Shared false memory
Coaches recall meeting, but details are fuzzy
There’s been another flare-up in the quest to find something other than “The Boot” to turn LSU and Arkansas into blood rivals.
It was a typical Southeastern Conference he-said/she-said controversy and, as usual, a Waffle House was at the center of it.
The story got legs early in the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference Wednesday and threatened to turn into a John Grisham novel before the morning was over, a pleasant break from the normal coach-speak.
Spoiler alert: Apparently there are no hard feelings between the two head coaches, who’ll go head to head in Fayetteville on Saturday night, even though LSU’s Ed Orgeron once turned down the chance to hire Arkansas’ Chad Morris while the latter was still in the midst of a legendary Texas high school coaching career at Stephenville.
Orgeron was head coach at Ole Miss at the time and filling out his staff.
The job didn’t materialize for Morris, but that’s not important now.
One thing both coaches agreed on — the key element in the story — was that the job interview took place at a Waffle House in Oxford, Mississippi
Orgeron was recruiting Jevan Snead, one of Morris’ quarterbacks at Stephenville High School, when Snead called Morris and asked him to fly to meet him in Oxford for his official visit.
Morris obliged and, while there, Orgeron asked him to interview for a job.
Morris could not remember from that night at the Waffle House if the job opening was to be tight ends coach or perhaps slot receivers.
Just one problem: Oxford, for all its genteel Southern charm, does not happen to have a Waffle House — yet somehow thinks of itself as an SEC college town anyway.
It’s possible Orgeron was confused.
Last year, for instance, just before he returned with the Tigers to his old haunts in Oxford, Orgeron made a Chevron service station unnaturally famous for its chicken-on-a-stick special.
But in originally singing the food’s praises while remembering that he ate there every Friday, Orgeron at first referred to it an “Exxon” station.
But Morris even claimed to remember that he ordered “The No. 1” on the Waffle House menu.
And there is a Waffle House in Batesville, about 25 miles away for Oxford.
That’s a possibility.
And Morris said there was a follow-up interview at the American Football Coaches Association convention that year.
Bottom line: Orgeron instead hired Hugh Freeze, who eventually became Ole Miss’ head coach after Orgeron’s successor, Houston Nutt, was fired. Freeze himself was fired after a scandal just before last season.
“I remind him every now and then that he didn’t hire me,” Morris said on the teleconference. “So he said, “It worked out pretty good. It’s all good. Coach has done a fabulous job everywhere he’s been.”
Orgeron, of course, failed miserably in his first head job with the Rebels, going 10-25 in three season from 2005-07. But in his second full season at his dream job with LSU he has the Tigers 7-2 and ranked No. 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
Morris also landed on his feet. He finally made the move to college in 2010 to Tulsa, then Clemson, as an offensive coordinator before getting the Southern Methodist head coaching job in 2010.
This is his first year at Arkansas, where he’s trying to bring his high-powered offensive philosophy to a program accustomed to grinding things out.
The Razorbacks are 2-7, 0-5 SEC, heading into Saturday game.
The mystery of where that interview actually took place, however, may never be solved.
Morris is certain of one thing, however.
“I got Ed to pay for it,” he recalled. “It was good.”
Saturday 6:30 p.m., SECN
First-year Arkansas head coach Chad Morris crossed paths with LSU’s Ed Orgeron years ago when Orgeron was at Ole Miss. The two met to discuss a job for Morris on Orgeron’s staff, but details of the meeting are sketchy.