Coach O

15-0.

Jim Rome
January 14, 2020 - 10:02 am
Ed Orgeron

USA Today

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If you want to complain about last night’s game, you can. There are plenty of reasons to, starting with the length. Holy crap, that was a long game. I wasn’t convinced that game was going to end in time for the show this morning. And it wasn’t the best officiating I’ve ever seen either, but it feels like a lot of games come with that warning these days.

However, I’m not here to complain about that. I am here to say this:

LSU 42
Clemson 25

And this: Edward James Orgeron Jr, also known as Coach O, is now known as a national champion. 

The guy who took the field for the national championship game with a cut on his forehead, a cut that he received while punching himself after a practice to get his guys fired up, is the king of college football. And it is awesome.  

Because what he and his team, particularly Joe Burrow, did to Clemson was impressive as hell. What they did to Clemson is what they did to everyone all year long. They are the first team to beat the top four teams in the AP preseason poll in the same season. And they beat them by an average of 21 points. 

Except, last night, it didn’t look like it was going to happen because in the first quarter, Clemson came out like their hair was on fire. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables was coaching his ass off and throwing all sorts of looks at Burrow that had him confused. Isaiah Simmons was everywhere and the Tigers in orange had the Tigers in white on their heels.

There was the Trevor Lawrence run that gave Clemson a 7-0 lead.

And the Tee Higgins reverse that gave Clemson a 17-7 lead.

 

That was a ridiculous run. A guy who simply refused to go down. And for a moment, it looked like Clemson might just run away with that game. For all the hype about LSU’s coaching and Joe Brady, Clemson was coaching circles around them. And that ACC speed looked just a bit faster than that SEC speed. 

But Clemson wasn’t quite able to capitalize as much as you have to capitalize in those situations. Because in between the first two Clemson touchdowns was a td strike from Joe Burrow.

Joe Burrow is going to get his own take, he deserves it after last night, but that right there was a taste of what was the come. Burrow got his feet under him and let it rip. And when he has the chance to let it go, Clemson’s defense, check that, any college defense is in trouble. Serious trouble.

That’s exactly where Clemson found themselves. Stuck between Joe Burrow and LSU’s offense at their best, and their own offense that struggled to convert on third downs. If they weren’t picking up first downs and touchdowns against this LSU offense, you weren’t beating them.

And Clemson wasn’t beating LSU last night. The longer that game went, and did anyone mention that game went long, but the longer that game went, the more and more apparent it was – LSU was the better team. They weren’t just the better team, they were the best team.  

Fell behind 17-7 and then went on a 35-8 run. 

15-0. 15 and Coach O. 

Like I said, Burrow is going to get his own take, but the fact that Coach O is where he is right now, is tremendous.

Because he is someone who has been overlooked, and mocked, and laughed at for years. Don’t come in here now saying you loved Coach O all along and that you always knew he’d win a national title, because just about nobody did. Just about everybody laughed at his accent, made fun of his voice, and tried to do an impression of him. Clowned him for how he looked and how he sounded; don’t act like you didn’t. Because you did. 

So don’t disrespect him or minimize him by making him all about his voice, or punching himself, or yelling at guys to stop making noise during his press conferences. Don’t disrespect him by saying he’s a helluva motivator and energy guy, but not all that much as a coach. Believe this The guy can coach. He can recruit. He can assemble a staff. He can fire up a fanbase. He can do everything you want a head coach to do…he can do all those things on an elite level, but he was this close to never getting that chance again.

There weren’t too many people saying that guy is going to win a national title when he won three SEC games in three seasons at Ole Miss and then got fired. 

You want to say he’s the embodiment of a football coach? There weren’t too many people who hire football coaches who thought that. 

This is a guy who went 6-2 as the interim head coach at USC. He desperately wanted the USC job. He was so proud of that job and loved having it. But USC thought they could do better. 

They were wrong.  Pat Haden was wrong.  Part of the reason why he’s out of a job. 

And not getting that gig left Coach O in a tough spot: “When I didn't get the job at USC I said, `Hey, maybe you'll be an assistant the rest of your life.’”

As he says, it was only a few years ago that he was “Sitting on the sofa at my house. I remember watching SEC games, going, ‘I know I can compete with these guys given the right place.’”

And then he got that right place, but even that right place wasn’t sure he was right. Les Miles brought him in to be the defensive line coach in 2015. Then Coach O was the interim coach in 2016 when Miles was fired. Coach O went, wait for it, 6-2 as the interim that year. And he desperately wanted the job. 

But, wait for it, LSU didn’t give it to him immediately. They thought they could do better. They went after guys who look, act, and sound more like a traditional head coach than Coach O. 

They contacted other guys. And then finally got around to making Ed their guy. Except it wasn’t even clear then that he was their guy. Especially after they lost to Troy, at home, in his first full season. You think anyone was talking Coach O and a national title after that game?

As an assistant coach told SI last night, “We lost to bleeping Troy two years ago. I was there.”

They lost to bleeping Troy two years ago and now they are the bleeping national champions. LSU just capped off one of the greatest seasons in college football history and every part of it was ridiculous. But the fact that this team lost to Troy two years ago and just beat Clemson last night might be the most ridiculous part of all.

And the fact that Coach O is the head coach might be the best part. As he said after the game: “The things that I was doing at Ole Miss I was ridiculed for. Now I punch myself in the jaw and everybody at LSU likes it. So it just depends where you're at.”

 It does depend where you’re at. And right now, he is on top of the college football world, looking down on everyone else and he earned absolutely every bit of it. And you can’t Schtick your way to a national championship. But you can you coach your way to one; and he did. Sure, he’s a helluva personality and character, but he’s a helluva football coach as well. Don’t ever get that twisted.