Scooter Hobbs column: Fired coach walking

Published 1:14 pm Wednesday, October 13, 2021

So much for the joy of full stadiums, complete with tailgating, cheerleaders, marching bands, hot boudin and all the rest.

Sorry, LSU, but this is no way to go through a football season.

But here we are again, the games not really mattering anymore as one watches a once-beloved LSU coach twisting in the wind, seemingly powerless to change his fate with half the season yet to play.

All of a sudden, pandemic football doesn’t seem so bad.

If you haven’t heard already, Ed Orgeron, once the toast of the state, is toast with the Tigers.

Mainstream and social media agree.

It doesn’t matter how much fun Orgeron was while he lasted, which was less than two years after putting together — or stumbling upon, according to the latest revisionist history — the greatest single season in LSU history.

The end is not that near — I don’t think he’ll get canned midseason, and this crusty Cajun surely won’t quit — but it has been declared inevitable, a matter of time.

The rest is just fodder.

“Everybody knows what’s going on,” Orgeron said during this week’s online virtual call with reporters, which centered on little else. “ We don’t need to talk about it. The focus is on beating Florida, and that’s what we’re going to do.

“I will say this, and I will say it again: No one has to tell me about the LSU expectations. I know them. I was born with them. So I understand. I understand about the LSU standard of performance. I understand my job. I get it, totally.”

This is no way to live a season.

But this is sort of life in the playoff era.

Once you’re out of that discussion in what had to be a bounce-back season, the chitchat turns to the dreaded hot seat, monitoring it as closely as the ebbs and flows of the playoff shuffling.

The old rivalries don’t matter any more — Florida, which has been LSU’s sidekick in so many wild and crazy games, was hardly mentioned this week during Orgeron’s media briefing.

Wait until Saturday, when Tiger Stadium doesn’t figure to wake up many echoes (or fans) for a hard-to-watch team coming off consecutive losses for an 11 a.m. kickoff.

It won’t get any easier for Orgeron without his best offensive player (wide receiver Kayshon Boutte) and best defensive player (Derek Stingley), along with a host of others, out with injuries for what looks like the scheduling version of the old Big Cat drill.

At LSU, you don’t get any excuses and forget about any extenuating circumstances.

Suddenly, the Quirky Crazy Cajun antics, like calling out UCLA fans or prank radio callers — the back-bayou bravado that once made Orgeron so lovable when he was winning — become more proof that he’s lost control of himself, not to mention the program.

It’s a fine line, but done-for coaches don’t get much leeway.

Least of all at LSU.

We’ve seen this show before, haven’t we?

Les Miles was 7-1 in 2015, having just lost to Alabama (who else?) when word first leaked out that the decision had already been made to fire him at season’s end.

Predictable bad losses to Arkansas and Ole Miss followed, seemingly justifying what was a curious move to outsiders.

It was a such a foregone conclusion that the sympathy vote kicked in for the final regular-season game, which Tiger Stadium turned into a Miles Lovefest from start to finish, when the smiling Miles waved to all while disappearing into the tunnel.

And then the shocking conclusion to our story: remorse and cold feet set in and then-Ahletic Director Joe Alleva had to keep a stiff upper lip to announce that Miles wasn’t fired at all.

Big misunderstanding. Nothing to see here.

So Miles was the rare coach who got to watch his own heartfelt eulogy and lived to tell about it.

Granted, it was a shortlived reprieve as Alleva did get Miles canned four games into the next season, opening the door for Orgeron to land his dream job.

Now that dream is turning into a nightmare season that could yet get worse. It would be even more shocking at this point if history repeats itself.

Maybe it’s justified. LSU football is too important to the state to lose its way like this. Surely Orgeron made mistakes, brought some of it on himself.

But it doesn’t make what is about to happen any easier to watch.

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at scooter.hobbs@americanpress.com