In a community where he once was reviled, Ed Orgeron seemed only to leave a large crowd at the Little Rock Touchdown Club full of laughs Tuesday in video from his appearance shared by KATV-ABC Little Rock, Arkansas.
A former national-championship-winning head coach at LSU, a fierce border rival of Arkansas’s Razorbacks, Orgeron flashed both gratitude and perspective as he recounted his time atop the LSU program and the end his tenure midway through the 2021 season.
“I’m so grateful of my time for LSU,” Orgeron said. “That was my opportunity. Coaches got a shelf (life); some coaches got 50 years, some coaches got 12. Mine was six. Good.”
Orgeron then pulled back the curtain a bit on his final hours as the top Tiger; he was publicly fired last season after his LSU squad had upset then-No. 20 Florida, 49-42, the previous day.
“I gotta tell you, we had a meeting, (LSU administrators) said, ‘Coach, things are not going well,’” Orgeron recalled. “(I said) ‘No, shit. Ray Charles could see that brother.’
“And Scott Woodward is a friend of mine today, really. Lot of respect for the way that they handled me. He said ‘Coach, you got 17.1 million dollars on your contract; we’re going to give it to you.’
“I said, ‘What time you want me to leave and what do you want me out of brother?’”
Orgeron, who led the Tigers to the 2019 College Football Playoff championship with what was considered one of modern college football’s top teams, finished out the ’21 regular season with LSU, and he helped the Tigers earn a berth in the Houston Bowl – though Orgeron did not coach that contest.
In a press conference after the separation was announced, Woodward charted his vision for Tigers football.
"At LSU, we expect to compete for SEC and national championships, year in and year out," said Woodward. "We are proud of that standard, and will always work to uphold it.
“Our last two seasons have simply not met that standard. When we evaluated our on-field results and the future of our program with President (William) Tate, we determined that it is time for us to move in a new direction. That was LSU's decision, but it is one Coach O understands."
Woodward then went out and hired away Brian Kelly from Notre Dame. Kelly and LSU lost Sunday night to Florida State, 24-23, when the Tigers had their potential game-tying extra point attempt blocked in the final seconds.