Ed Orgeron's first full day as LSU's full-time football coach was a busy one.
He wasted no time tweaking his coaching staff and building a future recruiting class.
Orgeron dismissed special teams coordinator Bradley Dale Peveto in his first significant move as LSU's head coach, and he landed a commitment from Caden Sterns, a Class of 2018 safety from Texas, for his first recruiting victory as the program's full-time leader.
Orgeron is expected to act quickly to replace Peveto. The coach released a statement Sunday about the move.
"We appreciate Bradley Dale and the work he put into the program," Orgeron said in the news release. "However, at this time we have decided to move in a different direction with our special teams."
Peveto, 53, spent the past three seasons on the staff; he was hired by former coach Les Miles as linebackers coach and special teams coordinator after the 2013 season. Peveto was a member of Miles' first staff at LSU, joining in 2005 as special teams coordinator and linebackers coach and leaving after LSU’s defense struggled with him as a co-coordinator in 2008. Peveto, a Beaumont, Texas, native, had a contract that expires in March and paid him $450,000 per year.
LSU’s coverage units, normally a strength, struggled at times over the past three years. When Orgeron took over in an interim role Sept. 25, he took Peveto off coaching outside linebackers, allowing him to focus on special teams. Orgeron promoted graduate assistant Dennis Johnson to coach the outside linebackers.
Sterns, a Class of 2018 safety from Steele High School near San Antonio, announced his commitment to the Tigers on Sunday. He is the No. 5 prospect from Texas for 2018, according to 247Sports.com, and he picked the Tigers over the Longhorns in a coincidentally timed move.
Tom Herman, presumed at one point to be LSU’s top candidate to replace Miles, was hired as Texas' coach Saturday, just hours after LSU athletic director Joe Alleva promoted Orgeron. LSU and Herman, then the coach at Houston, were in “intense talks” earlier this week about a potential deal, a source told The Advocate. They fell through starting Thursday night, when LSU officials contended that Herman’s camp leaked information to spark Texas to come after the coach.
“We knew that Coach O is never going to play games with us,” Alleva said when introducing his new coach Saturday.
Sterns, a 6-foot-1, 173-pounder, is ranked the No. 4 safety prospect in the nation for 2018. He had offers from Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Oklahoma State, among others.
Sterns is the fourth player to issue a non-binding verbal pledge to the program for 2018. Three of those players are defensive backs: Sterns, Scotlandville’s Kelvin Joseph and Miami-Edison’s Nadab Joseph. Somerset (Texas) quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann is the final member of the class.
Sugar Bowl still possible
LSU's 16-10 home loss to Florida on Nov. 19 appeared to end the Tigers' chances for a trip to the Sugar Bowl. But LSU's 54-39 win against Texas A&M on Thanksgiving night and other results from Saturday's rivalry games have kept the Tigers' hopes alive, albeit slim.
The major polls released Sunday reflect that. LSU is No. 21 in both the Associated Press poll and the coaches poll. LSU, unranked in last week's coaches poll, trails No. 18/19 Auburn and No. 15/16 Florida in both polls.
Auburn lost to unbeaten and top-ranked Alabama on Saturday, and then Florida lost to No. 12 Florida State. The new College Football Playoff rankings will be released Tuesday.
For LSU to reach the Sugar Bowl, it would need to be the highest SEC team outside of Alabama in the final CFP rankings — assuming the Crimson Tide (12-0, 8-0) beats Florida in Saturday's SEC title game and advances to the playoff.
The odds aren't in the Tigers' favor. LSU (7-4, 5-3) was not in last week's CFP rankings, and it has losses to Auburn (8-4, 5-3) and the Gators (8-3, 6-2). Even assuming Florida tumbles in the rankings after a lopsided loss to the Crimson Tide, LSU would need to be in front of Auburn to reach the Sugar Bowl.
Other bowl options for LSU include the Citrus, Outback, TaxSlayer, Liberty, Texas, Music City and Belk. Bowl assignments will be announced Sunday.