Ed Orgeron has a chance to improve to 3-0 as LSU’s interim coach if he manages to beat the program that gave him his first opportunity as a head coach, Ole Miss, on Saturday.
But would beating the Rebels -- or even pulling off a massive upset by beating Alabama on Nov. 5 -- help Orgeron dump the interim label and earn the Tigers’ full-time coaching position?
That discussion has taken place in every LSU household lately, and our SEC writers will offer our own thoughts on the subject now:
Edward Aschoff: Um, he has to win out. I’m sorry, but just beating Alabama won’t cut it, and it shouldn’t. I’m not saying that Orgeron isn’t a good coach, but is he the right coach, or does he just feel like the comfortable fit because he’s appealing to locals? This is a top-five job in the country, and it should be treated as such during the coaching search process. This job deserves an established, accomplished head coach. Orgeron could be that guy one day, but unless he wins out, he won’t permanently replace Les Miles.
David Ching: From the moment he accepted the interim job, Orgeron has treated this like a two-month job audition. Athletic director Joe Alleva and the powers that be at LSU seem perfectly willing to give him the job. He just has to win, baby, Al Davis style. You'd think a bigger name would be Alleva's preference at this point, but an outstanding finish to this season could change things in a hurry. Orgeron is making lots of well-received moves, like extending olive branches to football alums and altering the Tigers’ practice schedule. After a pair of 35-point wins under his guidance, enthusiasm around the program is back near where it was in August when LSU was a top-10 team. The good thing for Alleva on the Orgeron front is that the next six weeks will make his decision for him. LSU has the nation’s toughest remaining schedule according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. It will be obvious whether he deserves the job after leading the Tigers through the remaining gauntlet.
Sam Khan Jr.: It may not necessarily be fair, but I think LSU has to win the remainder of its regular-season games -- including beating Alabama -- for Coach O to have a real shot at keeping the job permanently. I think even if the Tigers win all but one, he deserves serious consideration for it, but let's be honest: LSU didn't fire Les Miles to hire Ed Orgeron. They did it to go get someone like Jimbo Fisher at Florida State or Tom Herman at Houston. That said, if they swing and miss on those two, it might be a good idea to take a hard look at Orgeron. One thing's for sure: he'll pour his heart and soul into that job. If he runs the table the rest of the way, after seeing what he did in his interim stint at USC, I think he deserves a shot.
Greg Ostendorf: Everybody claims that if Orgeron beats Alabama, then LSU will extend a full-time offer that same night. What happens if LSU loses to Florida and Texas A&M to close out the year? Do you still want him then? I’m not so sure. He did well in the interim role at USC and probably should have gotten that job. He’s done well so far at LSU. But his only head coaching experience prior to USC was at Ole Miss where he went 10-25 in three seasons. I think he deserves a chance somewhere. I just think LSU can land a bigger fish … and will. Oh, and for what it’s worth, I don’t think LSU is beating Alabama.
Alex Scarborough: Assuming LSU beats Ole Miss, which I admit is a big assumption, I can see the hype building to sky-high levels to keep Orgeron. Alumni and fans alike are going to be looking for reasons to keep him around for at least another year. Because, frankly, he's one of their own. He's a Louisiana guy. He's Cajun. And boy, does he exude personality. After the way things turned sour around Miles, he's a breath of fresh air. But for that to be enough, he either has to beat Alabama or lose to Alabama close and beat the brains out of everyone else with an offense that's as far from Miles' three yards and a cloud of dust as possible. Snapping a five-game losing streak to the Tide, I believe, would get him a multi-year deal that very night. That's how thirsty I think LSU is to unseat Nick Saban and Alabama.