Tom Herman or not, Ed Orgeron and LSU deserved better than Thursday's debacle
BATON ROUGE, La. — In Louisiana, a lot of times prestige comes from what you know and where you got your information.
It’s darn near currency down in these parts.
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So it was humorous watching the LSU coaching search again become a public spectacle Thursday night.
Even as Ed Orgeron was coaching his poor heart out for LSU against Texas A&M, the news that Houston’s Tom Herman would be LSU’s next coach was all over the place.
Everybody seemed to have some form of the scoop. And it was so good, so juicy, they weren’t even going to let the guy who was apparently not getting the job coach his last game without the other guy becoming the headline.
Keep it classy, LSU.
It reminded me of a year ago, when word leaked that Les Miles would be fired and the talk got so thick, it allowed sympathy for Miles to build and, next thing you knew, at the end of a Tigers win over the Aggies in the finale, Miles was being carried off the field and athletic director Joe Alleva was declaring him LSU’s head coach going forward in the post-game press conference.
Fast forward a year. Miles was gone five games after being carried off the field. Orgeron became the interim coach, then a candidate to be the head coach. After last week’s loss to Florida, that was assumed to be over.
All that’s fine. Maybe Orgeron didn’t do enough to get the “interim” taken off his title.
But what happened Thursday?
Awkward at best.
Even as the game was unfolding on ESPN, the news that Herman would likely be named the next head coach by Saturday was scrolling on the breaking news bar. Beat reporters and sideline reporters were invading the visiting athletic director’s box for confirmation and were being shooed away.
It was comically awkward, and you felt for Orgeron, who was coaching a game without Leonard Fournette, Kendell Beckwith, Arden Key, and Travin Dural, four likely NFL players. He was on the road. He was on a short week.
And the Tigers came out and played well, which reflects extremely well on the job Orgeron did this week.
That deserves respect. The same way Miles deserved more respect than he got last year when he was left twisting in the wind for a couple of weeks as reports surfaced that he was on his way out as LSU struggled through a three-game losing streak.
In LSU’s (somewhat) defense this year, it appears the Herman reports weren’t being initiated from LSU inside sources, but from Texas. As more reports were made, LSU released a statement during the game, with Alleva saying in part that “there has been no decision made on who will be the next football coach at LSU.”
The storm started with Texas’ Scout.com site, with Chip Brown reporting that LSU was closing in on a deal with Herman. Then the ante seemed to get upped by Geoff Ketchum of Texas’ Rivals.com site, who tweeted that high-ranking Texas sources were telling him that Herman had accepted the LSU job.
He later backtracked a little, saying he wasn’t reporting that Herman was going to LSU, just that his Texas sources told him it was happening.
Other Texas sites followed, saying that Texas was moving away from Herman and leaning toward keeping Charlie Strong for another year, because in their mind, Herman was off the table.
Of course, everybody else followed. ESPN.com’s Chris Low reported that the deal could be done by Saturday, which gave the most important media outlet in sports its own reporting to scroll at the bottom of the screen.
And just like that, another LSU coaching situation became a full-blown circus.
And just like that, Jimbo Fisher was being swept aside from the discussion. We assume he turned it down. And maybe it’s a good thing for him. No need to go somewhere where the soap opera is almost as big a part of the sport as the game itself.
Alleva had better finish the deal with Herman because this already doesn’t reflect well on him. If that deal doesn’t get done, LSU might need to keep Orgeron as interim coach while they name somebody else interim AD.
And if Herman is named head coach, Alleva is going to have to deflect the talk about the hilarious hiring process and refocus it on how great of a hire Herman – an offensive guru and the hottest available coaching name of the moment — is for the Tigers.
Make no mistake, this would be a home run hire for LSU.
Of course, if he had kept things quiet, the way they should be, that would obviously be the discussion on the day he’s named.
But then again, if Alleva was able to keep things quiet, maybe Fisher would be LSU’s coach right now, finishing his first season as head coach. But that hire was screwed up by loose lips.
Will this one be screwed up too?