At the conclusion of his fifth season with the Tigers, current Head Coach Ed Orgeron will no longer represent the purple and gold. He’s leaving one of the best positions in all of college sports, but there must be a proper fit for both parties to be happy and LSU to introduce its next Head Football Coach.
As someone that’s followed LSU for the majority of his life, and even attended graduate school at LSU for one semester, let it be known that there's a unique allure about the LSU program from a person that did not grow up on the bayou. The culture is intriguing, the food is out of this world, and there are many different people that one will meet that could not be nicer. Oh, the football program can be fantastic. Let’s not forget that fact.
LSU is a special place. With that, it’s also a difficult place for someone that’s not specifically from Louisiana or nearby to adjust to from a day-to-day perspective, and that’s why rating the LSU job is incredibly difficult.
Here are a few things to know about the value of the LSU job from someone that’s a true diehard college football fan, as a person that’s attended LSU as an out of state student, and a recruiting analyst that’s been blessed to discuss the LSU head coaching job and many college coaches, fans, and members of the media, face-to-face.
Most Attractive Aspect Would be the Recruiting Base
Growing up and watching the Tigers play on ESPN or CBS or whatever television network they played on that Saturday, it was just stunning to see the announcers talk about the LSU lineup and backups and keep hearing that each player for the Tigers came from Louisiana. It's a mid-sized state, but the talent goes far beyond the size and population that Louisiana is represented by.
At the beginning of the 2021 NFL season, the NFL announced which states produced the most NFL players. Florida led the way with 192 players on opening-day NFL rosters, while Louisiana came in at No. 6 with 68. Here’s the difference.
Florida’s population is roughly 22 million people, while Louisiana’s population is just under 5 million people. Since Florida has about 4.4 times as many people, that translates to saying that Louisiana would be sitting at 299 NFL players if the two states were the same in population. Two advantages for Louisiana and LSU from this perspective.
It’s easier to recruit Louisiana because it’s smaller than Florida, and quite frankly LSU dominates the state’s recruiting. It’s not like the University of Louisiana or Tulane take recruits from LSU, while the University of Florida has to battle not only in-state programs like Florida State, Miami and UCF, the prospects are no place near as loyal either. Over half the top prospects in Florida leave the Sunshine State.
Therefore, the LSU job is just incredibly impressive from what it can land talent-wise in its own backyard. No other state holds this type of talent ratio and also has a single SEC and/or combination of SEC and ACC programs inside its borders. That’s just a great opportunity for the right person to be the LSU Head Coach.
If you want to win big, go play the best and earn that moniker as the best. LSU plays in the SEC West, and it’s routinely considered to be the toughest division in all of college football. Most head coaches prefer to make their mark by earning it.
From meeting coaches across the country, many of them have pretty big egos. They also want to prove how good they are beyond what they believe about themselves. LSU provides the opportunity for a coach to show off his coaching acumen in front of the world, and that’s going to open some eyeballs from college and possibly professional coaches as well.
The LSU Fanbase
The LSU faithful are fantastic; diehards. Having 250,000 people on campus for a LSU home game to tailgate and support the Tigers is incredible. That’s life in Baton Rouge during any given home football game day.
There’s no question that college coaches are well aware of this phenomenon. It’s been well discussed many times with your’s truly involved in the conversation. How could the incredibly loyal LSU fans not come up as a positive for LSU when the best coaching jobs are brought up?
One could argue that LSU has the most loyal fans in college football. The Tigers’ faithful need to at least be in the discussion. That’s also a double-edged sword.
LSU Fans Provide Good and Bad
As noted in the early portion, the fans are incredible, but the expectations are enormous. Further, it’s really more about the culture. There’s no place on earth like Baton Rouge and Southern Louisiana as a whole. With it, there are many people that simply do not like to live in or near Baton Rouge.
It’s a matter of cultural fit.
A close friend once mentioned that LSU would be hard to adjust to, and he was proven correct. That’s why graduate school was finished elsewhere, and it’s why some recent LSU assistant coaching possibilities decided to go to different locations as well, much to LSU fans’ dismay.
We cannot all like the same things, at least not in the sense of everyday life. To be the LSU Head Football Coach, one needs to truly understand the culture of LSU to make it work for more than just a few seasons. This is the biggest drawback for the job.
Unless LSU hires University of Louisiana Head Coach Billy Napier, who’s not even a true Louisiana person, there probably is not a good hire that crosses coaching experience and true Louisiana ties.
Forget Jimbo Fisher as well. Texas A&M has far deeper pockets than LSU anyway. That’s big-time oil money backing his 75 million dollar contract. LSU is not spending like Aggies can as of today.
Thus, finding a good fit becomes even harder than normal. There are two other areas of negativity to discuss, and each are important.
Probation and Title IX Concerns
There’s no telling with the NCAA when it comes to infractions. LSU was hit with some recent recruiting violations, but the final outcome could shift in time. That’s a situation that potential coaching hires will not take lightly. Unfortunately, there’s nothing LSU can do about that now, and it’s also only one of the two ugly issues.
The problems with possible Title IX concerns has been a hot topic for many scouts and coaches, albeit behind closed doors, for quite some time. If there was ever a true unknown, it’s LSU’s possible down-the-road issues with Title IX infractions.
It’s such a murky area to go into, and so distasteful, just let it be known that more than a few coaches who are very turned off with what’s been reported to date. Fair or not, perception matters. LSU took a major public relations hit because of what may or may not have happened and how it relates to Title IX.
The LSU Head Coaching position is an incredible opportunity. It’s not for everyone, but it can be a dream job. Because of all the unusual circumstances going on in and around LSU right now, however, LSU fans need to curb their expectations and realize that a so-called big-time hire could be next to impossible.
Even during a perfect timing scenario, the LSU job may not be the right fit for a coach that LSU believes should represent the purple and gold. It’s a guessing game. Will the Tigers find the right match? Possibly, but possibly not.
Just know that the LSU job is not valued the same way by many people, and that’s just a fact. It’s also a job that’s so ripe with opportunity that even an above average coach could help propel LSU into the College Football Playoffs in just two or three years from now. All that bayou talent will still be here for the next LSU Head Coach.