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LSU Fails to Finish in Citrus Bowl: Now What?

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Some quick thoughts on the Tigers’ 21-17 loss and what is next for the program.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 01 Citrus Bowl - Notre Dame v LSU Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s a cliche to downplay a loss, but I’m just going to be honest about it — I don’t really care that LSU fell to Notre Dame in the final two minutes, 21-17.

I had to settle for the radio broadcast for the first three quarters of the game or so, while I drove back to Baton Rouge from West Monroe and the holidays with my wife’s family. Putting together the game preview felt like an “oh yeah, I have to do that, too” type of chore after the news of Jeff Grimes’ departure, and Matt Canada’s impending one.

Sadly, I can’t say I was terribly surprised that the Tigers looked rusty and failed to fully take advantage of some opportunities. Two missed chip-shot field goals were ultimately the difference in the game.

This Ross Dellenger tweet sums it up well:

Maybe I’ll go back and study it further, but that’s the crux of it. You don’t finish, and a field position advantage is irrelevant. It’s frustrating, and I do think 10 wins would have been a nice way to finish this season up. But the truth is the next month will almost certainly have more impact on the future of the program than one game — win, lose or draw.

And if a win wouldn’t have mattered that much, I’m not going to sulk about a loss too much.

So what’s next for Ed Orgeron and LSU?

  • LSU returned to Baton Rouge on Tuesday — Delly has a nice recap here. First on the list will be season-ending meetings and discussions with Canada on his future. Both sides will almost certainly want to find some way to save face and/or money. From LSU’s standpoint, that likely involves helping him find another job. This NJ.com report links Canada to an opening on Chris Ash’s Rutgers staff. Whether that’s a real possibility or not, I have no idea. The coaching carousel hasn’t stopped spinning yet, with NFL teams still making moves, a line of dominos that will certainly come down to college. National Signing Day in February is always followed with a few moves as well.
  • As far as LSU’s other coordinator; Dave Aranda was reported by a handful of outlets to have turned down advances from Texas A&M and new boytoy head coach Jimbo Fisher. He’s already the highest paid coordinator in the country, and the day he leaves LSU is almost certainly for a promotion. Likely the NFL. Now, the Green Bay Packers? That could be an outfit to worry about. They’ve parted ways with long-time DC Dom Capers, and Aranda was known to visit and study with their staff during his days at Wisconsin. Whether now is that time remains to be seen.
  • As for the OC gig, nothing new to report from this list published last week. A source did sternly shoot down a weekend report from a certain beat writer mentioning Kentucky OC Eddie Gran. Truthfully, everything is speculative right now, given that Canada hasn’t even left yet. I do expect that when things do happen, it will happen quickly, similarly to James Cregg being tapped to replace Jeff Grimes within an hour or so of the news breaking.
  • Cregg’s season with the Chargers has ended, so I would expect him to make it to campus very soon, to work with the rest of the staff on LSU’s next recruiting battle: the six juniors that could potentially depart for the NFL. Tailback Derrius Guice and linebacker Arden Key seem like mortal locks — although I expect Guice to at least consider staying. Cornerbacks Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver II will both listen to NFL evaluations, as will center Will Clapp and offensive tackle Toby Weathersby. Guice, Key and Jackson seem likely to get high grades, based on what I’ve heard. But holding on to the rest would be nice.
  • Greg McMahon is almost certainly going to become LSU’s full-time special teams coach once the 10th assistant spot is official. LSU will still need to add one more assistant to fill the retired Pete Jenkins’ shoes. Dennis “Meatball” Johnson will move from outside linebackers to defensive line full-time. Candidates for that other defensive spot are, as of now, unknown, as would be any potential position. I do NOT believe LSU will add any other defensive backs coaches though. More likely another linebackers coach to help Aranda.
  • Speaking of recruiting, LSU’s final four spots in the 2018 class remain up for grabs — although scuttlebutt has things pretty narrowed down. James Smith has this update at NOLA.com.

More updates will come as things breaks. The 2017 season is completely in the books for LSU, but the aftereffects and the first steps of 2018 are still taking shape.