Pete Jenkins has known Ed Orgeron for decades.
He’s seen the fiery Cajun, as an interim coach, lead a slumping squad to a run of victories. It happened in 2013 at Southern Cal, after the Trojans fired Lane Kiffin.
“Ed will be so good for those kids,” said Jenkins, a longtime defensive line coach who’s coming out of retirement to join LSU’s staff. “I’ve seen him do this before. He’s got a way about him. He’s just able to bring them together. I’ve seen it before.”
LSU fired coach Les Miles on Sunday, sending the Tigers staff into shuffling mode. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and assistant director of football operations Dean Dingman were also fired, in swift and severe action by frustrated university leaders.
Orgeron, a 55-year-old Louisiana native and former head coach at Ole Miss, replaces Miles as the Tigers head man. His first challenge comes Saturday night in Tiger Stadium against Missouri (2-2, 0-1 Southeastern).
This is his second shot in such a role. Orgeron, in his second year with LSU, led the Trojans to a 6-2 record after taking over for Kiffin. Under his reign, Southern Cal knocked off No. 5 Stanford and won the Las Vegas Bowl over No. 20 Fresno State.
“At one time, I’m not sure he would have been ready,” said the 75-year-old Jenkins, “but he’s ready to help this football team. I saw him do it at Southern Cal like nobody I’ve seen before.”
Jenkins is joining the staff as defensive line coach, taking on Orgeron’s duties. He declined comment on that news, but a source confirmed it with The Advocate. Jenkins did the same when Orgeron took over for Kiffin, sliding into the role as D-line coach.
Jenkins lives in Baton Rouge but spends March through June traveling the nation meeting with football staffs and advising them on defense, specifically the 3-4, his baby.
Jenkins has a long history with Orgeron. The two are close. He’s also friends with defensive coordinator Dave Aranda. He’s met with the LSU staff since Aranda’s hire in January, providing insight in a consultant role over the spring and summer, he said for a story published in The Advocate in July.
“We have a common denominator,” Orgeron said in the spring when asked about Aranda. “Both he and I studied under Pete Jenkins. We brought Pete in and married some things we’ve done before.”
LSU players received a mass text message Sunday afternoon: Be at the football operations bui…
Jenkins is thought by some as one of the grandfathers of the 3-4. He’s oh-so familiar with LSU.
This will be his third stint with LSU under a fifth different LSU head coach. He served as defensive line coach in the 1980s and again starting in 2000. This time, it comes working under his fiery protégé.
Oregron’s antics began quickly. He brought a giant rope to a team meeting Sunday to announce Miles' departure and his ascension. He used the rope as a team teaching lesson: LSU must all pull together.
“Everybody was pulling on one rope as one team, one heartbeat,” safety Jamal Adams said. “That’s how we win games. When someone’s not doing our job, that’s when losses and mistakes come in.”
Was that happening through the first month of the season? “Definitely,” receiver Travin Dural answered.
Tommy Hodson calls it an athlete’s “selfish instinct.”
The Tigers (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) scored one offensive touchdown in each of their two losses and have not scored in the fourth quarter this season.
“A couple of us might have been looking to the NFL, couple might have been worried about stats," Dural said. "It showed. A couple of guys missed assignments and tried to do too much.”
Jenkins isn’t the only new face in a full-time position.
The Tigers are promoting graduate assistants Eric Mateos to tight ends coach and Dennis Johnson to outside linebackers coach, a source confirmed. Bradley Dale Peveto is solely coaching special teams. He had handled the coaching of the outside linebackers under Miles.
Receivers coach Dameyune Craig is taking on the title of recruiting coordinator, which Orgeron assumed after the departure of Frank Wilson in January. Austin Thomas has been elevated to "general manager" of the LSU football team and personnel director.
The biggest change, though, is the head guy.
Orgeron, briefly an LSU player who eventually transferred to Northwestern State, is in his dream position — the head coach for his state’s flagship program.
“He’s very energetic,” Dural said. “Might have had a couple of conversations with him throughout practice but never really got to know him, but what I’ve seen and known, he’s energetic and has a lot of energy. He knows a lot of football. He’s been in this position before so I expect him to have success.”
The goal under Orgeron remains the same, running back Leonard Fournette said: “Win out. Show everybody, in spite of everything going on, we’re still us.”