Orgeron proves he was the right choice

Published 7:00 pm Monday, December 2, 2019

BATON ROUGE — Make no mistake about it.

Saturday had to be sweet for Ed Orgeron.

He can’t say why. And he wouldn’t if he could.

But, gosh … that had to feel good, that 50-7 beat-down of Texas A&M Saturday night.

And part of it was the coach on the other sideline.

Nothing against Jimbo Fisher, you understand.

Fisher is a good guy, a class act.

Before Saturday’s game in Tiger Stadium the $75 million Texas A&M coach was over near the LSU sidelines, where he ran into Justin Vincent and Matt Mauck, two key cogs of LSU’s 2003 national championship team. That was the highlight of Jimbo’s seven-year stay as a rare (until this year) popular offensive coordinator at LSU under both Nick Saban and Les Miles.

It was a fun, friendly meeting, all hugs and backslaps, according to Vincent, the former Barbe star and MVP of the LSU championship win over Oklahoma. They reminisced about those days, got caught up on where life had taken them.

No reason for LSU fans to hate on Fisher, unless the love of the Tigers ever caused you to turn down $75 million.

But Orgeron needed to beat him.

Much was made of the revenge factor from last year’s 74-72 fiasco in College Station, that seven-act presentation of Murphy’s Law in purple and gold.

How many times did Orgeron think he’d beaten Fisher and A&M that night?

But maybe it was sweeter this way.

This way he got the daily double of satisfying, told-you-so victories, with the season’s earlier win over Texas and its high-dollar head coach Tom Herman as the other bookend.

Too bad Orgeron has got way to much good-natured Cajun class to taunt. It would have been the perfect opportunity.

He’d be excused if he wanted to nail Fisher’s and Herman’s heads on the mantle like a pair of trophy mounts from a successful deer hunt.

Maybe if he could slip away on his pirogue way back into the darkest reaches of those bayous back home in LaRose, he’d gravel-yell it until it echoed off the cypress knees and the turtles and gators were scattering: “Yeah, what do you think of me now?!”

Instead, he talked about a great team victory, another marvelous job by his assistant coaches.

One team, one heartbeat. Geaux Tigers!

That’s the way he rolls.

But just go back to three years ago, to another Texas A&M game, this one in College Station, but another incident of Orgeron beating the whey and most of the hay out of the Aggies.

It wasn’t the major story line of the game, however. The game itself almost seemed like background TV, with the sound turned off, during a family drama.

LSU had already tried and failed for the second year in a row to lure Fisher away from Florida State.

So while Orgeron, who’d been promised an honest look after taking over as interim head coach, was down there auditioning his bayou butt off, behind the scenes the LSU brass were trying desperately to land Herman, with a bidding war looming over the then-Houston coach who was the latest, hottest flavor of the month.

They knew they didn’t have to negotiate with Orgeron, that he’d sit out in the car waiting forever, gimme cap in hand, on the only job he ever really wanted whether they really wanted him or not.

LSU swung and missed twice and finally kind of threw its hands up and gave Orgeron the full-time gig, mostly with forced smiles and big promises that their third choice spoke the language and would probably be entertaining in a gruff sort of way.

That’s cute, Texas seemed to say, while showing off Herman to the world.

A year later, Texas A&M would waltz in like the stereotypical Lone Star oil man, flicking a few cigar ashes LSU’s way across the Sabine, as it opened up the checkbook and flashed a few goggle eyes to show the Tigers how you get serious and land you a real coach, the big Fisher.

The Aggies, like the Longhorns, seemed pretty smug about it.

Yeah, just tell that crazy Cajun of yours to wear shoes when he comes to our place.

LSU 45, Texas 38.

Hold my beer!

LSU 50, Texas A&M 7.

So who’s laughing now?

On Sunday Orgeron, having already basically clinched a spot in the College Football Playoff, was preparing his unbeaten, No. 1 ranked Tigers for the SEC championship game this week.

Herman was firing both of his coordinators with the Longhorns, which is what genius head coaches do when a season runs off the rails.

Fisher was trying to make sense of a return to Tigers Stadium for what matched the worst loss of head coaching career.

Orgeron would be excused for gloating.

But he won’t.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at””Ed Orgeron LSU head coachJohn Bazemore/Associated Press