Ed Orgeron has spent the last five years as a coach living in a hotel room.
It’s time to buy a house. Coach O’s staying home.
LSU made a splash Wednesday in hiring recruiting guru and Louisiana native Ed Orgeron as its defensive line coach, fulfilling a dream for the guy mostly known as “O” and handing fans the mouth-watering hire for which they’ve clamored.
“It’s a place I always wanted to coach,” a smiling Orgeron said.
The former Ole Miss coach and longtime Southern California assistant overshadowed a dual news conference Wednesday introducing himself and new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, the ex-Alabama linebackers coach hired Tuesday evening.
Orgeron’s entrance into the program came at the expense of Brick Haley, the defensive line coach at LSU for the previous sixth year. Haley has been reassigned within the athletic department.
Coach Les Miles, when asked Wednesday, said Haley was “currently an intern for us.” There is a strong possibility that Haley could join former defensive coordinator John Chavis at Texas A&M, a source close to Chavis told The Advocate.
Chavis and Haley are good friends, and the Aggies have heavily pursued Haley. Haley, who wanted the defensive coordinator job, recently signed a two-year extension with LSU. His previous contract paid him a salary of $440,000 a year.
Contract figures for Orgeron and Steele were not released, but both have been given multi-year deals. Chavis made $1.3 million last year as the third-highest paid assistant in college football.
Orgeron, known as one of the nation’s most aggressive recruiters, lived in hotels as an assistant coach at Tennessee and then four at Southern California while his family remained in Mandeville.
That’ll change soon.
“Hopefully we can move to Baton Rouge,” he said, “and all my kids can graduate from LSU.”
Orgeron was offered the job at about 5 p.m. Tuesday, Miles said, not long after news broke that Steele accepted the coordinator position. Orgeron already had his Hummer packed, expecting to land a job this season somewhere.
He had been out of coaching and living in Mandeville for the last 13 months after head coach Lane Kiffin’s staff at Southern California was fired after the 2013 season.
The downtime showed him something: “I realized this is the place I wanted to come.”
The 53-year-old wanted to stay close to home. He’s from Galliano, a small bayou town about an hour south of New Orleans. He played on the defensive line at Northwestern State and coaching stops at McNeese State (1985), Nicholls State (1994) and with the New Orleans Saints (2008).
He’s a born and bred Southern Louisiana boy known for his deep Cajun drawl and booming voice, his fiery antics and eccentric personality. He’s a guy who tore off his shirt during the first meeting with his Ole Miss football team in 2005, one who often challenges players to wrestling duels and a dude who loves caffeine.
“He probably drinks a case of Red Bull before 9 a.m.” said Jerrell Powe, Orgeron’s former coach at Ole Miss.
“Red Bull, coffee and pecan pie,” Powe added with a laugh.
Will LSU’s practices be louder with Orgeron roaming the field?
“I would have to say that there could be more noise,” Miles said.
Already, Orgeron is winning the hearts of the LSU faithful. He took a shot at Ole Miss during Wednesday’s news conference. The Rebels fired Orgeron in 2007 after a three-year tenure produced a 10-25 record.
Orgeron said he watched “every game” of LSU’s 2014 season and “cheered every play, especially when they beat Ole Miss.”
There is Steele, too. The 56-year-old replaces his good friend and a guy who suggested he take the job, Chavis.
Steele, a South Carolina native who’s been defensive coordinator at Clemson and Alabama, isn’t expected to make wholesale changes to an LSU defense that finished No. 1 in the SEC this season.
He did suggest that the Tigers need to play both a 3-4 and 4-3 front scheme in the future against the mounting spread offenses in football.
“It won’t just be taking a playbook out, dusting it off and throwing it on and saying this is what we’re doing,” Steele said. “We have to adapt things to the talent on the field, because I promise you this, I cannot tackle.”
Miles said the two hires were not connected, and that they were made because it “was best for LSU.” The hiring ended a two-week long search that began when Chavis bolted for A&M following the Music City Bowl.
“We gave great thought to it. It took a long time, the process,” Miles said. “And we really think these hires are just what we need. We’re a team whose goals are these: To win the (SEC) West, win the SEC, play in the (College Football Playoff) and win the National Championship. These are the kind of guys that are motivated and really have the energy to attain those goals.”
Both coaches have connections to LSU. Steele’s son worked as a graduate assistant just a couple of years ago, and he spent time at the football operations building in the year he was out of coaching in 2012.
Orgeron currently has a son who works in the recruiting department as a student assistant, and he gave recruiting reporter and running backs coach Frank Wilson his start, plucking Wilson from the high school level for his staff at Ole Miss.
Miles has been wanting Steele and Orgeron on his staff for years, the coach said.
Said a smiling Orgeron: “He’s been recruiting me for a while.”
Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter @DellengerAdv.