Don't worry, LSU fans. There are more stars to replace the ones who left
That was some season, huh LSU football fans?
Ending that losing streak against you-know-who, beating all those top 10 teams, SEC championship, Heisman Trophy, first trip to the College Football Playoff, national championship, first 15-0 season.
That’s a lot to savor.
And savor it while you can because there’s already plenty of reason to wring your hands and gnash your teeth about next season.
It was bad enough that there was no loophole through which Joe Burrow could find another season.
Then less than 24 hours after celebrating the title in New Orleans, passing game coordinator Joe Brady was off to the NFL become the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers.
That’ll leave most New Orleans Saints fans conflicted since their favorite NFL team plays 2 games a year against the division rival that just hired away the most important assistant coach in the history of their favorite college team.
It was inevitable. Ed Orgeron kept saying the university knew someone would try to hire Brady and was working on a more lucrative deal to keep him. Athletic Director Scott Woodward had the parameters for a new deal in place.
But, come on, it was never realistic to think any college program could make a passing game coordinator’s job more attractive than an NFL offensive coordinator’s job.
Thanks, Joe. Great job. Good luck.
We’ll never get to see what Brady could have done with someone other than Burrow running his passing game. Brady couldn’t have done what he did without Burrow and Burrow couldn’t have done what he did without Brady.
It would have been interesting to see next season what Brady could have done with Myles Brennan or whoever else might succeed Burrow running the offense. Moving forward without either Burrow or Brady is unsettling.
After Brady’s departure came the drip, drip, drip of players with remaining eligibility announcing they were leaving for the NFL, though the dripping did go kinda fast.
Along the way, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda slipped away to become head coach at Baylor, replacing Matt Rhule after Rhule became head coach of the Panthers and hired Brady in a Kevin Bacon degrees-of-separation kind of thing.
Meanwhile, over the course of about 3 days, Grant Delpit, Justin Jefferson, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Lloyd Cushenberry III, Jacob Phillips, Patrick Queen, Saahdiq Charles, K’Lavon Chaisson and Thaddeus Moss chose the NFL over LSU.
None was a shocking decision, all were understandable. Phillips, Queen, Charles, Chaisson and Moss probably wouldn’t have been predicted before the season, but were much easier to anticipate in light of the season they and their team had.
So Orgeron has to find himself a passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach and a defensive coordinator – at least. It’s still mid-January, for crying out loud.
Brady was a wunderkind who turned 30 during his first season with the Tigers. Aranda was considered an elite defensive coordinator during his first 3 seasons with the Tigers before inconsistency by his unit led to some head scratching during this season, followed by redemption down the stretch.
Neither will be replaced easily. Orgeron astutely brought in Brady. Orgeron’s predecessor, Les Miles, astutely brought in Aranda and Orgeron astutely and successfully lobbied for a raise that kept Aranda away from Texas A&M.
Some more astuteness – stat.
Coaches recruit to the inevitable departure of seniors and the probable early departure of exceptionally mature and talented underclassmen.
Orgeron isn’t blindsided by any of this. He has to replace 4/5 of his offensive line, all of his starting linebacking corps, half of his starting secondary … oh, and the quarterback who just had the most prolific season in NCAA history.
Talk about needing a “next man up” mentality.
LSU fans can continue to savor this historic season right up until the Sept. 5 season opener.
As for Orgeron, his staff and the Tigers that remain and are arriving, there’s a lot of work to be done.
But there’s a flip side to this.
This is Orgeron’s dream job. He knows it inside and out. He knew what he was getting into to when he took it and he embraced it.
This could be a “be careful what you wish for” moment except Orgeron already has done the hardest part.
Just as Brady, Aranda and 9 underclassmen have moved on to better opportunities, so too are assistant coaches elsewhere and high school players looking to move on to better opportunities.
After watching what the Tigers’ coaches and players accomplished this season, there should be plenty of interested, worthy replacements for Orgeron to consider.