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Buying or Selling: Year One of Ed Orgeron

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A quick stock-taking of Coach O’s first season.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Notre Dame vs Louisiana State Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The on-field season is over and we now have one full year’s worth of data points to consider in our evaluation of new LSU head coach Ed Orgeron. Sure, there’s National Signing Day in a month, but the class is heavily in the barn already. Let’s check some pros and cons of the major areas of collegiate coaching and judge where you think O stacks up after year one.

On-Field Coaching

Pros

  • Orchestrated midseason turn around after seemingly disastrous loss
  • Finished in-line with preseason prediction of 3rd place finish in SEC West
  • Beat SEC West Champion
  • Kept pace with the previous four years of Les Miles in record and style

Cons

  • Needed a midseason turn around at all
  • Lost first non-conference home game in many years
  • Thumped by Mississippi State on the road
  • Kept pace with the previous four years of Les Miles in record and style

There’s some things to like here, notably beating eventual SECW Champion Auburn. The major con is this is a down year in the conference and LSU still didn’t ascend any higher. Instead, LSU was a piece of the “down” cycle.

It was a fairly smooth transition to O, as we pretty much fielded the identical product we saw under Les the last 4 years. We hovered around the 9/10 win mark (honestly the ND game is a W probably 90% of the time or more). We played a pretty tedious form of offense, but this time, we moved around a lot before snapping the ball and doing it! We lost to Alabama, but competitively!

So, if you loved Les, you should love O. He gave you the same thing in year one.

Off-Field Decisions

Pros

  • Hired Matt Canada
  • Hired elite recruiter/RB coach
  • Hired/promoted Dennis “Meatball” Johnson
  • Efficiently handled coach leaving the program with new hire
  • Doled out suspensions quietly
  • Re-ignited relationships with former players

Cons

  • Fired Matt Canada
  • Hired receivers coach with no experience
  • Didn’t hire special teams coach
  • Poor decision to interject himself in offensive gameplanning
  • Strange comments about players midseason

Some of these issues will fall into the winning/losing debate. If you are winning, you get more leeway. If you are losing, things like saying “we don’t have a kicker on the roster” midway through the season are tougher to digest.

His hires look mixed right now. Robinson is a known entity, though he was unable to deliver an elite running back in an admittedly thin RB class. His value should come through next season. Meatball is one of the surprises and O promoting him up to full-time staff proved wise when Johnson delivered multiple top recruits.

Matt Canada was a great hire on paper, but he didn’t move the needle much for the LSU offense in 2017, publicly had a falling out with O and is now on his way out of the program, all at a steep cost. We will never know the full details here. Your perception will dictate how you feel about it all. If you hate O, this is an example of his buffoonery. If you love O, then you probably see Canada as toxic and not doing much for the offense. If you are in the middle, a little blame goes to both parties.

Grimes leaves and clear plan in place, with no loss of recruits, is excellent staff management and should be lauded. Hiring Mickey Joseph to groom a young receiver corps is a major mistake right now. We will see if Joseph can deliver on the promised NOLA ties. Landing JaMarr Chase would help explain the hire. Not hiring a special teams coach can be indirectly tied to both the Troy and Notre Dame losses.

As much as we yearn for info, I actually rather liked that he doled out suspensions, even to the detriment of the team, notably Herron for six games, and never felt the need to explain it for our wanting ears. It establishes that there are disciplinary standards to be met and if you don’t meet them, you will face severe consequences. It also establishes with the media/fans that it’s really none of our business.

Ultimately, people are largely gonna judge this on Canada.

Recruiting

Pros

  • Pulled No. 7 class nationally in 2017
  • Signed 21 players in first early signing period, securing most of class
  • Poised to sign no. 1, 3, 4, 7, 9 and 10 players in Louisiana 2018
  • Perceived to be recruiting to needs better than Miles

Cons

  • 2018 class doesn’t look elite
  • Missed on top def. tackle and running back targets in 2017
  • Lost 2, 4 and 5 players in state 2017
  • Perceived to be recruiting to needs but sacrificing star power?
  • Gambled on a waiver for kicker spot and lost out

Last year’s class finished strong, but the foundation for it was built with Miles, so I don’t give O full credit. This year’s class looks weaker on paper, though people are much more in a rush to make judgments right now due to the early signing period. LSU has 4 spots to fill, due to an administration error, and should finish somewhere in that 7-10 range, or, in other words, about the same as last year’s class that everyone loved.

I’m going to do a separate, dedicated piece on the recruiting to needs bit, but I think this will largely go on your perception. If you like O, you will say he’s hitting needs, rededicating efforts in-state and while the star rankings aren’t as strong, he’s evaluating better and finding players that fit our roster better. If you dislike O, you are gonna lean on the star rankings to show this class is subpar and hammer last year for not locking up top players in-state.

I’ll have more detailed thoughts later, but my general perception here is that this is one area we absolutely expected O would crush it and right now it’s hard to argue that’s what’s happening on paper. He’s doing well, but we expected what Kirby Smart is doing at Georgia.

Where ya at?

So, where you at after year one of O? There’s some good and bad sprinkled in. Some detractors will insist year one played out just like the guy we saw at Ole Miss, point to the Troy losses and other management faux pas. Some supporters will point to O being decisive, netting a big win over a rival and taking the program in a new direction.

Where do you stand? Are you buying or selling? Is this the Orgeron you expected? Is he delivering on his campaign promises?

Poll

Are you Buying or Selling Year 1 of Coach O?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Buying!
    (392 votes)
  • 53%
    Selling!
    (446 votes)
838 votes total Vote Now