SEC Media Days Football

FILE: LSU head coach Ed Orgeron speaks during NCAA college football Southeastern Conference media days at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/John Amis)

HOOVER, Ala. — Maybe the SEC is coming around on Ed Orgeron.

The media, at least, for whatever that's worth, seems to be.

Maybe it's just taken a few years for the press corps to understand that unique Cajun gravel-garble accent in a formal setting without a translator.

But it was clear Monday as Coach O took the center stage on the podium at SEC Media Days that he's turned the corner in public perception.

He's not just a novelty act anymore.

Nobody checks to make sure he's wearing shoes.

Gradually, perhaps, but it appears he's now being taken seriously outside the Bayou State.

Maybe he's not just a guy that everybody would love to see succeed in his dream job, if only for how good of a story it makes to have an unapologetic, full-blooded, back-of-the-bayou Cajun coaching Louisiana's Flagship football program.

Outside the state, you'd mostly hear that, even though it's a noble experiment, a program of LSU's pedigree would eventually see the folly of its ways and move on.

Monday seemed different.

Perhaps he's the goods. Maybe he can actually coach.

Maybe it's possible to know mama's gumbo recipe by heart — part of his charm — and still coach the daylights out of a team that means so much to his beloved home state.

It's not a startling revelation within Louisiana, but the rest of the SEC might be understandably skeptical.

His appearance Monday was notable as much for what he wasn't asked as for what he was.

The "hot seat" was never mentioned, nor was there any reference to pressure to "win now" or finally find or develop in the middle of all those high-rated recruiting classes.

None of the questioners brought up his sordid coaching past — the 3-24 SEC record during those comically inept three years in his first go-round as a head coach at Ole Miss.

But that Coach BéBé doesn't live at LSU anymore.

He's not just for grins and giggles anymore.

There seemed to be legitimate interest in what he might do to take the next step, maybe even one day figure out a way to beat Alabama.

Orgeron looked the part Monday.

He was far more at ease than in his two previous LSU appearances here.

Certainly more confident.

No mistaking the accent, but he sounded like any other successful head coach.

He almost veered off-track early. He was teetering on the brink of breaking the Media Days Golden Rule by dragging the whole ballroom through a step-by-step tour of the enter depth chart.

But he quickly recovered and got back on track to explain why's he's so excited about an upcoming season.

The same media bunch that thought little of the Tigers heading into last season — they were picked to finish fifth in the SEC West — is paying a little more attention following a 10-win season and a New Year's Day win over Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl.

Orgeron looked totally at ease with the idea of facing higher expectations this year.

LSU safety Grant Delpit said it was there all along.

"Coach O is the same Cajun guy," the All-American said. "He's not going to change. He's not going to get big-headed. He's not going to get worried. He's still going to be the same guy. No, I don't think he's changed."

Still maybe it took some trial and error.

But ...

"I'm much more comfortable being head coach of LSU," Orgeron said. "I do believe we have our players in. I believe last year was pivotal year. We've proven we can win.

"Having a 10-win season is good. It is not great. It puts us in position to take the next step at LSU, for what LSU deserves.

"I do believe I have a lot better staff today than I've ever had. I have guys that are experts at the position, guys that understand the expectations of myself and LSU."

There was more.

When he noted that LSU was "two plays away from being 12-1" instead of 10-3, it wasn't defensive at all, not even a hint of a what-if.

"We've got to expound on that this year," he said. "We cannot make the mistakes we made against Florida. We had opportunities to win the (seven-overtime) game at Texas A&M. Those are the two things we need to look at."

It's was quite a difference from when he made his appearance a year ago.

"Last year there was negativity," Orgeron admitted. "People didn't know what type of football team we were going to have. Talking about this, talking about that. Now this year they say we're going to have a really good football team, and I do believe we're going to have a really good football team."

The difference?

Nobody seemed to be doubting him.

Or snickering.

More from this section