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Where Does LSU Go After Losing Out on Marcus Freeman as Defensive Coordinator

Tigers have some veteran and young options available depending on which route they want to go

LSU did all it could to land its No. 1 option at defensive coordinator but ultimately proximity to family won out as Marcus Freeman elected to stay in the Midwest by accepting the defensive coordinator position at Notre Dame. 

It's been reported that Freeman ideally wants to be a head coach in the near future so for him to want to stay closer to home in Indiana with Notre Dame makes sense.

So now that the defensive coordinator search has moved past option No. 1, where does Ed Orgeron and the LSU program turn next?

The program has already brought in Jake Peetz as offensive coordinator and DJ Mangas as passing game coordinator but the defensive coordinator position is perhaps the most important to hit out of the park from here on out. Hiring Freeman would've been the grand slam hire but now that the program is looking in another direction, there are a few names that come to mind.

Exactly who the program is looking at as candidates remains a mystery but there are a few names that have come off the board in addition to Freeman. Arkansas' defensive coordinator Barry Odom will be staying put while former Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason has accepted the defensive coordinator position at Auburn. 

Mason is replacing former defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, who was LSU's defensive coordinator in 2015 before taking the Auburn job in 2016. Steele could be an option if Orgeron wishes to bring in an older, familiar face to the program. So could Will Muschamp, LSU's former defensive coordinator in the early 2000's under Nick Saban, who was recently fired as South Carolina's head coach. 

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By hiring Peetz and Mangas and showing interest in Freeman, Orgeron and LSU has shown its hand as looking for young, energetic coordinators who are trying to make the climb to the next level of the coaching ladder. There are a few young coordinators out there LSU could show interest in but the question remains if Orgeron will want to entrust the entire defense to a younger coach not named Freeman. 

Mississippi State defensive coordinator Zach Arnett and Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard are just a few of those younger coaches out there LSU could look to that have had success.

Orgeron mentioned wanting to have most of the coaching decisions in place by the time team meetings start up next week but that appears unlikely.

"I'd like to have everybody in place by the time the team comes back," Orgeron said on Off the Bench. "I've just gotta get the right guys in and hopefully these guys we have coming in are the right guys."

It's set to be another long week as the Tigers have just recently welcomed a handful of freshmen to the program, including Maason Smith, Landon Jackson and Garrett Nussmeier. Team meetings start Monday and with no defensive coordinator in place it'll be interesting to hear how those early meetings go. 

"The guys are gonna come in, we start class, I've gotta new staff, gotta put in a new offense, a new defense and then in two weeks we start football school," Orgeron said last week. "We start practicing without pads, we have fourth quarter coming up."