The 2021 college football training cycle has its second big shot in the arm now that Ed Orgeron is out at LSU. It’s no secret in the industry that LSU is expected to turn a corner in any attempt to replace Orgeron 21 months after one of the most impressive title races in the history of the sport.
“Everybody’s fair game,” says an industry source. Illustrated Sports. “No coach is too big for his courtship, except Nick Saban or Kirby Smart.”
If you thought the latest coach search had twists and turns regarding Tom Herman and Jimbo Fisher before the school came to Orgeron, you may want to buckle up, although the decision makers are different this time. Any search may vary due to the sensitivity of those involved. For LSU, there are two names that you should know.
The first is athletic director Scott Woodward, who has a history of courting big names. He hired Fisher and Chris Petersen in previous stops at Texas A&M and Washington, respectively. Popular head coach names like Ole Miss’s Lane Kiffin, Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell and Oregon ‘s Mario Cristobal could be at stake. There are certainly other coaches to consider, including Billy Napier, who is an hour away in Lafayette. It would all likely come with a purchase that could be to varying degrees acceptable to the school depending on the terms of the deal negotiated between the Tigers and Orgeron, whose purchase is approximately $ 17 million.
Woodward has also searched for controversial names while in Baton Rouge. She recently hired Kim Mulkey to head LSU’s women’s basketball program, a coach who has come under fire for defending Baylor amid the football program’s sexual assault scandal, and courted Pat Casey for the recent opening of the team’s baseball even though Casey kept a player in his Oregon. State team who pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a family member. Attempts to hire someone with such a track record can be difficult at LSU due to the ongoing Title IX investigation in addition to the NCAA and FBI investigations into the men’s basketball program. Those things will be at stake if LSU targets someone like Liberty’s Hugh Freeze or Jacksonville Jaguars coach Urban Meyer.
Another name to consider who could lead the search is William Tate IV, the first black president in LSU history to be hired in 2021. If you get too involved, prominent black coaches like James Franklin of Penn State, Mel Tucker of Michigan State or perhaps Kansas City Chiefs Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy may come to the fore (Franklin and Bieniemy’s respective issues in their own pasts you might as well take that into account, and LSU might see competition from USC if you go after Franklin or any other big name.)
Orgeron is expected to finish the season, but who will be LSU’s next coach could have serious ripple effects across the sport.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.