From the moment Les Miles was fired in October 2016, the three names that continually surfaced as likely head coaches were Jimbo Fisher, Tom Herman, and Ed Orgeron. Fisher brought pedigree, Herman brought innovation, and Orgeron brought...a binder.
Things were already trending in the right direction for Orgeron before his formal interview in late November 2016. Prior to being named interim head coach, his recruiting prowess was paying off, landing among others Rashard Lawrence. Once he was named interim, he won five of his seven games thanks to an offense that averaged close to fifty points a game after sacking offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and handing play-calling responsibility to Steve Ensminger. His personality resonated in the community and with his players.
However, even with high regard for his interim stint at LSU, and his previous interim position at USC, doubts remained that O could sustain and elevate the Tiger program. Memories of the Ole Miss disaster still remained.
When the regular season wrapped, after a thrashing of Texas A&M in which Derrius Guice set the school record for most rushing yards in a single game, Orgeron at the very least had earned an opportunity to formally interview for the position he had yearned for.
With the help of then Personnel Guru Austin Thomas and Orgeron special assistant Derek Ponamsky, Orgeron brought “The Binder” which contained information on where he wanted to take the program, why he believed in this method, and how he would execute that method.
Although exact details of the binder have not been revealed, #SAUCES tell ATVS the following sections among others were included in the binder:
- JB + JB = Get the Gat
- 63 ways to win a College Football Semifinal
- Blame Canada
- Nap facilitation
- How to break Auburn’s heart parts 1 & 2
- Hype videos 101
- Avoiding Troy for beginners
- Recipe for Crawfish Heisman style
- Stinger, Stingley, Success
- Roll Tide, F*ck you: A plan
- Stop the drills, I’m having a press conference: Media relations 101
- Non-Football Emergency Preparedness
True to his word Orgeron acted on all of these chapters, and then some.
More recently, Orgeron admitted he didn’t really know what was in the binder, giving credit to Thomas and Ponamsky for doing a vast amount of the assembly. O did take credit for the creation of the Tiger Standard of Success, something he based off Bill Walsh’s version with the 49ers.
Ed Orgeron on the binder everyone talked about when he got hired.— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) December 2, 2019
"Derek (Ponamsky) and Austin (Thomas) made that binder. I don't know what the hell was in there, man. But it looked good, I can tell you that." pic.twitter.com/KMvPaOSkNs
We know among other things that the binder had details on how Orgeron would develop a sustainable offense, which at the time involved hiring Lane Kiffin. Perhaps most important, the binder served as evidence to leadership that the mess Orgeron created at Ole Miss was behind him.
The binder gave Joe Alleva and the search committee what the program had been in need of: a plan. If there is a fault of the Miles years it was that while the program hit consistent levels of excellence, there seemed to be dwindling evidence that the Miles plan was sustainable and even less evidence of how Miles would keep the program in the top tier of college football.
This isn’t to say the contents of the binder have been followed step-by-step (minus the chapters outlined above). Orgeron missed on Matt Canada as OC in his first full year and there was some arguable mismanagement of scholarships for the 2018 season. Like all great success stories, it took some events beyond anyone’s control for Orgeron to finally land the position. Namely, Jimbo Fisher’s absurd asking price and Tom Herman’s negotiating game.
Credit Orgeron for acting swiftly to correct his mistakes. He returned play calling duties to Ensminger and brought in Brady, he has quickly made LSU a national recruiting power and has had success turning relatively unknown recruits into superstars, and he’s been able to improve the Tiger coaching pipeline.
As we sit here today, with LSU the undefeated reigning, defending national champions led by the reigning, defending Heisman winning quarterback and likely first overall pick in the draft, the binder proved its value.
The history of LSU football will forever be defined by plays, games, people and one well organized binder.