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LSU, coach Orgeron to part ways at end of season

The announcement comes the day after the Tigers upset Florida. “It is time for a new direction,” athletic director Scott Woodward says.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron, on the sideline during an upset of Florida on Saturday, will leave the team after this season in a mutual agreement with the school, reports said Sunday.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron, on the sideline during an upset of Florida on Saturday, will leave the team after this season in a mutual agreement with the school, reports said Sunday. [ MATTHEW HINTON | AP ]
Published Oct. 17
Updated Oct. 18

LSU and coach Ed Orgeron have agreed to part ways after this season, 21 months after he led the Tigers to a national championship with what is considered one of the greatest teams in college football history.

“We have very high standards for all of our sports programs at LSU, and we will stand proudly behind our expectations of competing for SEC and national championships year in and year out,” athletic director Scott Woodward said Sunday night. “Our last two seasons have simply not met that standard, and based on our on-field results and our evaluation of the potential for future immediate success, it is time for a new direction.”

The timing of the decision — the day after the Tigers (4-3) upset Florida — was a surprise, though the end for Orgeron seemed to be approaching soon after a blowout loss to Kentucky the previous weekend.

Orgeron, who grew up in Larose, La., said in a written statement from LSU: “I have loved LSU since I first touched a football in Lafourche Parish in the late 1960s. I loved them every step of my professional journey — even from far away — as my career took me across America.

“I always understood the expectations at LSU, and they are the same expectations I have for myself and our staff. I am disappointed that we have not met these expectations over the past two years.”

The win over Florida at home Saturday made LSU 9-8 since beating Clemson for the national championship Jan. 13, 2020.

Orgeron is 49-17 with the Tigers in six seasons, including 15-0 in 2019, when Joe Burrow won the Heisman Trophy and LSU earned its third national championship in 17 seasons.

Orgeron, 60, received a six-year contract extension after the 2019 season. According to USA Today, he is scheduled to make $9 million this season, the second-highest salary in major-college football, behind Alabama’s Nick Saban.

Orgeron’s buyout, according to USA Today, was more than $17 million if he was let go before Dec. 1.

LSU was 5-5 during the pandemic-altered 2020 season. Off the field, Orgeron was dogged by claims that he didn’t properly report allegations of sexual misconduct by his players, an accusation he has denied. In December 2020, the Tigers added a bowl ban to its list of self-imposed sanctions stemming from improper benefits being made to players by boosters and others. LSU had already self-imposed a loss of eight scholarships over two years; a reduction in recruiting visits, evaluations and communication; and a ban of Cleveland Browns wide receiver and former Tiger Odell Beckham Jr. from its football facilities for two years.

Expectations were high that the Tigers would be back among the top teams in the SEC this year after Orgeron overhauled his coaching staff. Instead, they suffered a high-profile loss at UCLA in September, and their season has slid from there.

Orgeron became LSU’s coach after being named interim coach four games into the 2016 season following the midseason firing of Les Miles, who had also won a national title with the Tigers.

Orgeron went 6-2 as interim coach and was given a long-term contract by then-athletic director Joe Alleva.

Woodward replaced Alleva in 2019.

LSU won nine games in 2017 and 10 in 2018 before everything came together in 2019, with Burrow and a slew of players who went on to become first-round NFL draft picks. That team was quickly stripped of many of its key parts, with players entering the draft and key coaches leaving for other jobs.

Co-offensive coordinator Joe Brady, credited with being the architect of a record-setting offense in 2019, left for an NFL gig with the Carolina Panthers, and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda become the head coach at Baylor.

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