November 19, 2017

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Playing for Bay Bay: LSU Coach Offers Change of Pace

photo by Buddy Delahoussaye

Written By:  Paul Angelle

photo by Buddy Delahoussaye– during the first half of a SEC game between Missouri and the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge on Saturday October 1, 2016.

It was 1988 and Ed Orgeron, a graduate assistant football coach at the University of Arkansas, had just learned he got a job coaching defensive linemen for Hall of Fame Coach Jimmy Johnson at the University of Miami. He was told to be there the next day, but his car at the time was leaking oil.

“I stopped at the shop,” laughs the always animated Orgeron.  “I got myself a six pack of oil and a case of beer and I was off to south Florida.”

After one of the coaches meetings, Johnson told Orgeron that he wanted to see him in his office.  The new coach fumbled to pick up his notebooks, and the head coach explained, “I don’t want you to bring your books… come talk to me.”

In his office, Johnson said, “Ed, I want you to learn something from me today.”

Then he asked, “Do you want to be a great coach?”

“Yes Sir,” Orgeron replied.

“Then get great players,” Johnson commanded.

“You got it,” Orgeron said as the meeting was over.

While it might seem obvious that success on the field is usually proportional to the ability and skill of the players… but Johnson was communicating more than that, and Orgeron was all ears.

“Ever since then I’ve been on a mission,” says Orgeron.  “I understand it’s about the players – not about the coaches.

“You’ve got to be a good coach, but you can’t do it without great players,” adds Orgeron.

Orgeron, sometimes called Bay Bay, Coach O or Ed Jr., learned how to coach on the field as he was part of a two-time national championship run at Miami under Johnson.  He learned about the right intensity and he learned the art of making players believe in their coach.

Speaking of great players, Orgeron had a few in Miami.  He had Russell Maryland, Cortez Kennedy, Warren Sapp and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

“One day after practice coming off the field I said, ‘Dwayne (Johnson), you’re terrible… You should go be a wrestler or something,’ He took that good

photo by Buddy Delahoussaye– during the first half of a SEC game between Missouri and the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge on Saturday October 1, 2016.

advice,” says Orgeron smiling.

Orgeron has always been considered a players’ coach, and is hard to beat as a recruiter, but when he was hired as a defensive line coach in 2015 he had already decided to “flip the script” on his experiences.

He decided to take inventory of his experiences… cataloging success and failures and making sure he learned from both.  That came in handy when LSU relieved Head Coach Les Miles of his employment during the 2016 season, and named Orgeron interim Head Coach.  

After winning five of the remaining seven games, Orgeron was named as the “permanent” head coach in time to lead LSU to victory in the Citrus Bowl over Louisville.

Orgeron quickly became popular with the players when he shortened practices and increased film study.  He lives by the philosophy that, not only must a coach identify, evaluate and assist a player… A coach must develop every player.

“They gotta get better when they get on your campus,” says Orgeron.

About Andy Bryson 548 Articles
Founder of Louisiana Gridiron Football and football coach

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