Who will be LSU's next head coach?
- Who will LSU hire to replace Les Miles? A panel of editors and writers predict who will be leading the Tigers in 2017.
The college football world is still coming to grips with the news that LSU has fired longtime coach Les Miles. The Mad Hatter won a lot of games in Baton Rouge, and this season he was in charge of a team expected to make a push for the College Football Playoff. That seems extremely unlikely at this point, so it’s no surprise that the focus has shifted to LSU’s future. Who will the Tigers hire to replace Miles? While LSU named former defensive line coach Ed Orgeron the interim coach and most of the speculation surrounds Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Houston’s Tom Herman, plenty of coaches from other programs would be intrigued by the idea of leading an SEC West powerhouse surrounded by favorable recruiting territory. A panel of SI.com writers and editors predicts who the Tigers will tab as Miles’ successor.
Pete Thamel: Tom Herman
LSU is going to essentially have a two-person search for its next head coach—Herman or Fisher. For now, a slight edge should go to Herman. But making a definitive prediction is foolish, as there are still job situations at Texas, USC and a few other bluebloods that need to shake out before a definitive read on the market can emerge.
Andy Staples: Herman
It's Herman unless USC decides to fire Clay Helton. I don't think Fisher would leave Florida State at this point, but I do think LSU would be the most attractive job to Herman unless the job near his hometown opens. Herman grew up in Simi Valley, Calif. He want to college at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks, Calif. But Helton is in year one, and things would have to get even worse at USC before the Trojans made a move. Herman would be outstanding at LSU, too. Where LSU's old staff could take a four-star quarterback recruit and run him into the ground, Herman can take a three-star athlete who at one time was moved to receiver and develop him into one of the nation's best quarterbacks. So imagine that kind of coach with the kind of players LSU can recruit.
Brian Hamilton: Bobby Petrino
You may wonder: Brian, how long were you drinking before providing this roundtable answer? My retort: This is Louisiana, and few places are more fantastically weird than Louisiana. Stay with me here. Fisher stays at Florida State, because Florida State remains a very good job with an easier path to a championship. Herman goes to Texas or USC, where the path to championships is similarly manageable. And Petrino rides the Lamar Jackson Express to the playoff or a New Year's Six bowl. Then he ditches for a massive payday at an SEC school desperate for offensive innovation, no matter the coach's past sins. Think about it. Think about it long and hard. Soon, my child, you will understand: This kind of crazy works perfectly at LSU.
Joan Niesen: Larry Fedora
Obviously Herman and Fisher have to top LSU's list, but I don't think either will budge for myriad reasons: LSU's lack of administrative stability, the fact that Fisher passed a year ago (what's changed to lure him now?), Herman's apparent patience in terms of holding out for the perfect job post-Houston. After those two, I think Fedora may be the next-best potential candidate, and jumping from a good UNC team to a program the likes of LSU, with its tradition, facilities and recruiting clout, makes sense.
Lindsay Schnell: Ed Orgeron
I'm going to take a leap of faith in the LSU administration and predict Ogeron. While I am not a fan of the midseason firing—I think it signifies panic to the players—I do think Coach O will do a good job. He's been in this position before, with USC. And I think by doing a good job with the Tigers, it will further prove that his Ole Miss days are far behind him, and he's worthy of another shot at a Power 5 head coaching gig. Also, I think Fisher has a better job than LSU right now, and that Herman is too smart to go to a school with an administration that comes across as clueless.
Colin Becht: Jimbo Fisher
LSU inquired about Fisher’s interest last year and presumably got negative feedback since Fisher stayed put at Florida State and Miles kept his job. So why do I think this time will be different? Because Miles hadn’t been fired yet when LSU reached out last time. Now that the Tigers have made the move, they won’t take no for an answer. Whatever the cost, they’ll pay it if it’ll convince Fisher to jump. The biggest possible obstacle might be if Florida State rebounds from its loss to Louisville to make the playoff. When you’ve fired your coach in September, can you really afford to wait until mid-January to name his successor?
Gabriel Baumgaertner: David Cutcliffe
Is this likely? Of course not. Should LSU give this hire some serious thought? Absolutely. This is the school that would be an annual national title contender if it was able to develop a quarterback. Who better to do that than Cutcliffe? Trusted developer of Peyton and Eli Manning and a man who converted Duke—a program that once made Kansas look desirable—into an annual 8–9 win team. Whether Cutcliffe wants the shot is unknown; why leave the comfortable and scenic gothic of Durham for the pressure cooker of Baton Rouge? But if he expresses interest, the Tigers should strongly consider him. His work with the Blue Devils has been masterful.
Chris Johnson: Lane Kiffin
LSU enters every season with one major goal: Beat Saban. The Tigers can't hire Alabama coach Nick Saban, but they might be able to pluck one of the top guys on his staff. Kiffin's track record as a head coach doesn't suggest he's ready to take this kind of job right now, but his shrewd playcalling would be a refreshing change of pace to the predictable fare Cam Cameron was rolling out every Saturday. Plus, there's a distinct possibility Kiffin, freed from Alabama's rigid media policies, would do away with subtweeting and Bitmojis and just straight up start calling out opposing coaches, Harbaugh-style. This probably won't happen, but hey, why not?
Ben Estes: Fedora
I just don’t see Fisher here—Florida State is too good of a situation. And though Herman could take the gig, in the end, I think he’ll be content to wait for an opening where he doesn’t have to compete with Saban and deal with a suspect AD. That leaves … not a lot of inspiring choices, but Fedora might be the best of the bunch, and he’d likely leap at the chance to leave an uncertain situation at UNC for a program like LSU, which would bring a bigger payday.