Numbers don’t add up, LSU’s winning

Let’s get this out of the way right here at the top.

LSU’s upset of Auburn, which apparently shocked most of the world that wasn’t crammed into the Tigers’ dressing room, did not get head coach Ed Orgeron off the “Hot Seat.”

Calling in a technicality here.

But, generally speaking, to get “off” something, one must first be “on” something.

And Orgeron was NOT on any dreaded Hot Seat to start the season.

Most likely a case of mistaken identity.

Oh, you probably heard differently. You probably heard the rumors, which were mostly the work of outside agitators.

I’m not sure where this Hot Seat High Tribunal meets. Probably down in one of those secret caverns under a mountain somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Maybe one of the retired underground silos where they used to keep the ICBMs for when we, the people, used to get agitated with the Ruskies.

The rules are a little vague, too.

How, exactly, does the hot seat work? Does it have its own Robert’s Rules of Order?

How many fans have to submit formal complaints before the tribunal takes notice and Jon Gruden’s wife is spotted in town house hunting?

Do those poor coaches chosen to sit on it get called into Dean Wormer’s office for a formal dressingdown meeting beforehand?

Do you get a registered letter in the mail?

Do you get your one phone call?

At one point in the process does the equally dreaded “vote of confidence” speech come from the athletic director, at which time the moving vans start circling the block like sharks?

But by any criteria, Orgeron wasn’t on the Hot Seat before the season began.

Mainly, in Orgeron’s case, Athletic Director Joe Alleva has no incentive to get rid of him.

This may have been lost on the national pundits.

Alleva isn’t the most popular guy on campus anyway, and Orgeron was his big, must-win hire. Alleva’s fate is probably joined at the hip with Coach O, so he has no incentive to mount a coup attempt like the one that finally snared Les Miles (after a clumsy, failed attempt).

Orgeron’s status for this season would be more accurately described as the Hot Seat in Waiting.

Barring a total meltdown, nothing was ever going to happen this year. What could happen is that he could be put squarely on the Hot Seat for next year and let the clock start ticking.

It doesn’t appear that will be the case.

It’s easy to understand the confusion.

Nationally, Orgeron is still viewed as this lovable, rough-edged Cajun cartoon character, which makes for a great story in Louisiana, but also sometimes makes it hard for the outside world to take him seriously.

Maybe they’re coming around now and noticing that he does wear shoes to most formal occasions.

If we work with the fallacy that Orgeron WAS on the Hot Seat, here’s where we stand now with the Tigers having fast-tracked from No. 25 in the preseason to No. 6 in just three weeks.

Off the Hot Seat.

There has even been idle chatter nationally that, if you just base it on (an admittedly small) body of work, LSU and Orgeron should at least be No. 2 in the country.

That’s probably a reach.

In fact, Orgeron’s LSU is the first school in 42 years to beat two top-10 teams in the first three weeks of a season.

In his first 24 games as the Tigers’ coach he has seven wins over top 25 teams, which is more at this stage of their LSU careers than Nick Saban, Les Miles and all the Paul Dietzels at sea. He’s 4-2 against top-10 teams, which is just as many wins in that time frame as Saban has.

How about a little respect, huh?

Learned football minds, having taken note, are trying to decipher it all, and have determined that it doesn’t add up.

They’re probably right.

True, LSU has already beaten teams that were ranked No. 8 and No. 7. But the Tigers have at least two, probably three and maybe even four teams left on the schedule that are better than Miami and Auburn.

So Orgeron is now answering to charges that LSU is using some sleight of hand, and that this fast start is not sustainable.

The numbers don’t add up.

The No. 6 team in the country, having finally found a quarterback, is dead last in the 14-team Southeastern Conference in total offense, scoring offense, passing offense, passing percentage and, yes, even rushing offense.

Somehow that offense has looked better on the field than it has on paper.

Certainly it has looked far better when it had to — say, the fourth quarter at Auburn — which is probably just as important as padding stats.

If the numbers on this work in progress ever catch up to the results, then the Tigers might really be on to something as the schedule gets ever tougher.

“We’re ready to take off,” quarterback Joe Burrow said.

Until then, Orgeron will be accused of using smoke and mirrors.

But isn’t that what great coaching is all about?


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

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