Florida shocked LSU, 16-10, Saturday in Baton Rouge, earning the Gators the SEC East title. It was a game that was a big loss not only for LSU, but others as well. For starters, Tennessee was eliminated from contention in the East. And, all of college football is now subjected to what could be an ugly Alabama-Florida SEC title game.
Yet, there wasn’t a single bigger loser than LSU interim head coach Ed Orgeron. There’s simply no other way to put it: The loss eliminated Orgeron from the possibility of getting the LSU job full-time at the end of the season. Whether it’s Jimbo Fisher, Tom Herman or another name, someone other than Orgeron will be leading the Tigers out of the tunnel on opening weekend next year.
Now in defense of Coach O, it was always going to be an uphill battle. When he took over following Les Miles’ firing, it was obvious it would take something major to keep the job. If he won out, it felt like the gig was his. If he went 7-1 with a loss to Alabama, maybe. But even then, there were no guarantees.
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Still, once Coach O did walk into the interim chair, he almost immediately began to change that narrative. The Tigers had a record-setting day against Missouri in his debut, and by the end of his third game, LSU had set three offensive records, in three wins. After the Tigers lost to Alabama two weeks ago, there was hope. Nobody has come close to beating the Crimson Tide and no played them tougher than LSU did in a 10-0 home loss.
Following the Alabama game, a straightforward scenario was in place for Coach O: Win out against Arkansas, Florida and Texas A&M, and earn serious consideration. If that were to happen, Orgeron would have finished his stint at 7-1 overall, with his final three wins against ranked teams.
It wasn’t meant to be. Against Florida, everything that could go wrong did. LSU scored a touchdown on its opening possession, and never found the end zone again. Florida did just enough, including a shocking, one-play, 98 yards scoring “drive” in the third quarter, for its only touchdown of the afternoon. Two field goals, and a 16-10 loss later, and it’s clear it just wasn’t LSU’s day. Or Coach O’s.
It is also sets in the sad reality that no matter what happens on Thanksgiving night at Kyle Field against Texas A&M, Orgeron isn’t getting the job.
Understand, that while part of it was the loss, it was also “how” LSU lost. Remember, this is a school that fired Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in large part because they hadn’t put together a competitive offense in years, and Saturday it looked like turn back the clock night in Baton Rouge. As I joked on Twitter, it was nice of LSU to honor both Miles and Cameron on Senior Day.
What was especially disappointing was the final series. The Tigers got the ball back down six with 3:24 left, and drove into the red zone. Once there it looked like “the same old LSU.” Danny Etling completed a short pass to Malachi Dupre for six yards, that not only didn’t get the Tigers the winning score, but didn’t get a first down, which saw a precious 15 seconds run off the clock. From there, LSU called three run plays for virtually no gain, including a pathetic toss to Derrius Guice that was stuffed on the goal line on the final play of the game.
For LSU fans, it felt like way too much of a reminder of the last several years of the Miles era. A disjointed offense was disorganized in the most important moments of the game, and the goal-line, play-calling was atrocious.
It also means that months after Miles was relieved of his duties as LSU’s head coach, Orgeron is destined for the same fate after Texas A&M this week.
Get the carousel moving. LSU is going to be in the market for a new coach.