Ed Orgeron is on the hot seat, but just how bad can it get for LSU football?
Just how hot is the seat under LSU coach Ed Orgeron?
That's the storyline the Tigers had hoped to avoid this season, but it's the storyline they face after a 38-27 loss to UCLA on Saturday.
LSU got whipped in the trenches, Max Johnson played flustered, a coordinator change didn't solve LSU's defense, and the Tigers need more playmakers than just Kayshon Boutte on offense.
LSU didn't play with a lot of fire, either, and now Orgeron's long-term future with the program is being questioned just 18 months after leading the Tigers to a national championship behind Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow.
On this edition of "SEC Football Unfiltered," a podcast from the USA TODAY Network, hosts Blake Toppmeyer and John Adams recap LSU's disappointing opener and review Orgeron's standing.
Asked to rate Orgeron's hot-seat meter, Adams describes it as: Getting pretty hot.
Part of Orgeron's problem, Toppmeyer says, is that LSU athletics director Scott Woodward is not the man who hired Orgeron. And you never want to be a struggling coach working for a different boss than the one who hired you.
Add in an offseason full of the wrong type of headlines – Orgeron is among the defendants in a Title IX lawsuit regarding LSU's mishandling of sexual assault allegations – and LSU's head man is on shaky ground.
If you have a glass half-full outlook for LSU's season, you can argue that UCLA was a tough opponent, and LSU faced unusual circumstances. The Tigers traveled to Houston to practice last week while Hurricane Ida brought destruction to Louisiana, before playing a road opener.
But if your glass is half empty, you see a team with a lot of warts and a season that can go sideways in a hurry. After playing McNeese State this week, LSU will face Central Michigan (the Chippewas hung tough against Missouri last week), Mississippi State (the Bulldogs beat LSU last season) and Auburn (the Tigers demolished Akron in Week 1).
This could unravel for Orgeron in a hurry. A 7-5 or 6-6 season hardly seems out of the question.
Adams compares Orgeron's situation to that of former Auburn coach Gene Chizik, who was fired two seasons after winning a national championship.
Chizik wasn't the same coach after the departures of quarterback Cam Newton and offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, and the same can be said for Orgeron after the exits of Burrow and former offensive assistant Joe Brady.
Toppmeyer and Adams also weigh in on Alabama, with each saying that they believe as much as ever that Alabama will win the SEC championship despite Georgia's impressive defensive showing in a victory over Clemson. Alabama displayed continued dominance on both sides of the ball in routing Miami.
Toppmeyer believes Alabama and Georgia each are in good standing for the College Football Playoff, regardless of which team would win a potential meeting in the conference championship.
And they preview their game of the week: Missouri at Kentucky, a pivotal game for the SEC East pecking order. Will Levis' strong debut as UK's quarterback has Adams liking the Wildcats, while Toppmeyer has touted Missouri's bona fides for months.
Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. John Adams is a senior columnist for the Knoxville News Sentinel. If you enjoy their coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it. You can also subscribe to their podcast, SEC Football Unfiltered. They also host a podcast focused on Tennessee football, The Volunteer State.