Arkansas LSU Football

LSU coach Ed Orgeron congratulates running back John Emery Jr. (4), who scored against Arkansas during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

ATLANTA -- As Ed Orgeron answered a question about how his team was readying for the SEC Championship with an altered travel schedule, he made sure to include some Louisiana.  

He started by explaining why they shipped up to Atlanta early: He had to be in town early for media availability and he wanted the team to stick together. But he closed with a with some details that allowed his Louisiana roots to shine through as clear as anything. 

"We had a tremendous meal," Orgeron said, grinning. "We had smothered pork chops, fired chicken, collard greens. The guys loved it. Just like one big family eating together."

The family-style dinner was brought about by the added media title-game media responsibilities set upon the head coaches. Normally the team would've set out on Friday to play the next day. But that travel day was pushed up to Thursday. 

"I was not going to let the team travel today and me not be with them," Orgeron said, adding that they'd be keeping the same routine they'd have had any other week. "So one team, one heartbeat. We travel together." 

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The Louisiana-native is in his third season as LSU's full-time head coach and acknowledged some missteps early on in the process to bring the Tigers back to national prominence.

SEC Championship Football

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron speaks during news conference ahead of Saturday's SEC Championship NCAA college football game against Georgia Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

But this seasons successes are made all the more sweet by what it means for his home state. 

"I love it," Orgeron said of the process that brought the Tigers to the SEC Championship and likely beyond. "I grew up watching LSU. ... Hopefully this is just the beginning." 

And as Orgeron explains it, the next step in that process could begin next week on the recruiting trail with a heavy dose of Louisiana flavor -- and a roux to boot.

With LSU off next week, he'll be heading out for in-home visits to anywhere from 18 to 22 recruits. 

"So that means about 18 to 22 gumbos," Orgeron said, drawing laughter from the media on hand. "It's going to be great. It's kind of a party when I get there. ... We have a party. We eat. We laugh. We joke together. It's just like being part of a big family."

Email Jeff Nowak at jnowak@theadvocate.com

Twitter: @Jeff_Nowak