BATON ROUGE — Fired LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada settled contractually with LSU on Friday, and he is expected to receive only about half of the $3 million originally owed to him by his "guaranteed" contract, according to LSU contacts.
"I want to thank Matt for his contribution here at LSU and wish him and his family the best," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said in a release by LSUsports.net, the official website of the LSU athletic department that was unsigned and not emailed out to the usual media recipients.
"We have mutually agreed to part ways and go in a different direction offensively, but are always grateful for the time and effort Matt made here at LSU," Orgeron said.
Canada, who was hired away from the offensive coordinator post at the University of Pittsburgh in December of 2016 by Orgeron for $1.5 million a year for three years, was actually fired by Orgeron late in the 2017 regular season. Settlement negotiations began after the regular season with LSU athletic director Joe Alleva. He remained on through practices for the Citrus Bowl and through the Jan. 1 game, which LSU lost, 21-17, to Notre Dame in the final minutes in Orlando, Florida.
Canada's firing was originally reported on Dec. 27 by the USA Today Network, citing the same aforementioned LSU contacts.
It is unclear why Canada is not receiving the full amount of the remainder of his contract. Canada's agent, Pete Roussel, did not immediately return a call. Negotiations did drag on between Canada and Alleva after the regular season. And Alleva has had legal issues with two LSU coaches who sued him for various monetary and contractual matters after their firings — former women's tennis coach Tony Minnis and former defensive coordinator John Chavis. Alleva counter sued Chavis. None of the cases went to trial and were settled outside of the public eye.
Canada reportedly did not have a great relationship with North Carolina State head coach Dave Doeren, who fired him as offensive coordinator there after the 2015 season. The Wolfpack had had a good season on offense that year, and most around the program did not expect Canada to be fired. Canada had worked under Doeren as offensive coordinator at Northern Illinois in 2011 before getting the job at Wisconsin in 2012. Doeren then hired Canada again at North Carolina State in 2013.
Some have pointed to Canada's constant moves as evidence that he does not get along well with head coaches. LSU was his sixth job in eight years, but a lot of moves are common among assistant football coaches. Orgeron himself had four jobs in eight years from 2008 through 2015 with one year off, and Alabama coach Nick Saban had six assistant positions in eight years from 1976-83.
Canada is seeking another job as an offensive coordinator, and some of his settlement details with LSU are still subject to change.
"Financial details of the agreement will be forthcoming," the LSU release said.
Canada's and Orgeron's relationship began to deteriorate early in the 2017 season after Canada arrived with much fanfare and praise from Orgeron that lasted through the spring and summer. Canada's offense looked bad in a 37-7 loss at Mississippi State. The feud came to a head before, during and after a 24-21 upset loss to 20-point underdog Troy on Sept. 30 as Orgeron tried to change the offense and use more of former interim offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Steve Ensminger's influences. This angered Canada, who yelled at Orgeron at halftime of the Troy game.
Coordinators and head coaches yelling at one another is not uncommon. Former LSU coach Les Miles and then-offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher often did not get along well in Miles' first two seasons at LSU in 2005 and '06 before Fisher left to become the coach in waiting at Florida State.
Alleva held a meeting with Orgeron, Canada and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda on the Monday after the Troy game to try to settle various issues, and it seemed to work as LSU won six of its next seven games with an improving offense. But Orgeron and Canada never got along well again. Canada was even heard yelling that it was not his offense by players at practice.
Orgeron answered a hypothetical question — something media consultants tell coaches not to do — after the regular season finale about what he would do if Canada, who came to LSU as one of the hottest offensive coordinators in the country, left for another job. Orgeron said that he would consider Ensminger to replace him and would not run Canada's offense of unique shifts and motions.
Ensminger, 59, and a former offensive coordinator at Clemson and Texas A&M and a passing game coordinator at Georgia all in the 1990s, is still considered a top candidate to replace Canada.
"We will identify a coach with a wealth of experience who is totally committed to the vision of the program and has the drive to do whatever it takes to see it through," Orgeron said. "We have a lot of talent coming up on offense. We want to put our players in the best possible position to succeed, which means improving our vertical passing game and developing our quarterbacks and receivers to be at their absolute best."
Canada was popular with LSU's players. Tailback Derrius Guice tweeted about Canada Friday night.
"You've been real from the start with me. Couldn't have asked for a better big brother," Guice said.
"As the head coach, you have to make tough decisions," Orgeron said. "I chose to go in a different direction in order to get where I believe we need to be as a program."