Whitley: Gators need to end LSU's coaching misery

David Whitley
The Gainesville Sun
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BATON ROUGE, La. – It goes without saying that Florida needs a win Saturday. What nobody is saying around here, at least publicly, is how LSU really needs a loss.

Fans wearing purple and gold at Tiger Stadium will not be yelling, “Go Gators!” They’ll be trying to muster enough noise to disrupt Florida’s snap count, not exactly a tough chore of late.

They want to win, but they know it would only be a sugar high. The Tigers have fallen, and they can’t even start to get up with a coaching crisis weighing them down.

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Ed Orgeron has been Dead Man Coaching since losing to Auburn two weeks ago. His firing is self-evident, a fait accompli, a done deal in every way except the official announcement.

The sooner it’s made, the better for all concerned. So, what’s the holdup?

Orgeron has a $17 million buyout, but keeping him around would bankrupt the program of support, stability and enthusiasm. LSU hasn’t been reluctant to pull triggers in the past. It fired Les Miles four games into the 2016 season, a move that ushered in an era that’s been remarkable for its highs and lows.

Orgeron went from interim coach to Louisiana legend. The Tigers had a glorious run to the 2019 national championship, then everything went poof!

This is where the Gators come in. They are an 11-point favorite, which is almost unheard of for a visiting team at Tiger Stadium.

Injuries have wiped out what little hope LSU had to salvage this season. If the Gators play like they can, Orgeron might well get pink-slipped before the sun rises Sunday.

That said, LSU isn’t Vanderbilt. The Gators can’t sleep-walk through stretches and turn up the intensity when the mood hits.

Considering how teams have been manhandling LSU’s defense, there’s no good reason Florida’s running game shouldn’t turn into a steamroller. If Orgeron’s job gets smushed in the process, Dan Mullen can live with any regrets.

“I’ve known Ed for a long time. I like Ed,” Mullen said. “A great coach who won a national championship just a couple of years ago there. And he hasn’t forgotten how to coach in that time frame.”

That’s one of the oddities about the Orgeron Experience. Just about everybody likes Ed the Guy. He’s a real-life caricature of a good ol’ Bayou boy who hit it big.

And there’s no doubt Ed the Coach has some great football qualities. He can recruit. Give him a lineup with a Heisman Trophy-winning QB and five first-round draft picks, and he can lead it to a 15-0 record and a national championship.

That really did happen, right?

LSU’s top assistants used 2019 as a springboard to bigger things. Orgeron made some bad hires, then he made bad hires to replace the initial bad hires. All this has fed the narrative that Coach Oeaux is a jolly good assistant who’s in over his head with the top job.

Orgeron hasn’t helped his cause with things like his pre-game exchange with a taunting UCLA fan before the season opener.

“Bring your ass on, in your sissy blue shirt,” Orgeron shot back.

Naturally, it was caught on video and went rival, propelled by the Sissy Blue Shirts winning 38-27. If losing to a mediocre Auburn at Tiger Stadium weren't the final nail, last week’s 42-21 beatdown at Kentucky surely was.

“They out-physicaled us on our defensive line,” Orgeron said.

That's a sacrilege at LSU, which dropped to 8-8 since winning the national title. Considering all the resources a coach at LSU has, that’s a death sentence.

“I understand this is not the LSU standard of performance. I get it totally,” Orgeron said. “I know exactly where I’m at.”

Then he should know it’s time to start pondering how to invest that $17 million buyout. It’s time for fans to get excited over who’ll be coaching in 2022.

James Franklin? Luke Fickell? Joe Brady? Jon Gruden?

Whoever it is, we know it won’t be Orgeron. All LSU needs now is for the Gators to finish him off.

At this point, it would be a mercy killing.

— David Whitley is The Gainesville Sun's sports columnist. Contact him at dwhitley@gannett.com. And follow him on Twitter: @DavidEWhitley

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