WHERE IT STARTED

Orgeron recalls discovering his love for coaching while at Miami

It’s become LSU coach Ed Orgeron’s go-to comparison. You know he’s enamored with one of his players — regardless of position — when he mentions a Tiger in the same breath with “Warren Sapp.”

Any reference to the future Pro Football Hall of Famer has become Orgeron’s personal stamp of approval, courtesy of his days coaching the defensive line, with Sapp among others, at Miami during the height of the Hurricanes’ bad-boy, gleefully-taunting domination of college football.

They were wild and crazy days.

{{tncms-inline content=”<p><strong>‘That’s where I really learned how to coach . I understood the tempo of practice, how to prepare for practice, what a real practice looked like . I wanted to become that type of coach .’</strong></p> <p><strong>Ed Orgeron</strong></p> <p>Recalling what he learned from Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson</p>” id=”1873d694-2e77-480f-90bf-583a44a5bb29″ style-type=”quote” title=”Pull Quote” type=”relcontent”}}

Maybe too wild, although at the time Orgeron certainly fit right in the bedlam as a crazy-Cajun graduate assistant in 1988 and then the full-time defensive line coach for the next four years.

But you could make the case that Orgeron truly found his coaching stride at the same school that he’ll open his third season against as LSU’s head coach Sunday night in Arlington, Texas.

“That’s where I really learned how to coach,” Orgeron said this week.

Jimmy Johnson was in his last year with Miami before taking over the Dallas Cowboys when Orgeron arrived in 1988. Dennis Erickson took over the Hurricanes the following year and made Orgeron a full-time assistant.

That 1988 season as a graduate assistant included a trip to Baton Rouge, where the Hurricanes (in weather befitting their mascot) blew out LSU 44-3 in a season when the Tigers shared the Southeastern Conference title with Auburn.

After Erickson took over, Orgeron was a part of two national championships.

Heady days, indeed.

But maybe the best thing that happened to Orgeron at Miami — certainly the biggest life-changer — was eventually getting fired by the Hurricanes.

It had nothing to do with his onfield performance.

He was rolling there, with players like Cortez Kennedy and Russell Maryland to go along with Sapp.

He’d gotten the basics from a one-year stint as Arkansas’ assistant strength coach under Ken Hatfield.

But it was Miami that opened his eyes.

Under the shadow of Johnson’s perfect coif — “He was kind of like my mentor,” Orgeron said — he was a youngster on a veteran defensive staff that included future head coaches like Tommy Tuberville,

Dave Wannstedt, Dave Campo and

Butch Davis.

He soaked it all in. Loved it.

“I understood the tempo of practice,” he recalled, “how to prepare for practice, what a real practice looked like. I wanted to become that type of coach.”

Johnson, he said, was an excellent motivator who also taught him how to recruit, which would become Orgeron’s calling card for future assistant jobs.

“Then Dennis Erickson came along and gave me a chance (fulltime). We won two national championships.”

He was well on his way to “becoming that type of coach” when …

Oddly enough, the Miami experience ended in Baton Rouge, where Orgeron was visiting when he was arrested for his latest barroom fight and was forced out of the Hurricanes’ program.

It wasn’t the first incident.

Growing up on the back, back bayous of LaRose, barroom brawls were sometimes just a rite of passage, a habit that carried over to a tumultuous four-year, hell-raising, hard-drinking playing career at Northwestern State.

Just say there occasionally was property damage involved en route to his degree.

He didn’t settle down much during a year as a grad assistant with the Demons. His off-campus exploits were so legendary that the school administration nixed the idea of hiring him full-time as an assistant.

He landed at McNeese State instead for another year as a graduate assistant on John McCann’s staff before the Arkansas opportunity came up.

Then came the Miami experience, which really opened his eyes and convinced him how much he wanted to be a coach.

And, just like that, it was over.

His coaching career could have been over too.

But Orgeron made a decision.

There was a simple solution to curb his habit of punching out anybody who looked at him cross.

Orgeron quit drinking.

After a year out of football, his coaching rehab began at Syracuse — where on a bowl trip to Memphis he met wife Kelly — then to Southern Cal, which begat the head coaching job at Ole Miss.

Eventually he’d even give up the six-pack-or-so-a-day Red Bull habit that fueled some of his crazier (albeit sober) antics at that botched first head coaching job.

He’s come all the way back, and now he has his dream job in his home state.

But the groundwork for Orgeron the head coach was laid in those learning days at Miami.

He’ll be face to face with the memories come Sunday.

‘That’s where I really learned how to coach . I understood the tempo of practice, how to prepare for practice, what a real practice looked like . I wanted to become that type of coach .’

Ed Orgeron

Recalling what he learned from Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson

LSU vs. Miami

6:30 p.m. Sunday – ABC

””

Ed Orgeron

Hilary Scheinuk””

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron leads his team onto the field.

Scott Threlkeld/Associated Press””

In this Oct. 7, 2017, file photo, LSU coach Ed Orgeron takes the field with players during warm-ups for the team’s NCAA college football game against Florida in Gainesville, Fla. Saturday’s game is Orgeron’s first against Auburn as LSU coach. Orgeon initially inherited the LSU job on an interim basis after Auburn beat LSU last season, after which Les Miles was fired.

John Raoux””

Interim LSU head coach Ed Orgeron

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