When Ed Orgeron was on Pete Carroll’s staff at USC, serving as recruiting coordinator, Carroll approached Orgeron about a potential addition to the coaching staff.
Carroll could hire an experienced coach or a young up and comer who could help with recruiting. At Orgeron’s suggestion, Carroll went with Lane Kiffin, who had spent a year at Colorado State as a graduate assistant before accepting a position as a quality control assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“I said why not get a coach who can help us in recruiting, and it was Lane Kiffin,” Orgeron said. “He was a young coach at Colorado State and I remember sitting in a recruiting meeting and I was a recruiting coordinator and we were evaluating some talent. I liked a guy and Lane didn’t and he was right. He earned my respect from day one.”
Over the next several seasons, Kiffin and Orgeron formed a powerful recruiting duo, luring talented players like Reggie Bush and winning two national championships together. Later Orgeron would join Kiffin’s staff at Tennessee and then again at USC, where the two established themselves as great recruiters, learning and growing with one another along the way.
“Lane and I became very close being my recruiting coordinator, he was my out of state recruiter, he taught us how to recruit,” Orgeron said. “He brought in a lot of No. 1 draft picks. He’s a tireless recruiter and great evaluator of talent.”
It’s a friendship that seems unlikely with Orgeron’s gruff and tough persona, Kiffin’s dry wit, social media engagement and offensive genius. The relationship varies according to Orgeron as sometimes it’s a big brother, little brother and other times it’s best friends.
“Sometimes it’s like best friends, sometimes it’s like coach to coach but we do have the utmost respect for each other and do know each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” Orgeron said. “We’ve fed off of it when we coach together. We worked together, won two championships at USC together, we built that recruiting class. We got to know each other very well.”
The two have remained supportive of one another throughout their careers, including this most recent tumultuous time in Orgeron’s as he and LSU have agreed to part ways following 2021. Kiffin was asked about the current situation at LSU and continued that unwavering support of Orgeron and his accomplishments in Baton Rouge.
“I don’t know the details of what went on,” Kiffin said. “Obviously, Ed did a great job and won a national championship. I’m not really sure what happened as of late. Crazy, they just beat a really good Florida team when not a lot of people gave them a chance.
“We have a really good relationship. He’s not a big talk-on-the-phone guy, as you can imagine. But he actually texted me after that game Saturday. He’s an awesome guy and phenomenal coach.”
Orgeron and LSU got the best of Ole Miss last season in a 58-37 shootout that saw freshman Kayshon Boutte break the SEC receiving record with 308 yards against the Rebels. With the two set to square off one last time as SEC coaches, Orgeron knows that the Tigers will get the No. 12 Rebels’ best punch.
“I think if Lane is not the best play callers in the country he’s one of the top three best play callers in the country,” Orgeron said. “He’s doing a great job at Ole Miss. I’m very happy for him, he’s a fighter, he comes from a football family and I know he’s gonna have his team ready to play.”
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