LSU football vs. Kentucky mailbag: Why LSU can't replace Ed Orgeron with Urban Meyer

Adam Hunsucker
Lafayette Daily Advertiser

LEXINGTON, Ky. — The questions in this week’s LSU mailbag followed an obvious theme.

Will Ed Orgeron still be the coach when LSU (3-3, 1-2 SEC) hosts Florida (4-2, 2-2) at 11 a.m. next Saturday? Who could replace Orgeron if LSU makes a change? What about Urban Meyer?

No need to belabor the point. Let’s dive into the mailbag.

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Will O be fired on Monday? — Alex

Never say never, especially with this program, but I think Orgeron will coach against Florida on Saturday.

The biggest reason is LSU doesn’t have an interim coaching candidate on the staff. There isn’t a Steve Ensminger or a Bill Johnson to steer the Tigers through a mid-season firing. Orgeron has hinted at Ensminger, LSU’s former offensive coordinator, returning to help the staff on gameday, but it’s hard to picture him coming out of retirement to finish a lame-duck season.

You can make the argument that the current staff is a microcosm of how far LSU has fallen. Only three on-field assistants remain from the 2019 national-championship team, and in Orgeron’s attempts to backfill, LSU has gone through nine total coaches in the past two seasons.

Hi Adam. Good day. Hope all is well. Writing from Malaysia. I’m a big LSU fan having graduated from there in 1999. I was chastised for suggesting that LSU should consider bringing in Urban Meyer as head coach. What do you think? Thanks. — Azlan

First, let’s pause to appreciate the first international question. Now to answer it.

LSU can’t hire a coach with Urban Meyer’s baggage amidst an ugly Title IX investigation. This isn’t the hire athletics director Scott Woodward should risk his reputation on. And it has nothing to do with the recent viral video of a woman dancing on Meyer at restaurant that was not his wife, Shelley.

Meyer is arguably the best college coach of his generation, but also left behind a litany of scandals at Florida and Ohio State. He continued to employ assistant coach Zach Smith at both stops despite multiple accounts of domestic abuse. Ohio State suspended Meyer for three games in 2018 for failing “to take sufficient management action relating to Zach Smith’s conduct.”

At Florida, 31 of Meyer’s players were arrested for multiple reasons, including charges of domestic abuse. 

Woodward won’t be hurting for interested candidates. LSU has all the resources needed to compete at the top of the sport. The past three coaches have all won national championships. Hiring Meyer just reeks of unnecessary desperation.

Is Mario Cristobal on the short list? — Ant Marshall

He should be. In three seasons, Cristobal has transformed Oregon into the best program in the Pac-12. The Ducks are built to win at the line of scrimmage, which wasn’t the case even in the Chip Kelly years, thanks to Cristobal’s dogged recruiting.

Oregon signed Cristobal to a six-year, $27.3 million extension when Auburn came calling last season. His $4.55 million salary is just fourth in the Pac-12, and LSU wouldn’t have any problem paying his $9 million buyout.

The question would be Cristobal’s staff. Oregon offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead’s scheme fits LSU’s skill-position talent, should he opt to return to the SEC. Moorhead was Mississippi State’s coach from 2018-19. Cristobal has connections from his playing days at Miami and on Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama, which should help him form a staff capable of winning recruiting wars in the SEC.

Adam Hunsucker covers LSU for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at ahunsucker@gannett.com or follow him on Twitter @adam_hunsucker. Enjoy Adam’s work?  Consider a digital subscription for unlimited access.