Ed Orgeron said he had a great run and has no regrets as he prepares to finish his final season as coach at LSU.
Orgeron and the university said Sunday that he will step aside after the season, an announcement that came less than 24 hours after the Tigers upset No. 20 Florida to improve to 4-3. As part of the agreement, LSU will pay Orgeron the remaining $16.95 million left on his contract.
Orgeron, who grew up in nearby Larose rooting for the Tigers, said he'll always appreciate his six seasons as head coach for them.
In 2019, he led LSU to a 15-0 record and the national championship. Led by Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, a transfer quarterback from Ohio State, the Tigers won 12 games by 10 or more points and beat seven opponents ranked in the AP poll's top 10. Orgeron won nearly every national coach of the year award.
But then Burrow and 13 other Tigers left for the NFL Draft. Passing-game coordinator Joe Brady joined the Carolina Panthers and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda left to become the head coach at Baylor.
In the two years since, LSU has struggled with a record of 9-8 overall.
Orgeron said that if he knew why things went wrong, he would have fixed it. Still, he added: "It was a great run, if you ask me."
"The last couple of years are not the standard of LSU," he said. "But I have no regrets. I know I went to work as hard as I could every day, tried as hard as I could every day, and that's all you can ask."
Orgeron said he will stay on as head coach for as long as the season lasts, even if that means participating in a bowl game.
"We're going to finish," he said. "We're not going to blink. I'm going to be right there with them. That's the reason, Scott and I mutually agreed, that I'm going to finish with this team."
He later added, "I'm glad we got this out the way so tomorrow we can focus on Ole Miss."
LSU will travel to Mississippi on Saturday.
Athletic director Scott Woodward said the search for "LSU's next championship football coach begins today," but declined to answer questions on the specifics, saying he wanted to keep the focus on Orgeron.
Woodward praised Orgeron's passion and pride for the program and the state of Louisiana. He said it was in the best interest of the current players and future recruiting that Orgeron finish the season.
Orgeron said he spoke to two recruits on Sunday.
"I recruited them to come to LSU," he said. "Why would I tell them any different now?"
Orgeron, 60, said he didn't think he'll coach football next year, opting instead to spend time with family and figure out his next steps.
"You asked me today, I think I'm not going to coach," he said. "But that might be different a month from now."
Orgeron, who is 49-17 over six seasons with LSU, is the second-highest-paid coach in the FBS, behind only Alabama's Nick Saban, with an annual salary of about $9 million. Under the terms of the six-year contract he signed in January 2020, Orgeron will be paid $16,949,000 in installments starting on Dec. 15 and running through Dec. 15, 2025.
Off the field, Orgeron was dogged by claims that he didn't properly report allegations of sexual misconduct by his players, which he has denied. In March, a woman testified to a Louisiana Senate select committee that former LSU running back Derrius Guice approached her while she was working as a security guard at the New Orleans Superdome in December 2017. According to the woman, Guice told her, "I like having sex with older women like you" and "I want your body." The woman, Gloria Scott, told lawmakers that Orgeron called her offering to have Guice apologize. Scott said Orgeron asked her to "please forgive [Guice] because he's a troubled child."
Orgeron submitted a written statement to the committee, in lieu of testifying in person, and denied ever speaking to Scott directly about the matter. Scott said she told Orgeron that she wanted Guice suspended from playing in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2018. He was allowed to play. In the letter to the committee, Orgeron wrote that whether he spoke to Scott directly "does not change the fact that what happened to Ms. Scott in 2017 is unequivocally wrong."
"As a leader, and as a father, son, and grandson, I want to emphasize that it is heartbreaking Ms. Scott was subjected to such crude remarks by Mr. Guice, and she should be respected for her bravery and resolve to provide her statements to the Committee," Orgeron wrote. "She, along with this Committee, has my word that I will continue to be vigilant in ensuring that the LSU football program maintains a culture of integrity and compliance."
In June, Orgeron was added as a defendant in an amended Title IX lawsuit against LSU that accused him of failing to properly report an allegation of rape against one of his players. In the fall of 2016, according to the complaint, Ashlyn Robertson told her new boyfriend, who had been recruited to play for LSU, that Guice had raped her.
According to the lawsuit, Robertson's boyfriend disclosed the rape to Orgeron, who allegedly responded by telling Robertson's boyfriend not to be upset because "everybody's girlfriend sleeps with other people."
At the time, Orgeron issued a statement denying he said that and "credibly denied" being told about the incident, according to the law firm Husch Blackwell's investigation into the university's handling of sexual misconduct cases. The amended lawsuit states Orgeron never reported the rape to the Title IX office or any other office at LSU.
In December 2020, the Tigers added a bowl ban to its list of self-imposed sanctions stemming from improper benefits being made to players by boosters and others. LSU had already self-imposed a loss of eight scholarships over two years; a reduction in recruiting visits, evaluations and communication; and a ban of Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. from its football facilities for two years.
The NCAA charged the Tigers with a Level III violation involving Beckham, a former LSU star, who gave $2,000 in cash to four Tigers football players on the field after the team's 42-25 victory over Clemson in the 2019 CFP National Championship.
The most serious allegation related to LSU's football program involves booster John Paul Funes, a former CEO of a hospital foundation whom the NCAA enforcement staff accused of "providing funds to the families of current and former student-athletes, arranging for members of the institution's football staff to use a private plane and offering internships to football student-athletes."
The enforcement staff confirmed that Funes "arranged employment beginning in 2012 for the parents of a then football student-athlete and paid the father $180,000 during 2012-17 for a no-show job." The enforcement case, which also includes allegations of improper payments to LSU basketball players and recruits, hasn't been adjudicated by the Independent Accountability Resolution Process.
Orgeron took over for fired coach Les Miles as an interim coach in September 2016 and was hired as his replacement in November 2016.
ESPN Senior Writers Heather Dinich and Mark Schlabach contributed to this report.