Ed Orgeron’s journey to his first head coaching job was anything but typical. Before being named head coach at Ole Miss in 2005, coach O had become nationally known as perhaps the best recruiter and defensive line coach in college football, and climbed the ladder from FCS graduate assistant to FBS assistant strength coach, to FBS assistant before being named assistant head coach, defensive line coach, and recruiting coordinator at USC in 1998.
Orgeron was a part of some special USC teams during that time, including an 11-2 team in 2002, and national titles in 2003 and 2004. That success helped him land the Ole Miss head coaching job, but from there, we all know that things didn’t go quite as planned. Leading Ole Miss, Orgeron lasted three season, going 3-8, 4-8 and 3-9. It wouldn’t be until 2013 at USC (replacing Lane Kiffin), and 2016 at LSU (stepping in for Les Miles) until Orgeron got another shot to lead a college football program, going 6-2 in both stints.
Going 12-4 at two different prestigious programs with the interim head coach tag, which you could easily argue is among the toughest of circumstances, is incredibly impressive.
Many, including myself, wonder what type of lessons Orgeron learned from his time at Ole Miss that helped him be more successful in his second and third opportunities leading a college football program.
At SEC Media Day, Orgeron shared the realization he had that changed the course of his coaching career. It’s something that many coaches talk about, but not all live and breathe.
Coach Orgeron on winning at LSU: "The day my coaching career changed was when I started treating all my players like my own sons." pic.twitter.com/N3AbsZxWeP
— Brandon Saho (@BrandonSaho) July 10, 2017
It probably seems like something so simple, but as a head coach there are so many other things on your plate, and you’re being pulled in so many different directions, that I imagine treating your players like your own son may get lost in the mix and pressures of the job.
Coaches like Tom Herman or Justin Fuente that take over a program and almost immediately take it to the next level tend to get a ton of attention – and rightly so, because it’s impressive. But there are so many success stories out there of coaches (at all levels) who get an opportunity to be a head coach, or coordinator, and it doesn’t work out for one reason or another, but that coach takes the lessons learned and applies it at his next opportunity and that is what leads to success.
Ed Orgeron is a better coach now at LSU because of his time at Ole Miss, and we can all learn a bit from that.