I can remember a simpler time in my adolescence when browsing “Video Movie World” in Vidalia was the highlight of my week.
Sometimes in the summer I got to go multiple times a week, and you can bet your bottom dollar, I scavenged through the selection to see what new movie I could get my hands on. I thought about one of those times specifically last week.
You see, there was this one time I saw a VHS tape that had Arnold Schwarzenegger on it entitled “End of Days.” This was the most intense cover I had ever seen. It was dark red and portrayed apocalyptic times, and as a 9-year-old boy, I needed to see it. Unfortunately, the parents weren’t sold on letting their young son watch that R-rated flick, so the “End of Days” was left up to my small imagination until a few years later when I was old enough to let that film disappoint me.
A lesson was learned that day, my friends. Sometimes things are better left to the imagination. Somehow my ideas were grander than Hollywood.
Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but make that correlation last week with Ed Orgeron and LSU. The end of days for Orgeron so soon? Surely something catastrophic would serve as Coach O’s impending doom, no?
Just as “End of Days” fell flat, the beginning of the presumed end for Orgeron feels, well, anticlimactic.
If Orgeron loses his job it’ll be due to poor clock management, underdeveloped offensive line, inefficient run game, a mind-bending struggle to get the play call to the quarterback in a timely fashion and an inability play fundamentally sound for four quarters. And before anyone raises a finger to type up an email, I understand all of the off-the-field activity didn’t help his cause. And that’s what ultimately loosened the reins. But you know as well as I do — if Orgeron would have won big game and pieced together a 9-3 season, he survives an offseason that’s been riddled with heinous allegations, such as sexual misconduct.
That’s the nature of the beast sadly. So the troubles off the field compounded with the surprising struggles on the field have now led us to this.
And it took quite the winding road to get us here. After Joe Burrow left the state to pursue the NFL, Orgeron was darn near the most popular Louisiana resident. Now he’s on the hottest seat in college football.
How did this experiment fall apart so quickly? Well, you can simplify everything on the field to the ingredients that made the Orgeron hire great at the time. And before we go any further, this isn’t revisionist history. As far as the results on the field go, that hire remains great in every sense. But it was great at the time through the 2019 season because Orgeron is one of the greatest recruiters in all of college football, and he had two of the best assistants in football surrounding him.
Once Joe Brady (passing game coordinator), Steve Ensminger (offensive coordinator) and Dave Aranda (defensive coordinator) exited the program, everything hinged on their replacement hires.
Orgeron is a phenomenal motivator, but X’s and O’s aren’t his bread and butter. So when he turned to two inexperienced coordinators ahead of the 2021 college football season, he didn’t do himself any favors.
Going into the Kentucky game, everyone was critical of young offensive coordinator Jake Peetz, but following a defensive performance that allowed 311 rushing yards in a 42-21 loss, defensive coordinator Daronte Jones isn’t getting any passes either.
With that defeat, Orgeron is now 8-8 since the 2019 national championship season, and we can all see the walls closing in.
You know what that performance in Lexington reminded me of? There was an old cartoon made back in the 1940s called “Gabby Gabby Goes Fishing.” My 3-year-old daughter watched this recently on YouTube, where a boy fisherman tried to manually plug holes in his sinking boat when another hole would arise. Scrambling to try and plug one hole, he left another unattended, and the boat took on water.
That’s the 2021 LSU football season in a nutshell. When one problem is seemingly solved (LSU had a 147-yard rushing performance out of Tyrion Davis-Price), another arises (Max Johnson completed just 22-of-38 passes for less than 250 yards). And now two of LSU's best players are injured (Kayshon Boutte and Ail Gaye).
Unlike my parents with the “End of Days,” I let my daughter watch that cartoon in the boat. One day she’ll thank me for sparring her from seeing the first half of LSU’s 2021 season.