If the LSU football program needs to replace Ed Orgeron, look for them to swing for the fences.
Not even a full two years removed from a perfect national title-winning season, and LSU football head coach Ed Orgeron is already on the hot seat.
The Bayou Bengals lost their first home game to division rival Auburn since 1999. It is not even the middle of October and LSU has been eliminated from the College Football Playoff. A road loss to UCLA and falling at home to Auburn will do that to you. All the while, the pressure is starting to build in Baton Rouge, and it could cost Orgeron his job at the end of the season. He must win now.
In Pete Thamel’s latest article for Yahoo, he reports if LSU does plan to fire Orgeron at the end of the season, it will be both a short list and one full of college football coaching rockstars. While some might think Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady would be a candidate, he is expected to stay in the NFL at this point of his coaching career. So he is not a candidate right now.
The other interesting caveat here is LSU athletic director Scott Woodward did not hire Orgeron, having been at Texas A&M when Coach O was promoted from the interim the year after the Les Miles termination. Orgeron’s buyout might be steep, but LSU is grossly underperforming with the amount of blue-chip talent it is on the roster. This is one of the better jobs in the entire country.
Of the three big-name candidates Thamel outlined, here are their viability to take over at LSU.
LSU football: 3 big-name replacements to take over for Ed Orgeron in 2022
3LANE KIFFINHead CoachOle Miss Rebels
Lane Kiffin has Ole Miss humming, but his ties with Orgeron makes this hard
Despite falling on the road last week to Alabama, Lane Kiffin has his Ole Miss Rebels playing great football during his second year in Oxford. This is his fifth combined season since becoming a college football head coach once again after the Nick Saban rehabilitation plan. We know that Kiffin can recruit and that his offense will put up points, but he presents a ton of baggage as well.
Switching teams in the SEC is always a tricky proposition. While Dan Mullen did it most recently, that was going from Mississippi State to Florida, two schools who are not traditional rivals. As for if Kiffin were to leave Ole Miss for LSU, that would make a certain generation of Magnolia Bowl enthusiasts very mad. There is also the strong rapport he has had with Orgeron over the years.
Kiffin has done a ton to rehabilitate his image since hitting rock bottom on the tarmac. He was replaced by Orgeron at USC in the interim. They had also worked together previously on Pete Carroll’s staff at USC and during Kiffin’s one-year run with the Tennessee Volunteers in 2009. While Kiffin could do great at LSU, taking over for his fired friend will create a huge fracture.
Though the fit makes sense, the timing does not seem to be right in Kiffin’s favor for the LSU gig.
2JIMBO FISHERHead CoachTexas A&M Aggies
Jimbo Fisher was the former LSU offensive coordinator under Nick Saban
It is inferred that Jimbo Fisher is the apple of Woodward’s eye should he look to move off Orgeron at the end of the year. Woodward hired Fisher away from Florida State when he was at Texas A&M. Now that he is back running his alma mater’s athletic department, he is in position to bring back the former offensive coordinator under Nick Saban to lead the reeling LSU football program.
To do so, LSU will have to pay Fisher at least $10 million annually to get above the $9 million he earns from Texas A&M. Is Fisher worth that money? Outside of last season in College Station, the answer would probably be no. However, LSU historically is a step up as a program over Texas A&M. Getting Fisher to leave College Station for Baton Rouge can happen if the money is right.
So should Fisher switch SEC West allegiances? He does not have the ties to Orgeron like Kiffin does, but Texas A&M views LSU as one of its biggest rivals since joining the SEC a decade ago. They play each other annually each Thanksgiving weekend. Fisher could be an upgrade over Orgeron, but he has no earthly idea how to beat his mentor Saban, who is still in Tuscaloosa.
It is understood Fisher will be expensive, but the return on his investment only seems marginal.
1JAMES FRANKLINHead CoachPenn State Nittany Lions
James Franklin could leave Penn State for LSU, USC or other marquee jobs
While there is a strong possibility James Franklin could stay with the Penn State Nittany Lions, there is a decent chance he leaves Happy Valley for another high-profile job. Not only will he be a top candidate to replace Clay Helton at USC, but he would be the same if Woodward were to fire Orgeron from his LSU post. This is all about where Franklin can think he can win a national title.
Penn State may be the No. 4 team in the country in Week 6, but the Nittany Lions have to play No. 3 Iowa at Kinnick. The winner of that game has to feel fantastic about its chances of getting to Indianapolis. Iowa would be a virtual lock to win the Big Ten West at that point, but Penn State still has to play Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State in Big Ten East play. That is so beyond brutal.
And it is for that reason why Franklin would leave his home state’s team: Has he hit the zenith of what he can do at Penn State during the College Football Playoff era? If they can only go 10-2 under him, he may need to look at USC or LSU. His previous post at Vanderbilt lets everyone know he can win big at a traditional doormat with only marginal SEC talent. Franklin will have options.
One way or another, Franklin will be getting a raise, either from his new job or from Penn State.
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