On September 24 LSU lost to Auburn in a thrilling football game. If you will remember, LSU scored what would have been a game winning touchdown as time expired. However, after reviewing the play it was determined that LSU did not start the play before time expired and the touchdown was waived off. That allowed Auburn to win the game 18-13, leaving each team with a 2-2 record. The next day LSU fired long time coach Les Miles and named Ed Orgeron interim head coach for the next two months.
Coach Orgeron has made it very clear that he wants the job on a permanent basis. To win the job he has to win games. He did that during the month of October. LSU played three games and beat Missouri, Southern Miss and Ole Miss, games he had to win because he was supposed to win those games. All three games were home games. Missouri is the worst team in the SEC, Southern Miss from C-USA was “built in“ win, and Ole Miss is in last place in the SEC West. Arguably, LSU would have won all of those games with or without Les Miles. The tougher part of the schedule is in November.
LSU started November with a loss to Alabama with a final score of 10-0. A win against Alabama would have certainly been a defining win for Coach Orgeron, but it was not a must win. LSU played well against the top ranked team in the country and displayed all the characteristics of good team. They had a well-organized plan of attack, they played with effort, and they gave themselves a chance to win. Alabama is having a zenith year, and simply playing well in that game is good enough for Coach Orgeron.
However, LSU’s three remaining games against Arkansas, Florida, and Texas A&M are games where Coach Orgeron must demonstrate himself as a capable coach. LSU lives in a dangerous neighborhood, the SEC West. With 2 of the 3 remaining games against West opponents and both of them on the road, and a home game against Florida squeezed in between those games. The November part of the schedule is more indicative of what it is like to coach in the SEC. To be a contender in the SEC you have to find a way to play well and win when you have multiple tough games in consecutive weeks. It is an opportunity to define yourself as one of the best in the nation.
There is very little doubt that Coach Orgeron can recruit and connect to the LSU fan base. However over the course of the next three weeks, he needs to show to the LSU administration that he can successfully prepare a team week in and week out, that his team can put some points on the board, and that he can sustain success over time as a member of the SEC West. If Coach Orgeron wants to be the next head coach at LSU he has to win big in November.
By Chris Coker
Chris Coker is the Director of Continuing Education at the United States Sports Academy. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.