Whether Matt Canada is LSU’s offensive coordinator next season could depend on the head coaching carousel.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron expects Canada to pursue potential head coaching vacancies and he “hopes” his assistant lands a head gig this cycle, he said after the Tigers’ 45-21 win over Texas A&M on Saturday night.
Orgeron addressed the future of his offensive coordinator, even mentioning a potential interim replacement for Canada, presumably, if he were to leave between now and the Tigers’ bowl game.
“Everybody wants to be a head coach. I hope he gets the opportunity to get it,” Orgeron said.
Asked if he’d continue using Canada’s scheme if he left, the coach said, “It all depends. I have in mind what we want on offense also. I’ve been at some pretty good schools, pretty good offenses. If people leave, we have guys like (tight ends coach) Steve Ensminger who I’d highly consider. Done a great job for us last year. Those things got to happen in the near future.”
If Saturday night’s game with LSU was his last as Texas A&M’s head football coach, Kevin Sumlin certainly didn't act like it.
Danny Etling’s trip down the Tiger Walk on Saturday evening was not normal.
Canada is in the first of a three-year contract he signed last December paying him $1.5 million a year. Canada’s affinity to be a head coach is somewhat known. He interviewed for the head job at East Carolina in December of 2015 and was considered a finalist for a gig that then-Duke offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery landed.
Canada would likely to a pay cut to move to a mid-major type head job. For example, Montgomery makes $1.2 million a year, $300,000 less than Canada.
This year’s coaching carousel could be a busy one. As many as six jobs in the Southeastern Conference alone could open, causing a domino effect throughout the land.
Also, the relationship between Orgeron and Canada is uncertain. A disconnect grew earlier this season. The head coach admitted to dabbling in Canada’s offense, putting a stop to the coordinator’s patented presnap motions and shifts ahead of the game against Troy. LSU ran the tweaked offense in the first half against the Trojans, failing to score a point, before restarting the presnap movement in the second half. The Tigers lost 24-21, a defeat that sparked a wave of meetings at the LSU football operations center the following Sunday and Monday.
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Athletic director Joe Alleva met with Orgeron and both coordinators, Canada and Dave Aranda, in a gathering that got them “all on the same page,” Orgeron said that week.
LSU’s offense finished the regular season ranked 54th in total offense, 84th in passing, 30th in rushing and 71st in scoring among 125 FBS teams nationally. Canada's group was without a banged-up running back Derrius Guice for part of the season and played with two true freshmen on the offensive line.
There were times Saturday night when you had to wonder whether the LSU Tigers learned anything about the fragility of a 20-0 lead.