As the coat and tie indicated, Ed Orgeron isn’t LSU’s interim head coach. Not in his mind, at least. Coach O is running the program as if he’s the Tigers’ head coach until the day he’s told otherwise. And why wouldn’t he? As a native southern Louisiana native, Orgeron admitted today was a dream come true for him, and he’s going to do everything he can to keep it.
That means making changes.
Orgeron said Monday he’ll make changes large and small. The staff has shifted. Dave Aranda is now assistant head coach on top of running the defense. Old confidant Pete Jenkins has been brought in to handle the defensive line and Bradley Dale Peveto will now focus solely on special teams. Additionally, Austin Thomas has been promoted to general manager, and Derek Ponamsky has been pulled from the radio team to serve as special assistant to the head coach.
LSU will now spend more time in the meeting room and less on the practice field. They’ll open up the offense. When the Tigers make a mistake, Orgeron pledged, they’ll make it going full speed.
Changes for his staff and his team also requires changes for Orgeron personally. He admitted Monday that his 16-27 failure at Ole Miss was due to the way he approached the job. Orgeron walked in the doors as a defensive line coach and never really changed. The hard-charging, show-me-how-tough-you-are Orgeron that got the job was the same person who lost it. At USC, Orgeron softened. He famously gave his players cookies, and he provided his assistants the space to do their jobs without intrusion. It worked. The Trojans were 6-2 under his stead.
“I look at it as if we’re building a building and we’re all contractors,” Orgeron said. “I’m in charge of the lights, you’re in charge of the paint. Other guys are in charge of electricity. Make sure you are doing your job. If we all pull together, if we all pull on the same side of the rope, we’re going to be very successful. There are things that I do very well, and there are things that I don’t do very well. There are some guys on the staff that can’t do what I can do, but you know what? They have some strengths that I don’t have. And we’re going to lean on each other and pull together.
“I think that adversity makes us all closer, and we have some good men on this staff,” he continued. “We have some new leadership in the room on the offensive side, having Dave Aranda as assistant head coach and leaning on him, bringing Pete Jenkins in, a veteran, not only a great, great Tiger, not only a great defensive line coach, a guy that has a lot of knowledge about winning games and about running programs. I think that we have a very strong staff.”
The schedule won’t make life easy for Orgeron and his Tigers. The Coach O era opens with Missouri at home on Saturday — a game LSU would be expected to win under Les Miles — before beginning a run of five ranked opponents in seven games and four in their final five.
Orgeron thinks LSU will be okay. As long as he sticks to the lights and lets his assistants handle everything else.