The Orgeron way: Face-to-face meetings key to rebuilding staff

Scooter Hobbs

HOOVER, Ala. — Heading into his sixth year as LSU’s head coach, Ed Orgeron has learned a lot.

One thing, in particular.

“Do it the way I want. That’s it,” he said here Monday at SEC Media Days.

“If it’s not done the way I want, I’m going to fix it. If I see something broke, I’m fixing it.”

There must have been a lot to tidy up after the Tigers followed up 2019’s historic national championship with a 5-5 encore.

LSU will head into the season with 19 returning starters from the final game, but also with six new assistant coaches, including three coordinators.

All had face-toface interviews, which would seem like a given, but — partly due to the pandemic — wasn’t always the case with last season’s newcomers on the staff.

“There were some interviews that were not face to face,” Orgeron admitted. “There were some hires that were made (like) I know the guy, he knows me, let’s talk about it. Hey, this is what we’re going to run, stuff like that.

“I said I would never do that again.”

So each of the incoming six had personal interviews and were researched heavily by Orgeron.

“I had a long interview with them, specific questions that I asked, things that I maybe should have asked or shouldn’t have.”

Those coaches may have thought Orgeron was dumbing down the interviews.

But it was part of his plan.

“Our coaches didn’t know this,” he said. “But when I was interviewing them, I was pretending I was one of our players, and I wanted to see how well they would communicate to our players.

“Coaches are going to know a lot of football, but it’s how much that they can get to our players and how much our players will know.

“Every one of these coaches made an A-plus in communication with our players.”

The face-to-face interviews might not have prevented last season’s most glaring flame-out as the defense, often looking lost in space, floundered under new coordinator Bo Pelini, admittedly a disaster of a hire.

“I believed in him, and it just didn’t work.”

But …

“If I’d have interviewed Bo Pelini face to face, I would have still hired him, no question about that because of his reputation and because of the guy I knew. “

This year he relied heavily on recommendations from coaches he trusted.

The goal was to bring back the video-game offense that Joe Brady directed to the national championship before leaving for the Carolina Panthers — and new coordinator Jake Peetz served under Brady in the NFL and came highly recommended,

Former Orgeron coordinator Dave Aranda, now head coach at Baylor, had a say in Pelini’s replacement, Daronte Jones, who came from the Minnesota Vikings.

“Very instrumental in me hiring both of our coordinators,’ Orgeron said. “In fact, that’s about 80 percent of it, to be honest with you.”

“I did my research. I called people that knew them. I wanted to know how they interacted with the players. I called some of the ex-players that they coached, I said, ‘Tell me how he is on a daily basis.’ Everybody can be one way in an interview, but I want to know how they’re going to be every day.”

For one thing, Orgeron said, the new coaches are going to be, on average, about 20 years younger than the coaches they’re replacing.

“They’re in the office early in the morning. They’re very well organized. They understand what I want, and they’ve done a good job with it. So I see no problem for us continuing the LSU standard of performance.

“Now we’ve got to coach better, and we’ve got to play better.”

””

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron speaks to the media during the 2021 SEC Football Kickoff Media Days on Monday at the Wynfrey Hotel in Hoover, Alabama.

Jimmie Mitchell / Special to the American Press

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