LAFAYETTE — LSU’s resident Cajun was bathed in applause as he strode into the stage lighting as the last guest on the Tiger Tour’s pit stop in Lafayette Tuesday night at the La Marquise Ballroom.
“Comment ça va, Lafayette?” LSU defensive line coach Ed Orgeron bellowed to the crowd.
It’s French for “How are you?” But Orgeron didn’t bother with a translation when surrounded by his people.
Orgeron was the last of five guest speakers to address the gathering of LSU supporters in Acadiana, the second stop on the tour put on by the Tiger Athletic Foundation. The conversation with emcee Gordy Rush quickly got down to business: Orgeron’s new job, the players newly under his direction, and, most of all, his recruiting efforts.
For Orgeron, the recruiting never stops, and it’s not limited to stud football players. After fulfilling a media obligation before the event, Orgeron opted to “walk around and mingle” with the crowd before taking his seat on the stage as one of the featured speakers.
He was laughing, shaking hands and taking names, showing off the personality that makes him regarded as one of the nation’s preeminent recruiters.
When it came time to put on a show, Orgeron didn’t disappoint.
Plenty of his answers were pretty straightforward.
He said he believes sophomore safety Jamal Adams is poised to open even more eyes than he did his freshman season. He said he’s excited to work under new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, who was not able to show up as originally planned because of an out-of-state recruiting trip. He said LSU will be in a good position whether coach Les Miles chooses Brandon Harris or Anthony Jennings as the starting quarterback.
But he also busted some guts.
When asked about local players, he said about guard and New Iberia native Josh Boutte, “He’s 6-3 and 350-something (pounds) — on a light day. You can walk up behind him and he looks like an ice box. … I know you know what an ice box is. That’s where you keep the frog legs and the alligator at!”
On his preference in defensive linemen, he said: “I like them to have six inches between their eyes and to hate quarterbacks.”
On his mentality at practice, he said he tells his players: “Your butt is grass, I’m the lawnmower.”
On keeping the best players in the state: “I’ve always come to the state recruiting with other (schools’) shirts on. It was hard for me. I believe 99.9 percent of the people born in Louisiana want to play for LSU. I want to keep certain people from crossing that state line.”
The crowd went berserk. Orgeron continued: “And if he does cross that line, guess who’s face is going to be the first one he sees?”
Orgeron got the crowd rolling at the end, but he wasn’t the only one there. He was joined by Tiger Athletic Foundation chairman Richard Perry, LSU Athletic Director and Vice Chancellor Joe Alleva, men’s basketball coach Johnny Jones, and women’s basketball coach Nikki Caldwell.
Much of the talk centered on the seasons LSU’s athletics had, the future in front of them, and considering the crowd, what the funding for facilities has done to make their jobs easier.
But it wasn’t just athletic funding. Alleva took a moment at the end of his speaking time to align himself with LSU president F. King Alexander on the university’s need for funding to stay relevant academically.
The biggest opponent LSU faces is funding for higher education, Alleva said.
Alleva said the state’s current shortfalls in higher education funding hurts athletics just as it does the general student population. Players, just like the rest of the student body, could look elsewhere if the course work available to them isn’t up to par.
Alleva encouraged those in attendance to contact their legislators with their disapproval.
“Our concern is not Alabama or Texas A&M, it’s funding,” Alleva said. “Anyone concerned about higher education should feel the same way.”