TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — For the majority of LSU fans, Jan. 9, 2012, isn't a Pick-3 lottery ticket or a birth date; many would argue it's a death date when Alabama thrashed LSU in the National Championship Game at the Superdome.
Now, it's an expiration date.
Nov. 9, 2019, will be remembered as the resurrection of LSU's national championship potential after an eight-year slumber. Head coach Ed Orgeron was smart enough to know how to make it happen, and he took what he learned at each of his 12 previous coaching stops to do so.
Orgeron is featured in The Blind Side recruiting - few do it better - in his first head coaching job at Ole Miss. It felt like asking dignitaries to dissect boudin.
Coach O then found a home coaching the Saints' defensive line for a year before spending a year on Lane Kiffin's staff at Tennessee, then following Kiffin to USC. Five games into Kiffin's fourth year with the Trojans, he was fired and Orgeron was appointed as interim coach. All he did was finish 6-2, but with losses to Notre Dame and UCLA (they know about rivalries out west too...).
All they did was say he wasn't good enough to be the head coach. Steve Sarkisian got the job.
In reality, he didn't fit the Hollywood image. Many feel Ed Orgeron fits in very few places. One is Mandeville, where he took a year off to watch his sons Parker and Cody play football for the Skippers in 2014, after resigning from USC. I bet there were lots of smiles at Theriot Stadium worn on his gruff face.
A month after the prep season ended, he was in Baton Rouge coaching defensive line under Les Miles. The Hat's tenure almost ceased during the final game of 2015, then abruptly didn't. Four games into 2016 after another clock-management catastrophe it did and Orgeron was the best man available on LSU's staff to lead the team during a tumultuous time.
Again, he went 6-2 as interim head coach, before a New Year's Eve bowl win over Louisville. This time he got the job. However, many fans believe LSU's Athletic Department settled on his hiring after being rejected by more glamorous candidates.
Bebe' ain't glamorous and doesn't need to be. He went 9-3 and 10-4 in his first two seasons, but through three decades of coaching football, his smarts taught him that it helps to have help. There's no hubris to be found inside Orgeron. He's learned he can't do it alone.
As a head coach in Baton Rouge, he retained Dave Aranda as a defensive coordinator. Orgeron soon realized Matt Canada was not the right guy for the offense, so he brought former Tiger quarterback Steve Ensminger to fill that spot. When Ensminger drew criticism last season, he brought on former Saints offensive assistant Joe Brady as passing game coordinator.
He has always valued his USC connections like former defensive line coach Pete Jenkins and former Trojan head coach John Robinson who joined the staff this season. He also kept it local, adding former Shaw star Mickey Joseph as wide receivers coach and former LSU players Dennis Johnson and Corey Raymond.
When words leave Ed Orgeron's guttural throat, they're as black as coal, unpolished; they're just natural. While his voice is often misunderstood and even ridiculed, it's authentic, it's all his own, and most importantly it retains strong Louisiana roots.
Doubters, go ahead. Mock him, ridicule him, Ed doesn't care. Hell, you might as well pinch him.
He just won the biggest game of his life, against his school's biggest rival, with the greatest team he's ever coached, at his dream job. No need to ask why he shed tears after the 46-41 victory on Saturday.
LSU is 9-0 and expected to be No. 1 in the upcoming College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday night. Two more wins and LSU would win the SEC West and a date with Georgia on December 7th. Even with a loss there, the Tigers would likely still have a semifinal place in the 4-team playoff.
History will eventually reveal the significance of LSU's win at Alabama on Nov. 9, 2019, and if it leads to eventual championship glory, whether SEC or national or neither. The next step begins with Monday's press conference ahead of a game against, you guessed it, Ole Miss. (1997's matchup proves week-long hangovers exist in this rivalry, a week after upsetting #1 Florida)
For a glorious 36-hour period, however, I'll bet that Coach O's hanging onto an irreplaceable experience in Tuscaloosa, and he's earned every minute of it.