5 candidates to replace Les Miles at LSU
BATON ROUGE, La. — With Les Miles and Cam Cameron out as head coach and offensive coordinator at LSU following the Tigers’ disappointing 2-2 start, rumors on the candidates to replace the Mad Hatter are out in force.
And really, it’s a similar list to what we saw last November, when Miles was reportedly on the way out but managed to save his job.
Here are five names to know:
Ed Orgeron, interim head coach, LSU
You hear “interim head coach” and you don’t think “real candidate.”
But Orgeron is different, especially in the context of the LSU job.
He’s a Louisiana native, a true Cajun, who played his college ball in Louisiana. As head coach at Ole Miss, there were always jokes about his thick Cajun accent. He’s one of the best recruiters in college football and would allow LSU to maintain the program’s biggest strength since the Nick Saban days: The ability to keep the best players in the talent-rich state at home.
If LSU does, indeed, treat this interim stage as an audition, that would also give them a mechanism where it can keep staff members it likes, such as defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.
The downside is Orgeron’s record as a head coach at Ole Miss was just 10-25 in three seasons. However, he had much more success as interim head coach at USC in 2013, leading the Trojans to a 6-2 record, but he was not given the full-time job.
Tom Herman, HC, Houston
Herman has everything LSU would want on his résumé. He’s tied to one of the SEC’s most revered coaches, having served as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Ohio State. And he’s an offensive guy that has turned Houston into the nation’s premier “Group of Five” program with a 17-1 record in two years.
He’s an offensive guy. As head coach at Houston, he recruits an area that LSU is also interested in dominating (Houston is 90 minutes from the Louisiana state line and four hours from Baton Rouge). And he’s a guy who’s probably headed to a bigger program sooner than later (maybe even by staying with UH, if the Cougars move to the Big 12).
It’s hard to find a downside at this point with Herman, outside of maybe his limited head coaching résumé.
Jimbo Fisher, HC, Florida State
A former LSU assistant under both Saban and Miles, Fisher might be ready for a fresh start.
He has a 71-15 record at FSU but appeared ready to consider a change last November when reports said he was in negotiations with LSU when the groundswell of support saved the job for Miles.
The upside? It would tie LSU back to the Saban era and the best days of the Miles era. The downside? FSU has had a little bit of a decline in the last two years (ask Louisville), and it’s not hard to see a scenario where FSU convinces him to stay.
There is a feeling out there among many that the Fisher-to-LSU ship may have already sailed.
Art Briles, former HC, Baylor
Hey, it’s offense LSU wants, right?
Well nobody put up yards and points like Briles’ Baylor teams, and the approach is pretty much an antithesis of Miles’ old-school, power football approach.
But the downside is also obvious. Baylor just had a horrible scandal that cost him his job. Does LSU even think about going that route this soon?
Bobby Petrino, HC, Louisville
Why not? He’s another offensive-minded guy mentoring a high-powered quarterback. Sure, there have been bridges burned in his career, but there’s no questioning his ability to put a good product on the field.
The downside? Louisville is on the verge of being very good for a few years, so why leave?
Others who could be on the wish list
- Dabo Swinney, Clemson: You can argue LSU’s a better job, but is it too much of a lateral move? Swinney’s winning big right now, so why leave and have to contend with Alabama every year?
- Gary Patterson, TCU: A proven winner, is the timing a little off? TCU has lost a little bit of its shine this season, but he’s still a good coach that deserves a look.
- David Shaw, Stanford: The Cardinal has been consistently good since he’s been there and are national championship contenders. But would he be a cultural fit in SEC land? LSU tried this before with Trent Johnson as head basketball coach, and that didn’t work too well.
Others who could be on the radar
- Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: It looks like the Bulldogs are on the decline, but if Mullen finds his way to a bowl, he should be a strong candidate.
- Bret Bielema, Arkansas: Maybe a bit of a stretch because his background is ground-and-pound football, something that may be a little too Miles-like at this point.
- Lane Kiffin, Alabama: Is LSU ready to go this direction? It certainly seems he’s rehabbed his name after the USC days.
- Mike Shula, Carolina Panthers: He’s in his fourth season as offensive coordinator of Cam Newton and Co. in Carolina. The former Alabama head coach (2003-06) has a lot of NFL experience.