The moment is nearly here for Ed Orgeron and the LSU Tigers, a moment filled with obstacles that once made it seem like it would never arrive.
Orgeron shared a stage with Clemson coach Dabo Swinney Sunday morning in the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, separated by the College Football Playoff National Championship trophy both their programs are trying to take home.
The coaches were asked to define a dynasty, draw back on experiences that led them here — to essentially shape a personal sense of place in such a pivotal time.
Six years ago, Orgeron was out of coaching, living in Mandeville after he didn't get the full-time job at Southern Cal. Orgeron has said that getting passed over after leading the Trojans to a 6-2 record in 2013 was one of the biggest stings in his 38-year career.
Now, Orgeron has No. 1 LSU (14-0) playing for its fourth national championship in school history. Saturday night, the Larose native accepted the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award — one of three such honors this season for Orgeron.
Two rows into the crowd sat Orgeron's longtime mentor, USC booster Brian Kennedy. Orgeron said for two years straight, he used to call Kennedy at 6 a.m. every morning about football, his life and his future.
"Ed, don't write the script," Kennedy once told him. "You'll shortchange yourself."
We talked to six national media members here in New Orleans covering Monday’s CFP National Championship Game between LSU and Clemson to get th…
The script has brought Orgeron and LSU to the pinnacle of college football, weaving through scenes of suspense and surrealism.
It began with Orgeron's return to Baton Rouge, when former coach Les Miles hired him in 2015 to coach defensive line, something Orgeron said Sunday for which he's "forever grateful."
Orgeron was appointed interim in 2016 upon Miles' firing four games into the season, and the Tigers finished 6-2 — the same record Orgeron's USC team went in his trial run in Los Angeles.
This time, Orgeron was retained, selected amid candidates like Tom Herman — the head coach Orgeron's Tigers would later beat 45-38 to begin their run to the national championship game this season.
Steve Ensminger sat at the podium and solemnly surveyed the reporters he hadn't seen for some time.
But the turning point of Orgeron's tenure, he said Sunday, was when LSU was upset by Troy in 2017.
It's perhaps the low point for the program in recent years, a historic 24-21 upset where Troy bullied Louisiana's premier football team in Tiger Stadium.
"I do believe the loss to Troy was a turning point in our program," Orgeron said. "It helped us realize what we had to get done, what we had to do as a coaching staff, as players. We could never let our hands down. We always have our hands up and ready to prepare for every game."
LSU remarkably rebounded in its next two games that year, beating No. 21 Florida and No. 10 Auburn in consecutive weeks. The Tigers had a stunning comeback to beat Auburn after once trailing 20-0 in the first half.
LSU is 30-5 since that upset loss to Troy.
K’Lavon Chaisson couldn't contain his excitement.
Players like All-American safety Grant Delpit, defensive ends Rashard Lawrence and Glen Logan and wide receivers Derrick Dillon and Stephen Sullivan were all there for the loss to Troy.
And now Orgeron and his Tigers are reaching the end of the script, the denouement that commences Monday night in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
"What a great experience we've had," Orgeron said. "What a great journey for this football team."