Well, what has been a relatively open secret in local media became full-blown public reports tonight — LSU will be letting go of offensive coordinator Matt Canada after the Citrus Bowl on Monday.
Officials at LSU have been in discussion with Canada's representatives on a potential settlement for a split with the coach, according to multiple sources. A possible replacement is longtime assistant Steve Ensminger, something Orgeron revealed himself during a news conference after the regular season finale against Texas A&M.
The 16th-ranked Tigers (9-3) meet No. 14 Notre Dame (9-3) on Monday in Orlando, Florida. LSU departs for the bowl site Thursday, and coordinators are scheduled to speak with reporters Friday morning.
Canada signed a three-year contract last December paying him $1.5 million per year as the highest-paid offensive coordinator in college football. The school would owe him about $3 million to be paid in monthly installments over the life of the contract, through 2020. That amount is offset by any future compensation Canada earns at another job, according to a copy of his contract.
For my part, I had heard multiple things from multiple sources over the last few weeks. The constant, from my best source, included the constant phrasing of “LSU isn’t going to fire him.” Which is almost certainly tied to the $3 million that LSU still owes him over the next two years.
No, there is no cause as rumored, otherwise Canada would be out today, not coaching in the bowl game.
Basically, once the bullets started firing, this was a marriage that came unglued very quickly. Orgeron and Canada butted heads over simplifying the offense for a young offensive line that was struggling with assignments. Canada appeared to win out down the stretch, in terms of style. But, again, from multiple sources, things were testy. Orgeron was not overly fond of Canada’s style of coaching either, from what I understand, and there was a major trust issue. One source mentioned, specifically, not long after the Texas A&M game, that Canada was “a very negative person.”
Regardless, this isn’t a good look for anybody involved. For Canada, this is a third coordinator job in three years, and the second one to end amid rumors of personality conflicts. This was something we did discuss with the SB Nation NC State site, Backing the Pack, when Canada was originally hired.
But likewise, it’s something Orgeron should have been able to vet before hiring Canada. The bottom line is a flashy OC hire was one of Orgerons’ chief talking points in getting the LSU job, and he’s already gone through one. Regardless of whether it was valid or not, it’s a big black mark on his process. Especially after reports of issues with the head coach trying to dictate portions of a gameplan.
On the field, I think I speak for most of the ATVS Editorial Staff when I say that the job Canada did with LSU this season was fine. He did a serviceable job with some limited personnel, a young offensive line and without his best weapon, running back Derrius Guice, at full capacity. I would have been fine with him staying to see how things progressed with a more veteran front and more talented, if younger, quarterbacks. That said, he was hardly the revelation that many hoped, and could certainly be replaced. There is also the fact that Canada completely struck out on recruiting a quarterback in this cycle, something that also certainly didn’t sit well with his head coach.
From a bottom-line standpoint, Canada’s LSU offense scored fewer points, averaged fewer yards per play and was generally less efficient than the 2016 offense, which tight ends coach Steve Ensminger coordinated for the final eight games.
As far as replacements go, Ensminger’s name will almost certainly be at the top of the rumor mill, as Orgeron made no secret of the fact that he enjoyed the job Ensminger did last season. Whether or not that will be Orgeron’s choice remains to be seen — it would certainly not be a very popular one. As of tonight I don’t have much more, but we will come up with a list of possible candidates, including some wish list names, and see what comes of this.