Dig Baton Rouge

Column: Just a small town coach, livin’ in the old bayou

Everyone knows that LSU coach Ed Orgeron is a Cajun through-and-through, but many don’t know that sports contributor Casey Gisclair knows the Orgeron family on a different level. Take a peek into Coach O’s world with a few words from Casey.


The sizzling sound of home-grown potatoes popping in fresh grease was briskly in the air on a cold winter day in 2004 at the Orgeron house in Larose.

The woman of the house, Cornelia, was firmly at the controls in the kitchen. To everyone in these parts, she’s “Coco.”

The smell of the potatoes was savory. It could make my mouth water from a block away. It often did. The Orgerons were well-known for being among the most hospitable people in the neighborhood.
It was about 3:15 p.m., which was a little earlier than her normal routine. But Coco’s grandson, Chase Orgeron, and myself had just gotten home from school, and she assumed we’d be hungry.

“Growing boys are always hungry,” Coco said with a smile as she put the now-fried potatoes at the center of the table for Chase and I to enjoy.

They didn’t last long. They were gone within five minutes, and were absolutely delicious.
Across the way, the man of the house, Edward Orgeron Sr., otherwise known as Bebe (pronounced Bay-Bay; French for baby), was deeply focused on the TV screen.

The TV was set on ESPN Classic, and Mr. Bebe was watching an old USC game from the year 2000 – his eyes piercing the screen with intense focus.

He was studying the defensive line play of the Trojans in that game – a unit coached by his son, Ed Orgeron, who, where I’m from, is also known as Bebe.

Yes, Ed Orgeron is from my hometown, and yes, that gives me a great deal of bias in my judgment of his ability to lead the Tigers in the future.

So I won’t even discuss any of that today.

Instead, I’ll just tell you simply: the Orgerons are wonderful, wonderful people, and we here in Cajun Country are honored to say that he’s leading Louisiana State University football into the future.

The past few months have been magical here in Southeast Louisiana, and Cajun Country has truly been smiling with pride for Coach O.

When Les Miles was fired, there was a world of uncertainty, but Orgeron took the baton and has carried it forward into the future.

The final seven games of the LSU football season were fun – the first time in about three or four years that it wasn’t like oral surgery watching the Tigers play.

And we’d like to believe that Orgeron had a large hand in that process, which will now lead into the future as he has been offered the head coaching position on a full-time basis.
Coach O is an Orgeron, and my experience is that the Orgeron family is made up of good, honest, hard-working people.

Coach O is a Cajun through and through. His gravelly, deep voice leaves no doubt where he comes from. His hospitality is much the same, and it’s learned from Coco.

In 2014, Orgeron took a year off from coaching. On Saturdays, he’d often prepare a feast – gumbos, jambalayas, fried fish – the works. He’d enjoy it with friends, family and guests while watching college football games taking place around the country.

Once back at LSU, Coach O used that hospitality and personality to help the team – both on and off the field.

As an on-field coach, Orgeron is a quality motivator who always seems to find a way to get that little bit of extra juice out of his players.

Off the field, he’s well-known as being one of the best recruiters in the country, if not one of the best recruiters in the storied history of the sport.

He’s had his ups, and he’s had his downs – just like anyone else.

But for folks down here in these parts, we support Coach O, and we root for him whole-heartedly as he approaches his future in purple and gold.

Nothing makes us happier than seeing ol’ Bebe lead LSU out of the tunnel and onto the field for a game.

Nothing gives me more pride than knowing that LSU’s coach grew up rolling around in the same grass that I did, eating the same things I did and visiting the same people I did.

He’s a Louisiana man through and through, and no one will care more about this job than he will.
And for folks out here in the bayous, that passion makes us awfully proud.

Photo by Sean Gasser. Illustration by Gavin Michelli.


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