Ed Orgeron opened his speech to Louisiana high school coaches Tuesday with a thank you — for locking the gates of the Bayou state to out-of-state powerhouse programs.
“We want to thank you for keeping the satellite camps in the state of Louisiana. I mean that. I appreciate that,” the first-year LSU coach said at the LHSCA coaches clinic. “I know a lot of you guys were approached by other teams, a lot of our competitors, and you didn’t let them in. I appreciate that. It means a lot to us. Keep our players in the state of Louisiana.”
Orgeron isn’t dancing around this polarizing subject: He influenced Louisiana small college and high school coaches to bar the proverbial gates in June to keep out Texas, Michigan and other national powers from holding satellite camps here.
And he doesn’t care what you or anyone else thinks about it.
“I thought it was nice for us to all be on the same page,” he smiled, “all of us serving the same purpose and protecting Louisiana.”
Orgeron spent more than an hour Tuesday explaining LSU’s 3-4 defense to hundreds of the state’s high school coaches from the front of a large ballroom at the Crowne Plaza in Baton Rouge. This was a deep X's-and-O's dive from the Tigers head man — from how Dave Aranda’s unit defends the zone read to how it stops the pin-and-pull, from a 4-technique tackle’s shade of an offensive tackle to the name of LSU’s strong safety in its base 3-4 (“Red Hammer”).
“All football,” a smiling Orgeron said afterward.
Football, football, football — and recruiting, too.
"I want to thank everybody for the job you’ve done for us in recruiting," he told the coaches. "The majority of our football players on our team are from your high schools. They’re very well-coached, great young men and helped us win championships at LSU."
Orgeron is never not recruiting, never not thinking of recruiting and never, it seems, not talking about recruiting. It’s his art, his hobby, something he learned under Jimmy Johnson during his days as a graduate assistant at Miami in the late 1980s.
One of the best nuggets of advice he has received in his coaching career is from Johnson: “Recruit good players,” he told Orgeron.
“Worked under him and (then-Miami defensive line coach) Butch Davis,” Orgeron said. “I watched them recruit. The type of players we had, I wanted to be a part of something like that.”
Arden Key’s rehabilitation from shoulder surgery has advanced to the next step.
He’s hoping to build it here in Baton Rouge, or at least maintain it. Each of LSU’s past five signing classes ranked among the top seven nationally. Orgeron’s current class, his first full group as coach, ranks fifth.
He was recruiting Tuesday — recruiting a group of coaches that he knows oh so well and thanking them for their assistance in keeping out two of the nation’s most fabled football programs.
SI.com published two stories, one in May and one in June, suggesting Orgeron had used LSU’s political power in the state to get satellite camps involving Texas and Michigan canceled. The drama went far enough that Hal Mumme, the former Kentucky and Southeastern Louisiana coach, reported Orgeron to the NCAA. LSU’s compliance staff says there were no violations committed.
Mumme, now coach of Division III Belhaven in Mississippi, contends LSU used its power to twice cancel a camp that Belhaven was set to host with Texas and Houston at high schools in Baton Rouge and Hammond.
Orgeron’s response to all of this: Out-of-state coaches should use their allowable six weeks in the spring to evaluate Louisiana prospects.
“You have six weeks to evaluate in April and May,” he said. “We go into every state in the country. Every school in the country that wants to see us, comes to evaluate (Louisiana) guys. Those are the times we use for evaluation.”
John Battle's college career has been extended.
Orgeron is not a proponent of satellite camps and hopes that, at some point, the NCAA passes a rule banning them entirely. All camps should be hosted on campus, he contends.
Satellite camps have been a hot-button topic in college football since Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh began hosting camps two years ago in various parts of the country. The NCAA cracked down on camps this spring, limiting the days coaches can work camps from 30 to 10 and restricting requirements to host satellite camps.
More discussion on camps is likely to come, said Todd Berry, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association and the former coach at Louisiana-Monroe. He was scheduled to meet with NCAA officials at the end of June to evaluate the first year of camps under the new rules.
Meanwhile, Orgeron hopes the coaches in this state will keep the gates locked, funneling their highly touted players to him.
During Tuesday’s speech, he highlighted a play made by former LSU linebacker Kendell Beckwith, a third-round selection in the NFL draft this spring.
“That guy coming downhill is 6-2, 255 and runs a 4.5 40. Any of you, today, have a guy on your team like that, beers on me tonight! Nah, can’t do that,” Orgeron laughed. “But anybody got a guy like that on your team, you let me know, OK?”