Native son Ed Orgeron's dream job starts with an LSU win

Guice, LSU rout Missouri to win Orgeron's debut (0:54)

Filling in for Leonard Fournette, Derrius Guice rushes for 163 yards and three touchdowns as LSU wins Ed Orgeron's debut as head coach with a 42-7 victory over Missouri. (0:54)

BATON ROUGE, La. -- His purple LSU coaching shirt was soaked in Gatorade, and even amid the roar of the crowd and piercing tunes of the band, that unmistakable and booming voice reverberated all over the field.

Ed Orgeron hugged players, hugged staff members, traded high-fives with EMS personnel and wiped his brow furiously. Let's face it: What doesn't the guy they've taken to calling "Coach Oeaux" around these parts do furiously?

Granted, it was just one game -- Orgeron's first as LSU's head football coach -- but it was the most complete game the Tigers have played in some time: a 42-7 beatdown of Missouri that saw LSU gain 634 total yards -- the most against an SEC opponent in school history.

It was a magical night all the way around for the entire Orgeron family. His oldest son, Tyler Spotts-Orgeron, was on the LSU sideline as a member of the recruiting staff. In the second quarter, Spotts-Orgeron came charging up the sideline toward his dad to tell him that his younger brother and one of Orgeron's twin sons, Parker Orgeron, had just scored his first touchdown at McNeese State. They hugged excitedly, the first of many bear hugs applied by Orgeron on a gorgeous Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.

As Orgeron made the rounds on the crowded field after the game, he spotted the man who will ultimately decide whether Orgeron will be just a temporary fix or the guy to lead LSU back to national relevance after Les Miles was fired two Sundays ago.

"What do you say, Joe?" Orgeron bellowed to LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, who smiled and slapped Orgeron on the shoulder.

"That's one down," Alleva shot back.

How many more Coach Oeaux truly needs to fulfill his coaching dream on a permanent basis is anybody's guess, but good luck in getting him to refer to himself as LSU's interim head coach.

"Listen, this thing here, I'm going to get it," Orgeron told ESPN.com on Sunday morning while sitting in the office at the LSU football complex formerly occupied by Miles. "If we do what we need to do, I feel in my heart I'm going to get it. If I don't, it's because we didn't do well enough and I don't deserve it.

"This [job] here, I'm going to get it. If we do what we need to do, I feel in my heart I'm going to get it."" LSU interim coach Ed Orgeron

"Really, we control our own destiny, and I feel like we have a job here, and we have a right to earn it. If we earn it, we ought to get it. If we don't earn it, I get that. I know what the expectations are here. They're my expectations, the same expectations I had growing up in this state and cheering for the Tigers."

Orgeron, 55, has been on some of college football's biggest stages. He's used to the glare, the pressure and the raw emotion that engulfs the sport, but he's never had a job that means as much to him as the one he's fighting to keep right now.

He's back home, back among his people and back where he thought he would only be in his wildest dreams as a kid growing up in Larose, a small Cajun town in the Lafourche Parish. This is a coach who spent his childhood with his family huddled around a radio listening to LSU games and whose love of the Tigers runs so deep that his father told Bear Bryant thanks but no thanks when the legendary coach wanted to recruit his son. (More on that in a bit.)

"I think everybody in Tiger Stadium enjoyed themselves. I know I sure did," Orgeron said. "I want to connect them all, make this state connected. [Saturday] night, you could feel the whole state come together, and I'm part of them. I know it. I get it. I've been there."

They also understand each other. With Orgeron, it's not the "Tigers," but the "Tigahs." Similarly, he also understands that nothing is guaranteed past this season. He's been down this road before at USC in 2013, when he took over for the fired Lane Kiffin and guided the Trojans to a 6-2 record.

But that wasn't good enough for former USC athletic director Pat Haden, who opted for Steve Sarkisian instead. Orgeron sat out the 2014 season from coaching and spent it in Mandeville, Louisiana with his family, but Miles scooped him up as defensive line coach at LSU for the 2015 season.

"The difference is they want me here at LSU," Orgeron said. "I never felt in my heart that they wanted me at USC until the very end, and then Haden pulled the plug. I thought all the time I was fighting an uphill battle. They always saw me more as a stopgap."

Orgeron said Alleva gave him full license to do whatever he needed to get the program headed back in the right direction.

"And he's never called me the interim head coach," Orgeron said.

It's a given Alleva is going to look around, and Florida State's Jimbo Fisher and Houston's Tom Herman will be high on his list. But a person close to the situation told ESPN.com that Alleva is also serious about giving Orgeron legitimate consideration if the Tigers finish strong this season and continue to look as sharp and as re-energized as they did against Missouri, particularly on offense.

"If they beat Alabama [on Nov. 5], they might sign him to a new contract before midnight," a source told ESPN.com.

It's no secret Miles' undoing was an unimaginative offense and his unwillingness to adapt. Against Missouri, LSU came out in four wide receivers on its first offensive series under new offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and showed several new wrinkles and formations along the way before ultimately pounding Missouri with the running game.

"The only thing I told Steve was not to come out in the I-formation on that first series," Orgeron said with one of his vintage baritone laughs.

Orgeron also overhauled the practice schedule during the week and drew from his previous experience at USC. The Tigers' practices were shortened, but there was an added emphasis on a quicker tempo. Orgeron emphasized more individual work with first-team offensive linemen going up against first-team defensive linemen, for example.

"The players love it. We call it, 'Competition Tuesday,' and we have our best going against our best individually and not as much team stuff," Orgeron said. "I got that from [former USC coach] Pete [Carroll]. I just wanted to change it up and do things differently. Every day has a new theme, and not everything runs into each other."

Orgeron's phone blew up after the game. Really, it did all week, with the homefolk wanting him to know how proud of him they were. One of his closest pals, Bobby Hebert, grew up with Orgeron on the Bayou; they were teammates on South Lafourche High School's state championship team in 1977. Hebert, now a New Orleans radio personality, went on to be a Pro Bowl quarterback in the NFL and helped guide the New Orleans Saints to their first playoff appearance.

"Even now, with some of the experiences I've had in football, Saturday night in Tiger Stadium is the end-all job," Hebert said. "When you grow up where we did, it's hard to explain the connection you feel with LSU. I mean, it was sacrilegious, if you had the ability, to even think about leaving the state and not playing for LSU."

To Hebert and everybody else Orgeron grew up with, he will always be Be'Be' (pronounced Bay-Bay). His father, who died four years ago after a bout with cancer, was also known as Be'Be'. Orgeron is still called "Junior" by his mother, who's known affectionately as "Coco" and wasn't at the Missouri game because she was at the McNeese State game watching her twin grandsons, Parker and Cody.

"He's a Cajun; speaks our language, eats the same food we do, grew up in the same culture. We all identify with him. He's one of us." LSU fan Josh Pitre

The most emotional Orgeron got Saturday night was thinking about his dad and how proud he would have been to see his son leading the Tigers out of the tunnel on a Saturday night at Tiger Stadium. Even Sunday morning, as Orgeron's thoughts drifted back to his dad, his eyes moistened.

"I felt him there with me, and I talk to him every morning," said a red-eyed Orgeron as he nodded his head proudly. "He loved LSU. We all loved LSU and listened to all of the games on the radio. There were no other schools."

And when he says there were no other schools, he means it. Orgeron was a highly recruited lineman coming out of South Lafourche, and Alabama's Bear Bryant was interested in recruiting him. Orgeron still remembers Bryant calling the house one night and talking to his father.

"Coach Bryant wanted to come visit me, but my father told him not to bother, that I was going to LSU," Orgeron said. "That's just how it was."

Orgeron only lasted two weeks at LSU after growing homesick and returning to Larose. The very next day, his father put him to work digging ditches as part of the elder Orgeron's crew with the local telephone company.

It was humiliating for Orgeron, who said people would drive by in cars and yell insults to him for having the audacity to leave LSU before his career ever had a chance to get started.

"They're yelling, 'You f---ing pansy. You couldn't make it,'" recalled Orgeron, who still winces when he thinks about it. "Talk about going from the penthouse to the outhouse. You know what my daddy said? I'd look up at him when they'd be yelling at me, and he'd turn around and say, 'Dig!'

Orgeron wound up reuniting with Hebert at Northwestern State, but he always regretted not giving LSU more of a shot as a player.

"That's always been in the back of my mind," Orgeron said. "I felt like there was unfinished business."

Well, here's his chance.

The schedule is brutal the rest of the way, starting with a trip to No. 18 Florida this Saturday and four more games against ranked foes, including No. 1 Alabama at Tiger Stadium. The Crimson Tide have won five in a row over the Tigers.

"If he beats Alabama, there shouldn't even be a coaching search," said Hebert, whose son, T-Bob Hebert, was an offensive lineman on LSU's 2011 SEC championship team under Miles.

Orgeron hasn't been bashful about making changes from the Miles regime. But he's also been extremely respectful of Miles. Orgeron said he talked with Miles last week a couple of times, including on Saturday before the game

"I just wanted him to know that this was his team, the team he recruited and that we were going to represent," Orgeron said. "He's been great and said he would be pulling for us."

The state of Louisiana is pulling for Orgeron, even with higher profile names such as Fisher and Herman floating around as the most likely candidates to replace Miles past this season.

Josh Pitre, who went to the same high school as Orgeron and is a diehard LSU fan, sported a shirt at Saturday's game that read: Orgeron/Aranda '16. Make LSU Great Again!

"It would be great if he got the job," Pitre said. "He's a Cajun, speaks our language, eats the same food we do, grew up in the same culture. We all identify with him. He's one of us. I think all of Louisiana would be proud if he got the job."

Jacob Hester, one of the most popular players on LSU's 2007 national championship team under Miles, is also in Orgeron's corner.

"We're fortunate in a situation like this because the fans are still in it, the players are still in it and Coach Orgeron is a huge part of that," said Hester, who played six seasons in the NFL and is now a member of LSU's radio broadcast team. "Even before I had a relationship with Coach O and got to know him, people around here who knew him always said that if he ever got to the point where he was the head coach at LSU that he'd never let it go.

"It's going to be interesting to see what he can do."

The LSU players are also on board.

"All I know is that this is who we are. This is what the LSU Tigers are supposed to look like," LSU defensive tackle Davon Godchaux said following LSU's dominant performance against Missouri. "We're just glad to have Coach O as our head coach."

With last week being so hectic, all the added responsibilities as head coach and the changes he wanted to implement, Orgeron said it wasn't until the drive back to his hotel suite on campus with his wife, Kelly, late Saturday night that it sunk in what lay in front of him.

It's the coaching opportunity he's grinded for all these years -- crisscrossing the country as an assistant, not getting it done (or enough time) as Ole Miss' head coach, learning from the mistakes he made at Ole Miss in trying to be too hands-on -- and now staring his dream job squarely in the face.

"Man, it was surreal driving back after the game, because I couldn't let myself go there during the week," Orgeron said. "Think about it. A boy from South Lafourche is the head coach at LSU. It's like a dream. Even Hebert was like, 'Man, is this real?'"

It's real, all right, and about to get even more real if Coach Oeaux and the Tigahs have their way.