LSU and Ed Orgeron have reached “a separation agreement” that will end the Tigers coach’s tenure after the 2021 season.
Orgeron replaced Les Miles in 2016 and compiled a 49-17 record. Orgeron led the Tigers to a national championship in 2019 with a 15-0 record, but the Tigers have had a free-fall the last two seasons with off-the-field scandals, coaching turnover and losses on the field. LSU pulled off a 49-42 upset of No. 20 Florida on Saturday before the Orgeron news broke, as first reported by Sports Illustrated. The report said Orgeron will remain as head coach through the season.
Orgeron is one of the highest-paid coaches in the FBS at $8.7 million in 2021.
The last three LSU coaches — Nick Saban, Miles and Orgeron — won national championships. LSU remains an elite job in the SEC, and it will attract a variety of names, ranging from big-time college coaches to up-and-coming Group of 5 coaches.
Who is the best fit? Sporting News looks at the candidates:
Big-time Power 5 moves
Lane Kiffin, Ole Miss coach
Kiffin is a long-shot of sorts. He worked with Orgeron at USC from 2010-13, and that could make this potential switch more complicated. Kiffin has flipped Ole Miss in two seasons, and he’s evolved from his time at Tennessee and USC. That was after a successful stint as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. Kiffin would have more resources to work with at LSU, but this might not be the right move.
College record: 70-40 (4 schools)
Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M coach
Would Fisher make this move? He won a national championship at Florida State, and he has a monster contract at Texas A&M. Fisher had the Aggies on the outskirts of the CFP conversation last season and they beat No. 1 Alabama 41-38 this season. He was the offensive coordinator at LSU from 2000-06. That’s a long time ago, but he would still be a potential candidate. Current LSU AD Scott Woodward hired Fisher when he was at Texas A&M and gave him a contract with no buyout figure, which adds intrigue.
College record: 113-35 (2 schools)
Mario Cristobal, Oregon coach
Cristobal has led Oregon to back-to-back Pac-12 championships, and the Ducks are in the CFP hunt this season after beating Ohio State in Week 2. Cristobal used the lessons learned from a stint as an Alabama assistant under Nick Saban to become a better head coach, and he emerged as a dynamic recruiter on the West Coast. He could bring that approach to Baton Rouge and be successful.
College record: 56-58 (2 schools)
James Franklin, Penn State coach
Franklin had success in the SEC at Vanderbilt. He’s successfully rebuilt the Penn State program, and he has been a speculative candidate for the USC vacancy. He kept Penn State in the Big Ten championship hunt; winning a conference title in 2016. Of all the Power 5 coaches on this list, Franklin might be the one most willing to entertain a move to LSU.
College record: 89-44 (2 schools)
Urban Meyer, Jaguars head coach
SN played out this scenario for Meyer, who is struggling in first season as a NFL coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Would a Power 5 school be willing to bring Meyer back given the latest off-the-field distractions? He has an .853 winning percentage as a college coach, and the Tigers have a ready-made setup for a quick turnaround.
College record: 187-32 (4 schools)
Bob Stoops, Fox analyst
Stoops, 61, has not coached in the SEC since a three-year stint as Florida’s defensive coordinator from 1996-98. He has been out of college football since 2016, but there is no doubt the track record that produced a 190-48 record at Oklahoma. He won a national championship with a no-nonsense style LSU could use, and it comes down to whether Stoops has that urge to coach.
College record: 190-48 (1 school)
Joe Brady, Panthers offensive coordinator
Brady famously was credited with helping direct LSU’s record-setting offense in 2019 as the Tigers’ passing game coordinator. He’s found success as an NFL assistant and reportedly isn’t enamored with the recruiting aspect of the college game. That’s not a complete disqualifier if he can put together the right staff, and he obviously enjoyed success in Baton Rouge, but it may be tough to pry him away from the NFL.
College record: 0-0
Group of 5 coaches
Billy Napier, Louisiana
Napier might be the best fit for this job. The 42 year old learned from assistant coaching stints at two of the best programs in the FBS at Clemson and Alabama. He’s led Louisiana to back-to-back double-digit win seasons in 2019-20, and the Ragin’ Cajuns are in the hunt for another Sun Belt championship. Napier was reportedly in the hunt for past SEC vacancies the last few seasons. Was Napier simply waiting for the LSU job to open up?
College record: 32-12 (1 school)
Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina
Chadwell, 44, is another up-and-coming coach. He has helped turn Coastal Carolina into an offensive machine in the Sun Belt, and the former East Tennessee State quarterback was successful at Charleston Southern before that. LSU might be too big of a step up, but he will be in the Power 5 soon. This could be an ahead-of-the-curve hire for the Tigers. He was SN’s coach of the year in 2020.
College record: 85-52 (4 schools)
Bill Clark, UAB
Clark, 53, was instrumental in bringing the UAB program back from the dead, and the Blazers are on pace for a fifth straight bowl appearance. Clark has high school coaching experience in Florida, Georgia and Alabama, and he’s won with a player-first approach. Clark was SN’s Coach of the Year in 2018.
College record: 55-28 (2 schools)
Jeff Traylor, UTSA coach
Traylor, 53, is another coach who worked his way up from the high school ranks in Texas to earn this opportunity. He flipped UTSA into a Conference-USA contender in just two seasons, and he has experience as an assistant coach at Texas and Arkansas. Those recruiting ties in places where LSU needs to win high-profile recruiting battles could pay off. It’s not a flashy hire, but is flashy what LSU needs now?
College record: 13-5 (1 school)