If anyone was disappointed that Les Miles wasn’t able to make his scheduled appearance at Sunday’s Tiger Tour stop in Metairie, they got over it.
After all, when you’ve got Ed Orgeron, you know it’s going to be a lively night.
And the Tigers’ new defensive line coach didn’t disappoint.
“Who Dat! Who Dat! Who Dat say they gonna beat those Tigers!” “Tiger Bait! Yeah, you right!” Orgeron said when introduced, perhaps mixing Black & Gold with Purple & Gold for the first time as he brought the crowd to its feet before giving a somewhat — for Orgeron — view of the 2015 defense.
Orgeron and running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson were substituting for Miles, who was attending the senior banquet at University High with his son, Manny.
Gymnastics coach D-D Breaux and men’s basketball assistant David Patrick, along with associate athletic director Verge Ausberry, were Sunday’s other speakers.
For Wilson, who was hired by Orgeron for his first college coaching job when Orgeron was the coach at Ole Miss and Wilson was the athletic director for Orleans Parish public schools, knowing he would be following Orgeron on the program would be a challenge.
“He’s got a wonderful personality,” Wilson said. “I listen to him, and I get fired up, too.
“When he hired me back at ‘that other place,’ he trained me on how to be a college coach, and he’s never changed.”
But it was Wilson who got the No. 1 question on LSU fans’ minds — What’s the quarterback situation?
“They improved greatly throughout the spring,” Wilson said of junior Anthony Jennings and sophomore Brandon Harris. “You could see it in their decision making, their placement of the ball and all of the other things that quarterbacks have to do. They got better.
“And contrary to popular belief, we did sign a quarterback (Justin McMillan). But he’s still in the developmental stage, and we do have a scholarship left. So if you know of a good quarterback out there, have him give us a call.”
And if that sounds like the kind of answer Miles might give (perhaps minus the appeal to any fifth-year transfer — like maybe Ohio State’s Braxton Miller), program emcee Gordy Rush said that in his years on the Tiger Tour, Miles has proven to be looser than his assistants.
“Les is looser than everybody,” Rush said. “Les in a setting like this is very different from Les behind the press conference podium.”
And what about when Les isn’t there?
“Sometimes assistants don’t quite know what to say. (Defensive coordinator) Kevin Steele was with us on a couple of stops, and after being with Nick Saban (at Alabama) the last few years, he was really buttoned up.”
And Orgeron was more circumspect than many probably expected, especially at giving the fans red meat concerning any opponent.
It’s a lesson he said he learned from his time at Ole Miss, when anything a head coach might say became instant internet fodder, even in those years before Twitter.
“Oh, you’re got to be careful because it’s not going to stay in the room,” Orgeron said. “The only people I know who don’t care what they say are Steve Spurrier and Lane Kiffin.
“I think they did it deliberately.”
So after his early exhortations, Orgeron gave a heartfelt explanation of what it meant to him to be on the Tigers’ staff after a coaching career that has taken him from Lafourche Parish to seemingly everywhere but LSU.
“I’ve love LSU people, I love the Cajun people, and I love representing you guys,” he said. “It means so much to be to be part of Les Miles’ staff, to represent all of the great players and coaches who have been LSU Tigers through the years.
“I feel like I’m finally home.”