NCAA

How Ed Orgeron Saved the LSU Tigers by Putting His Ego Aside

The LSU Tigers look like one of college football’s best teams so far this season. They’ve managed to go undefeated thus far despite playing in the nation’s best conference. Many believe the team has gotten where it has because their head coach, Ed Orgeron, was able to admit he was wrong in one crucial way. Orgeron’s humility has cleared the way for success. 

So what was Orgeron wrong about, and how has LSU managed to be this good so far? 

LSU’s season 2019 season overview so far

LSU has always been one of the nation’s top programs, but they’ve looked like an absolute juggernaut in 2019. Through seven games, they’re 7-0. Big victories include a two-touchdown win over Florida, 42-28, a 66-38 trouncing of Vanderbilt, and a razor-thin victory over the Big 12’s Texas Longhorns at 45-38. 

Key SEC matchups loom with teams like Auburn, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and the dreaded Alabama Crimson Tide, but the way they’re playing, LSU appears to be right in the college football playoff mix. 

The key change Ed Orgeron made this season

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Ed Orgeron added William and Mary product Joe Brady to the team’s staff as its passing game coordinator this season. Brady serves under the head coach Orgeron as well as offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger.

Despite only being 30 years old, he has been called a “game-changer” for the team according to Orgeron. Brady previously coached at his alma mater, William and Mary, as well as Penn State and the New Orleans Saints.

Orgeron has mainly left Brady to his own devices rather than interfere in an area he may not be as well-versed in: 

“Now, there’s some young and up-and-coming coaches like we have on our staff, and I have no problem listening to them, especially in an area where I’m not in expertise. My expertise is motivation, recruiting, defensive line play, and I work as hard as I can on those subjects, and let the other guys I hired, people who are experts at their position, and let ’em go.” 

How has Orgeron’s and LSU’s change worked out for the team this year? In two words: very well. 

How Ed Orgeron saved the LSU Tigers by admitting he was wrong about one thing

Coaching-wise, Ed Orgeron is typically known for his emphasis on defense and an old-school style offense. LSU as a team traditionally emphasizes an approach built around the running game. This year, LSU’s offense has been better than ever — and they’ve done it through the air. 

Quarterback Joe Burrow is the leading candidate for the Heisman. He’s passed for 2,484 yards with 29 touchdowns to only three interceptions. The team is scoring 50.1 points per game, the second-highest total in the nation. They’re passing for 385.7 yards per game with 540 yards of total offense. 

ESPN’s Rece Davis praised Orgeron for enabling the shift in LSU’s culture on offense: 

“A lot of coaches say ‘Well, we need to change. We need to get more explosive. We need to do this, we need to do that.’ Yet, they’ve reached the level where they are due to a certain philosophy and a lot of times coaches are too stubborn, too scared, too set in their ways, whatever, to change. But he allowed the change.”

It would be easy for a coach with as much experience as Orgeron to dig in his heels and stubbornly refuse to adapt the way he approached the game. But by allowing Brady to make adjustments to LSU’s style, the team may be on the path to greatness. It’s allowed LSU’s offense to flourish in ways they rarely have. Burrow has easily become one of the best passers in the nation. 

Many coaches wouldn’t pave the way for change like Orgeron did, but he should be commended for not letting his ego get in the way of success.