COACH ED ORGERON'S 2020



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FEATURE PRESENTATION By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN

@LonnPhillips


    Coach Ed Orgeron has dealt with the complete opposite of his 2019 experience in nearly every possible way: from lopsided omnipotence to defensive impotence, decisive moments of brilliance fading into one false start, misstep, postponement or vacated roster spot after another.

      Covid 19 has dealt Orgeron's LSU an avalanche of nasty blows, his program suffering far worse than any other college football team in scope or volume: the amount of changes and complete blindside situations Ed Orgeron and his staff have been forced to traverse is near biblical...and it's still ongoing.

       From the school's major salary / personnel cuts or loss of revenue due to Covid, or the major opportunistic exodus of many 2019 juniors to the NFL...being shadowed by an insidious NCAA witch hunt...enduring libelous USA Today allegations buried within a report on Derrius Guice...ignoring major second guessing and doubts from the entirety of college football as the squad found themselves with a major league target on their backs....then there was a second mass of departures, this time caused by the treacherous global pandemic:


       Losing a guaranteed 13+ TDs from Ja'Marr Chase, let alone the attention the best offensive weapon in the country would command on the field is incalculable; Tyler Shelvin's massive dominance up the gut (no pun intended...well yes, we did) has been just as cruelly missed as Kary Vincent's smart-tackling / interception hunting prowess in the secondary.

        Throughout Spring, Orgeron maintained 2019's high octane energy, even when contact with his players was severely limited;

        Later, after every opt out or transfer, Coach O doubled down and increased his efforts. With every pandemic-assisted 2020 roster vacancy, Orgeron's crew gained the commitment of one championship-caliber 2021 recruit after another.


         After all the absences, Coach O's team were still ranked #6 in the country; During a season well below the Tigers' championship standards, LSU's freshmen have performed brightest, proving Orgeron's eye for youth-oriented opportunity;

         How well would 2019 Ohio State have played without Justin Fields or Chase Young?

         2020 LSU were stripped of their best offensive weapon, their most reliable safety, the bulk of their D-Line depth and all before August was over; plus, they lost their starting quarterback by the third game of the season....

         While the criticism piles high and the negative recruiting tactics continue at an increasingly desperate pace, Coach O's staff are still recruiting the #3 overall class of 2021 currently, with a real shot of finishing #1.

         Despite what some fools may believe (none of them Michael McDonald), this is not a man resting on his laurels; he will never be content with a 2019 millstone around his LSU tenure.

         "The morning after the title game, Michael Bonnette and I are walking with him and Coach O turns to us and goes 'I can't wait to talk about the next one'..." LSU's Digital Reporter Cody Worsham told us in an interview this past July.


         Only hours after coaching the greatest team of all time and climbing the summit so many doubted he could reach, Ed was already thinking of LSU's next move. 

         Now in 2020, with the biggest game of the year postponed and so much looking uncertain, LSU's grizzled hero isn't waiting around for his team's championship momentum to grind to a halt.

        As LSU's pandemic season in the abyss begins to descend into Covid-caused farce, the hard work from this title-winning staff on the recruiting trail (and in preparing certain freshmen and sophomores for SEC action) will pay dividends down the road. 

        Ed delivered the greatest season in college football history and he's already more than fulfilled every single goal he outlined in his introductory press conference: 

         Not only would he take the SEC, win a championship in the Superdome and throttle Alabama in their own house, Coach O hired Steve Ensminger to specifically revolutionize the quarterback position at Louisiana State University; thanks to Coach O's support and trust, Ensminger accomplished this team-defining task almost immediately.

Ensminger led Burrow, Brennan and even T.J Finley to huge numbers and victories, exorcising the traditional QB role of caretaker into modern superstar for the first time in the program's history. 


        The former 70s LSU quarterback instituted an aggressive offensive philosophy and with selected help from Joe Brady, Jorge Munoz or most recently Russ Callaway, Steve continues to push LSU's offensive blueprint light years ahead of their past offensive doldrums and into the stratosphere.

Scoring 52 points with a freshman quarterback in his first start, setting up Myles Brennan for a record-setting three game run (in which he equaled Burrow's statistical 2019 escapades before his injury), LSU's new electric church offense isn't going anywhere, dropping 40+ points in 19 of their 33 total outings with 3 different quarterbacks under Steve Ensminger.

         However in 2020, the switch at defensive coordinator from Dave Aranda to Bo Pelini has brought a host of criticism Orgeron's way. 

         He infamously said in the summer that the "defense already looked better under Bo Pelini than it ever has in all of the time I've been here", perhaps a thinly veiled shot at Dave Aranda (in his defense, Orgeron made those remarks when Brooks, Shelvin, Vincent and a host of D-linemen were still on the squad).

        After Bo's 2020 defense allowed 44+ points and over 500 yards in defeats to Missouri and Miss State, Orgeron's Pelini hire came under massive scrutiny...then on Halloween after his defense surrendered 48 points to Auburn, Orgeron's decision became "proof" of his "innate folly" as a coach. 



         This 2020 defense could become the program's worst ever by season's end....but does this current squad's inability to play in a 4-3 scheme (or pretend they enjoy tackling) really reflect upon the decision making of Ed Orgeron?

       Can a team quit on their coaches just as much as coaches can fail their players? 

         If Pelini's sequel never turns out to be a hit in Baton Rouge, will the former Super Bowl Champion and Nebraska head coach's failure define Coach O?

         Every time Orgeron has made a rare mistake (Matt Canada for one example) he's gone to endless lengths in order to fix the future in the Tigers' favor...and the results speak for themselves:

         From Matt Canada to Steve Ensminger, bringing in Joe Brady to get the best out of LSU's ultimate receiving corps, beating the drum for Super Bowl Champions like D-Line king Bill Johnson, Greg McMahon (improving special teams dramatically), James Cregg (winning the Joe Moore Award) and Carter Sheridan to join the staff...in almost every way, Orgeron's unorthodox mix of old and new school philosophies is working, but some moves he'll be criticized for regardless of their results:


        Due to LSU's lack of 2020 rushing production, some LSU critics will harshly say Orgeron's decision to move Kevin Faulk from Director Of Player Personnel to Running Backs Coach was a recruiting ploy, but the 3x Super Bowl winner's knowledge at the position is second to none.

       Faulk's first commitment? 

       2021's Corey Kiner, an Ohio native record breaker scoring 134 career touchdowns (33 in 10 games this season including 7 in one game, following 2019's 40 TDs). 


       Kiner was highly prized by Ohio State, however the second LSU's Orgeron-led recruiting staff offered Kiner, the young man quickly loved Kevin Faulk's vision.

       Like his astute move with Faulk (who's current and future work with Ty Davis-Price, John Emery, Chris Curry and Corey Kiner will pay off) Coach O has a knack for putting people in the right positions to succeed. 

Ed also knows all about creating an environment, a vibe...a culture.

        Say what you will about the opt outs and transfers, but none of those moves had anything to do with LSU's culture. In fact, no other head coach at any other top level program has offered such leniency and second or third chances to their players as the Cajun has...Coach O can be loyal to a fault.

        Nick Saban wouldn't suffer through the personal emotional back and forth turbulence of dealing with Justin Thomas or Dare Rosenthal leaving, then returning, then checking out again....Saban doesn't have the emotional stamina of Ed Orgeron: 

         Maybe Saban has more championships as a head coach because of his nihilism and self preservation, but when it comes to a coach's main job, their true, higher calling...to motivate, educate, protect...turn teenagers into men...Coach O is the best around.


        You can call it a business, but these college coaches still take an oath in those recruit's living rooms: They're charged with guiding young men and placing them in the best position to provide for their families....and we're not just talking about the NFL.

          We could fill a library full of LSU's NFL success under Coach O, or his iconic stints fostering premier talent like Sapp, The Rock and Cortez at Miami, Reggie and Leinart at USC, the Blindside at Ole Miss...yet, the reality is only a small portion of LSU, Clemson, Georgia or Alabama players will make it at the next level. 

        This is why Orgeron's insistence on his program excelling off the field has led to his players hitting an all time high twice in graduation success during his 4 year run (90% in 2017 and 89%, 4th in the SEC for 2018, while Saban's Alabama dwindles below at 84%).


         It may sound cliche or soft, maybe even Remember The Titans-y, but Coach O just cares more....he shares his soul with his players.

        "I treat my players like my sons," Orgeron has said, though this is more truth than sentiment... more reality than cheap platitudes: he recently demonstrated his true character in yet another snapshot of 2020's intensity:

         While absorbing cheap political shots from all sides during the summer, Orgeron proved his words through his actions, backing WR Koy Moore immediately after the freshman's allegations against the Baton Rouge Police Department.

        Without bodycam evidence, Orgeron didn't hesitate when he publicly believed and backed Koy's version of events.

         Coach O spoke publicly in defense of Koy the next morning after the former Rummel High receiver's revelation, then pursued and attained justice in record time for the young man. Make no mistake, Orgeron's influence and credibility in the community forced these 3 Baton Rouge PD officers on suspension.

        In the moment, Koy Moore warned the officers hiding behind their guns, "I'm telling Coach O," and the comment made those three officers release the receiver and his brother immediately.

        It's sad a young black man has to invoke the wrath of Ed Orgeron to force multiple officers to lower their weapons, but that also tells you everything you need to know about the LSU coach's influence for good. 

        Orgeron isn't just a coach to Koy Moore...Koy knew his coach would have his back. In the very instance where he felt fear for his own life, his belief in Coach O's retribution and protection came to the forefront of his mind.

         For those who try to assign a political agenda to the pure family and football-loving Cajun, his actions off the field prove every assumption incorrect time and time again.


       Whether he wins more championships at LSU isn't on my mind...I know he will...the real question we should all be asking?

        If and When Orgeron stops coaching at LSU, how in God's name will his successor be able to follow his impossible act? 


BLACK LIVES MATTER

By LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN

Copyright 2020 Uninterrupted Writings Inc LLC


SHOUTOUTS: A.G Silver, A.D Ronan, Richard Saloon (meant that), Alex King, JAMER, Maryroseth, CLAYETH, HARRRRRROLD!

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© 2020 by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN, Uninterrupted Writings Inc.