WASHINGTON: Ed Orgeron is the head football coach at Louisiana State University (L.S.U.) He is local, loyal and he has never quit. He is proud of his Louisiana and Cajun roots and the game he has cherished since a boy. Orgeron epitomizes what college football once, but no longer is. He is no Don Quixote. He is honor in a politically correct world of sport.
When old-timers look at college football today, they must marvel at guys like Ed Orgeron and the heart and spirit he brings. He is what the game once taught: Failure is not the end of the effort. It is the beginning of success.
Ed Orgeron is a rare breed.
He is one of the few coaches who was hired by a major university (Ole Miss) and after a three-season (2005-07) won-loss record of 10-25 fired, only to be rehired as a head coach nine years later in the same major conference, the SEC.
Most coaches experiencing such a dismal head coaching debut are left to work at position coaching if they coach at all; or if further employed as a head coach, relegated to the less than major college ranks.
Orgeron was fortunate in that though unsuccessful at winning games he was successful at finding good players as the players he recruited for Ole Miss turned it around somewhat under his replacement, Houston Nutt. This recruiting talent landed him a job at Southern Cal and through a series of events he got a second chance at head coaching as interim coach and produced a 6-2 record at USC. However, it didn’t get him the job permanently and highly successful coach Pete Carrol was hired.
But Oregon loves the game for what it was in spite of what it has become and returned to his roots in Louisiana as an assistant under Les Miles at L.S.U. in 2016.
When Bear Bryant left Texas A&M in 1958 to go to Alabama, he said it best: “When Mama says come home, you gotta go.”
Ed Orgeron heard mama calling.
And like a good son of Louisiana, he went home, as an assistant coach. He went to where tradition had not completely died as it had at so many places. His former employer, Ole Miss at the top of a long list of SEC teams to skewer tradition.
Once again while an assistant he was hired as interim head coach upon the dismissal of highly successful head coach Les Miles. Orgeron got a second chance. Quitters don’t get second chances. He soon was hired as “permanent” head coach.
Orgeron spoke and speaks proudly of his Cajun accent, the “Purple and Gold” and even the Tigers as “tough.” And these Tigers are “The fighting Tigers” named after the Louisiana Confederate Fighting Tigers. It is again part of Orgeron’s character: local. Local is home, family and Southern.
In a sea of politically correct ESPN blabbermouths, most of whom wouldn’t know a pigskin from coonskin, Oregon holds true and admits to praying each day for his gratitude. He has what he calls that Bayou Blood.
Anyone with enough years behind them might still look forward to the upcoming college football season, though not with the same delight they once had. The younger fans see something but without the contrast of the past to realize what a blathering, monetized ballyhooed spectacle it now is. It is a game for Nike and ESPN to fund college budgets, filled out in order to cover most of the waste of universities on nonsense like “Women’s Studies” etc., ad nauseam.
It is now a national game. And like all things national, not local, it is bloated and pedestrian. It is not a game that Grantland Rice or Bill Stern would recognize.
Once it was a tough game for young men who were taught the rewards for pain and suffering.
And it indeed once was a game for men. Today, women have taken the place of those men who were less than talented enough to make the team but were loyal enough to work as what was called “water boys.” Now their loyalty and grit have been displaced by girls, politically correctness, and of course the concomitant lawsuits. Thank you Title Nine.
Perhaps men like Obergon can shine as an example for the game. Leadership, after all, is largely demonstrated by example. Obergon’s examples of devotion to his roots and his determination might cultivate a new character among those coaches, players, and administrators, who cow on the politically correct sidelines.
Maybe the old-time game won’t return. But Obergon will remain loyal. And he will love the Cajun Bayous. And he won’t quit.
From the “old-timers”: Thank you Coach O.