LSU now has the unenviable position of having to fill both coordinator spots. While the re-recruitment efforts are going swimmingly for Ed Orgeron, there is a ton on the line with these hires, particularly on the defensive side. So far the searches have been pretty quiet, with only a small handful of people confirmed to be of interest. This will be limited to names I’ve seen brought up. As a result, there will sadly be no Phil Longo on this list. That said, I’d like to include the disclaimer that any name could conceivably pop up that isn’t on this list. Let’s start with the offensive side.
Jake Peetz, Quarterbacks Coach, Carolina Panthers
Peetz, the current QBs coach under Joe Brady in Carolina, is reportedly set to interview for the position at LSU. Peetz is highly regarded by many of football’s brightest, as Josh McDaniels was all set to bring him on as OC when he flirted with the Colts job. Obviously Joe Brady thinks highly of the guy. Peetz was an offensive analyst at Alabama in 2018, so it’s clear he understands the machinations of modern college offenses and defenses. Jake Peetz would reportedly bring longtime Brady henchman DJ Mangas with him, possibly as passing game coordinator. Mangas would be extremely useful for Peetz’s transition to LSU as he was here about 30 seconds ago with Joe Brady.
Joe Moorhead, Offensive Coordinator, Oregon
This is my personal favorite of the names brought up. Joe Moorhead has found himself at Oregon after a failed tenure as head coach at Mississippi State, but he hasn’t lost his fastball as a coordinator. Moorhead is one of Joe Brady’s mentors, and the influence is clear. Moorhead’s system contains many of the concepts Joe Brady brought to Baton Rouge, and contains a diverse, robust run game on top of a well designed, QB friendly passing game. This season, he managed to milk very good numbers out of Tyler Shough, despite Shough having major limitations. When Moorhead was at Penn State, he orchestrated some of the nastiest offenses in the country and frankly the school hasn’t come anywhere close to replacing him to this day.
Russ Callaway is somebody I’ve had my eye on for an eventual promotion to OC since he got the LSU job. He’s been described as Steve Ensminger’s right hand man and had a very successful (extremely pass happy) tenure as OC at Samford. He is thought of very highly in the LSU facility as an extremely sharp mind. Recruits and players love him as well. Combine his reputation, his great coordinating experience at Samford, and his close knowledge of his players and program, promoting Callaway would be a terrific move. It’s been reported that he is getting a promotion to an on field role but it hasn’t yet been specified what that role is. I feel like if they were going to promote him they’d have done it already, but LSU should keep this option in their back pocket, and they should make a concerted effort to keep him in Baton Rouge.
Graham Harrell, Offensive Coordinator, USC
It was reported loosely a couple weeks ago that LSU had some interest in Graham Harrell, the former Texas Tech star and current offensive coordinator at Southern Cal. Harrell runs a more modern evolution of the air raid that saw substantial success in 2019 but took a step back in their abbreviated 2020 season. There was never a ton of smoke around this one and it seems to have died down.
Marcus Freeman, Defensive Coordinator, Cincinnati
This is the big one, and would be a terrific, if fleeting hire. Marcus Freeman leads an aggressive defense at Cincy, one that has risen to the top of college football despite its Group of 5 affiliation. He does a great job attacking pass protections and terrorizing QBs. He trusts his talented corners with some aggressive play but is far from vanilla on the back end, with well applied, adaptive coverage schemes. Marcus Freeman wants to be a head coach, but even if it’s just a year I’d take him without a question. Total stud.
Barry Odom, Defensive Coordinator, Arkansas
Odom hasn’t gotten quite the same buzz among the LSU fanbase as Freeman but he deserves it because I think he’d be every bit as good of a hire. He has a penchant for turning around awful defenses and despite what happened this past year, LSU’s is still pretty. loaded. Odom was incredible as DC at Memphis, great as DC at Mizzou before his promotion, and sliced almost a full opponent yard per play off of Arkansas’s average. He is terrific.
Jim Leonhard, Defensive Coordinator, Wisconsin
This would be another fantastic hire, but is a less likely one. Schematically, his defense isn’t a ton different from Dave Aranda’s. That’s not a hangup for me, I love what Dave Aranda does, but Ed Orgeron has his misgivings about that 2 gap, 3-4 base style of defense. He also likely won’t be swayed a ton by money as he is already pretty wealthy from an illustrious and long NFL career. His defenses at Wisconsin, particularly 2019’s, have been terrific.
Ryan Nielsen, Defensive Line coach, New Orleans Saints
This would be a very Ed Orgeron hire. Ryan Nielsen has done a great job coaching up one of the deadliest defensive lines in the NFL, one that attacks gaps and rushes the passer at a high level. I’d prefer one of the names above to Nielsen, but LSU has a boatload of depth and talent on the line that Nielsen could make something horrifying with.