From the moment he was asked to take over as interim coach for the LSU football team Sunday afternoon, Ed Orgeron hit the ground running.
That isn’t a surprise, considering the 55-year-old, who has worked at 10 universities and spent one season with the New Orleans Saints, has become well-known for his passion for the game and the energy he puts into it during his 30-year career.
When LSU President F. King Alexander and athletic director Joe Alleva picked Orgeron to take the reins after Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron were fired Sunday, Orgeron quickly started reshaping the staff after making a phone call to his wife, Kelly.
The next call went to 75-year-old Pete Jenkins, a close friend and confidant whose 4½ decades as a defensive line coach in the college ranks and with the Philadelphia Eagles made him an easy target for Orgeron.
“I said, ‘Pete, are you coming?’ ” Orgeron said during his introductory news conference Monday. “He said, ‘When do you want me there?’
“I think the world of the man, and our players are going to love him,” he added. “It’s a great opportunity for all of us, and I’m looking forward to it.”
It was the first of many moves for Orgeron, who assigned several coaches to fill openings on his staff — none bigger than shifting tight ends coach Steve Ensminger to offensive coordinator, a move reported Sunday night along with Jenkins’ return for a third stint at LSU.
On Monday, Orgeron announced the rest of his staff assignments.
Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, who was hired in January, is now associate head coach, and wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig takes over as recruiting coordinator. Both of those positions had been held by Orgeron, who coached the defensive line under Miles since the start of the 2015 season.
“I'm going to lean on him,” Orgeron said of Aranda. “We have ideas we have shared from successful programs. We've been meeting all morning on how to get this thing turned around.”
Orgeron said special teams coordinator/outside linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto will now devote all his time to special teams, and Steve Kragthorpe will no longer coach on the field, although he'll continue in his role as chief of staff.
“We’ve got to get better there,” Orgeron said of special teams. “We’ve got some ideas. … (Peveto) has been working on it all day. You're going to see a new and improved special teams.”
Orgeron said Kragthorpe will serve as a liaison to him and Ensminger with their offensive scheme, specifically with the goal of being more creative and productive with the passing game.
Additionally, Orgeron appointed two graduate assistants to full-time positions. Eric Mateos, who joined the staff this season and worked as an assistant to offensive line coach Jeff Grimes, replaces Ensminger as tight ends coach. Dennis Johnson, who played for the Tigers from 2009-11 and was working with the defensive linemen under Orgeron, will coach outside linebackers.
Mateos was a graduate assistant at Arkansas for three seasons, the maximum allowed at one school under NCAA rules, and was interim offensive line coach in the Razorbacks’ Liberty Bowl win over Kansas State.
Aranda will still work with the inside linebackers, while Grimes, Craig, Jabbar Juluke (running backs), Corey Raymond (defensive backs) and Tommy Moffitt (strength and conditioning) continue in the positions they held under Miles.
Austin Thomas moves in as director of player personnel for Dean Dingman, who also was relieved of his duties Sunday, and local sports radio talk-show host Derek Ponamsky will be a special assistant to the head coach.
Orgeron said he doesn’t expect much to change in his relationship with his staff even though he’ll go from being one of their peers to supervising them.
“There are things I do very well, and there are things that I don't do very well,” Orgeron said. “There are some guys on the staff that can't do what I can do. But you know what? They have strengths that I don't have, and we're going to lean on each other and pull together.”
LSU's new-look football staff
Head coach: Les Miles/Ed Orgeron (interim)
Associate head coach: Ed Orgeron/Dave Aranda
Offensive coordinator: Cam Cameron/Steve Ensminger
Defensive coordinator/inside linebackers: Dave Aranda/Dave Aranda
Special teams coordinator: Bradley Dale Peveto/Bradley Dale Peveto
Recruiting coordinator: Ed Orgeron/Dameyune Craig
Offensive line: Jeff Grimes/Jeff Grimes
Running backs: Jabbar Juluke/Jabbar Juluke
Wide receivers: Dameyune Craig/Dameyune Craig
Tight ends: Steve Ensminger/Eric Mateos
Defensive line: Ed Orgeron/Pete Jenkins
Outside linebackers: Bradley Dale Peveto/Dennis Johnson
Defensive backs: Corey Raymond/Corey Raymond
Strength and conditioning: Tommy Moffitt/Tommy Moffitt
Chief of staff: Steve Kragthorpe/Steve Kragthorpe
Director/player personnel: Dave Dingman/Austin Thomas