Dig Baton Rouge

The Next Era: Who will be LSU’s next head football coach?

The 2016 LSU football season has already been a whirlwind. A pair of disappointing early losses ended the tenure of LSU head coach Les Miles four games into the season, and the Tigers’ defensive line coach Ed Orgeron currently sits as the interim replacement for the remainder of the 2016 campaign. LSU has not hired a coach since January 2005, but already there are plenty of big names on the horizon. Here’s a look at some of the potential candidates to be on the lookout for during the LSU football head-coaching search:

The Frontrunners
Jimbo Fisher – Florida State head coach

Resume: Florida State HC – 2010 – present, FSU OC/QB – 2007-2009, LSU OC/QB 2000-2006; 2013 National Champion

Fisher’s name has been at the top of many Tiger fans’ wish lists even before Miles was fired this season. The seventh year FSU head coach was rumored to be the Mad Hatter’s replacement at the end of last season before Miles was retained. Fisher has amassed impressive resume in Tallahassee, guiding the Seminoles to four consecutive BCS, College Football Playoff and New Year’s Six Bowl appearances from 2012-15, including a national championship in the 2013 season. The former LSU offensive coordinator is known as a quarterback whisperer of sorts, having overseen the development of four first round NFL draft picks, including 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.

Bottom Line: Fisher’s age (51), pedigree and LSU ties make him the ideal candidate to lead the Tigers for the next decade.

Tom Herman – University of Houston head coach
Resume: Houston HC – 2015 – present, Ohio State OC/QB – 2012-2014; 2014 National Champion

The second year Houston coach has become the hottest young name in college football coaching circles after guiding the Cougars to a 13-1 record and a Peach Bowl victory over Fisher’s Seminoles in his first season as a head coach. Prior to his first head-coaching job, Herman served as offensive coordinator for Ohio State (2012-14), and oversaw the Buckeyes’ high-powered offense during their national championship run in the 2014 season. Injuries forced Ohio State to utilize three different quarterbacks in 2014, making Herman’s offensive wizardry even more impressive.

Bottom Line: Critics will point to Herman’s lack of sustained success as a head coach, but the second year coach is not long for Houston. Herman, 41, will have numerous head coaching offers following this season and will soon be the face of a major Power Five football program – potentially LSU.

The Hometown Favorite

Ed Orgeron – Interim LSU head coach

Resume: LSU Interim HC – 2016 – present, LSU DL – 2015 – 2016, Southern California Interim HC – 2013, Ole Miss HC 2005 – 2007, USC Asst. 1998 – 2004

Orgeron, 55, was named the interim head coach of LSU after Miles was fired, following the Tigers’ loss to Auburn in September. With his gravelly, Cajun accent, unmatched enthusiasm and promises of on-field changes, “Bebe” Orgeron has quickly become a fan favorite. The Larose, Louisiana native is the sentimental choice for a fan base eager to see one of their own lead the Tigers back to postseason glory.
LSU is Orgeron’s third stint as a head coach and his second interim gig. Over the years, Orgeron has developed a reputation as a recruiting guru and fierce defensive line coach, but his head-coaching resume is subpar. Orgeron spent a lackluster three years at the helm of Ole Miss, amassing a 10-25 record from 2005-07 before being fired. But it was Orgeron’s 6-2 performance as the interim head coach at the University of Southern California in 2013 that gives Tiger fans hope that maybe Coach O is the right man to permanently lead the LSU football program.

Bottom Line: Much like the LSU football team’s postseason hopes, Orgeron controls his own destiny when it comes to the Tigers’ head coaching job. If Orgeron keeps winning, and miraculously leads the Tigers to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta (and potentially beyond), it would be tough for LSU brass to deny Bebe the head coaching position in Baton Rouge.

The Longshots

Lane Kiffin
Resume: Alabama OC – 2014 – present, USC HC – 2010-2013, Tennessee HC – 2009, Oakland Raiders HC – 2007 – 2009, USC Asst. – 2001 – 2006

The man responsible for rejuvenating Alabama’s offense is in his third season of terrorizing SEC defenses in Tuscaloosa. Despite his youth, Kiffin, 41, already has three (unsuccessful) head coaching stops under his belt. Kiffin is a recruiting ace, and a borderline offensive genius, engineering the prolific Matt Leinert and Reggie Bush led offense at USC in 2005-06, as well as the current Crimson Tide offensive juggernaut. Kiffin is now a Nick Saban disciple, but how much of Saban’s tutelage will translate once Kiffin is at the helm of his own program again? Hiring Kiffin is a high risk, high reward proposition, and some desperate Power Five school will take a chance on the three-time head coach. Poaching Kiffin from Alabama could potentially strengthen LSU football while simultaneously hurting the Tide, but does LSU want to take that risk?

Bottom Line: There’s no denying Kiffin is an offensive mastermind, but some coaches are better served as a member of the supporting cast. Saban disciples don’t always translate to great head coaches, and for every Jimbo Fisher, there’s a Derek Dooley.

Bobby Petrino – University of Louisville head coach

Resume: Louisville HC – 2014 – present, Western Kentucky HC – 2013, Arkansas HC – 2008 – 2011, Atlanta Falcons HC – 2007, Louisville HC – 2003 – 2006

After derailing his coaching career at Arkansas with an ill-fated motorcycle crash and adulterous relationship, Petrino, 55, has reemerged as a sought-after head-coaching candidate in his second stint at Louisville. Petrino’s talent as a head coach is undeniable, and he was on the cusp of leading Arkansas into the upper-echelon of the SEC before his firing in April of 2012, but he’s not leaving Louisville. Since Petrino’s first stint, Louisville has joined the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of the Power Five conferences in college football. The ACC offers an easier path to the College Football Playoff, and Louisville has financially committed to Petrino long term.

Bottom Line: It’s doubtful that Petrino will spurn the school that gave him a second chance after most of the college football world had turned its back on him. Petrino will likely remain at Louisville until he retires.

David Shaw – Stanford head coach
Resume: Stanford HC – 2011 – present, Stanford OC – 2007 – 2010

David Shaw, 44, has amassed an impressive resume in Palo Alto, leading Stanford to four BCS and New Year’s Six Bowls in his first five seasons. Despite his tremendous success, it’s unlikely Shaw leaves Stanford for LSU. Shaw is a West Coast lifer – he was born in San Diego, CA, played football at Stanford and has spent the majority of his coaching career on the West Coast.

Bottom Line: In football cultural fit is nearly as important as coaching acumen. Would Shaw’s success at a prestigious West Coast academic powerhouse translate to the Southeastern Conference? I don’t think we’re going to find out.

Art Briles – Former Baylor head coach

Resume: Baylor HC – 2008 – 2015, Houston HC – 2003 – 2007

Briles transformed Baylor from laughing stock into a national power during his eight seasons in Waco with his signature brand of explosive offense, but LSU should steer clear of the Bears’ former head coach. Baylor fired Briles in May of 2016 as part of the fallout from a massive sexual assault scandal within the university’s football program. The stench from that scandal still permeates throughout college football, rendering Briles extremely undesirable as a head-coaching candidate. Tack on the fact that Briles is already 60, and you have plenty of ammunition against bringing him to Baton Rouge.

Bottom Line: Briles likely will receive another head coaching offer but not from LSU.


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