spkm_0907_LSU_v_Texas-10

Ed Orgeron celebrates a goal line stand against Texas at Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas on Saturday, September 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Lake Charles American Press, Kirk Meche)

It's a wonder that when Arkansas mercy-fired head coach Chad Morris two weeks ago, the Razorbacks' knee-jerk reaction wasn't to call Ed Orgeron.

OK, Orgeron probably didn't want to wear one of those plastic hog hats anymore than you would. There's a tackiness threshold that even pure-blood Cajuns don't like to cross.

And it takes a special kind of uninhibited man to willingly squeal and Call those Hogs.

So maybe not.

Besides, Orgeron already had a pretty good job. At LSU, I think.

But his name must still be there on every athletic director's speed dial somewhere under glass, marked "Break Only for Emergency Temporary Hire."

You see, for a while there, before he reeled in his dream job, Orgeron was known as America's Interim Coach, Mr. Quick Fix-it, perhaps the best in the business at it.

Nobody took him seriously as a permanent head coach, you understand, because he'd gone down in garbled-English flames when Ole Miss once threw caution to the wind and gave him the chance.

But if you just needed to get a floundering ship to safe harbor for the winter where you could hire a real candidate, Coach O was your man.

First it was Southern Cal, which fired his good friend Lane Kiffin on the airport tarmac after a road loss.

Orgeron picked up the pieces and went 6-2 with a broken team. The Trojans were all for him getting the job full-time, but the powers that be, perhaps unable to understand a word he said, never seriously considered it.

Eventually it was on to LSU, where he was standing by and handy when the Tigers' movers and shakers did the midseason firing of Les Miles, who was nothing if not popular with his players.

That made it tricky, but Orgeron infused some offense and some charisma into the deal and again went 6-2. When the Tigers' brass couldn't land any bigger fish, he got the job full-time.

It seems to be working out better than anybody could have hoped, certainly it's been more than just the Cajun carnival act everybody was expecting.

The point is, Orgeron knows well what Barry Lunney is going through this week at Arkansas while trying to pick up the pieces of one of the worst (two) seasons in SEC history.

Presumably getting the job full-time would be every bit as big for Lunney as being LSU's surprise choice was for Orgeron. Lunney, after all, is a former quarterback (and baseball player) for the Hogs.

He doesn't have the time or, most likely, the team to become a viable candidate like Orgeron did with his opportunity, although beating a 44-point favorite in Tiger Stadium Saturday night might get him a 10-year contract.

Orgeron's first interim game at LSU was a welcome eye-opener just for getting away from the Tigers' "stubborn" offense in a 42-7 win over Missouri, which to the surprise of many even turned out to be a conference victory.

LSU has had pretty good luck with interim coaches.

And some funny moments.

In 1999 offensive line coach Hal Hunter did a one-game interim gig after Gerry DiNardo was fired. LSU promptly broke a nine-game losing streak to massacre Arkansas 35-10.

Several hours after the game, Hunter and another couple of coaches wandered into a Baton Rouge pub full of media and fans of both teams. Dressed in discreet LSU polos, they looked like just ordinary fans.

Hunter ended up having a long, apparently friendly conversation with several Arkansas fans, who complimented him on how the Tigers played that day.

After the coaches left I couldn't resist asking the Arkansas fans if what I suspected was true — and it was. They had no idea they'd been talking to the guy who had been the LSU head coach that afternoon; they thought it was just another fan.

But as Orgeron is well aware, you never know how a frustrated team is going to react to getting a new coach (or losing an old one).

Arkansas was never quite good this season (or last), but when you lose 45-19 at home to Western Kentucky, there's more at work than the lack of talent. Maybe a team that looked like it had quit on the season, perhaps the head coach.

Morris always seemed like a decent enough guy, but a new voice can't hurt the Razorbacks at this point.

"I think they get juice," said Orgeron, who's been there, done that. "Every time I've been an interim coach, the next week we came out on fire. You try to change things up, you try to flip the script, get the coaches home early. I fed them cookies. I think they ate 500 cookies that first day. Everybody was happy."


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

More from this section

LSU’s national champions left for and arrived in Washington, D.C., Thursday night, ready to do the town up right and tour the White House, see the president for the second time this week and the third time this season.

NEW ORLEANS — By my somewhat unofficial count during the cattle-call scrum that was the national championship media day Saturday, Clemson star running back Travis Etienne was asked some variation of the same question 29 times in an hour-long grilling session.