Coach Ed Orgeron, Living His Best Life or a Man in Deep Pain?
This is an opinion piece
College football's most prominent Cajun coach, Ed Orgeron, came to a separation agreement with his employer, Louisiana State University, that will go into effect at the conclusion of the 2021 season.
Orgeron has amassed an underwhelming 9-8 overall record since his historic 15-0 national championship season in 2019. The Tigers have played inconsistent football since the departure of Heisman Trophy winner, Joe Burrow but the substandard results are only a fraction of the reason Orgeron is set to vacate the head coaching position at the end of the year.
Orgeron bungled his response to the Title IX lawsuit that the University is currently facing, downplaying, denying and even lying about his knowledge of and involvement with former running back Derrius Guice and several accusers.
He struggled to lead his team and his program in the summer of 2020 in the wake of George Floyd's death. Orgeron was unable to grasp the pulse of his team and floundered in a situation where strong leadership was required.
These incidents are failings that any follower of sports can see. Any rival can poke fun at the losses, the inappropriate interactions with fans or even his poor assistant coach hires but I contend that Orgeron is just a wounded man with too much money, navigating the hardest time of his life underneath the media's microscope.
Just six weeks after Orgeron won his national championship, the first for the Tigers since 2007, he and his wife of 23-years filed for divorce.
Orgeron was then tasked with not only leading the Tigers program, but also facing a future without his longtime spouse.
For some, divorce can be seen as a blessing, given the context of each specific marriage, however for most, it is a life-altering, soul-crushing, shock-to-the-system kind of change.
The pain of divorce is debilitating and all-encompassing and leaves those to question all aspects of life.
Orgeron's actions over the last 19 months in almost every area of his life hints at a man who is in deep pain. A new six-year, $42 million contract only served as fuel for his off-field adventures as the Bayou's most eligible bachelor.
In the wake of the separation agreement, reports of Orgeron's promiscuities have surfaced. Hitting on an high-ranking LSU official's pregnant wife at a gas station, bringing women around the football facility and his cavalier attitude toward being photographed with woman in precarious positions all show the masses just how reckless the LSU leader had become.
Hiring coaches without interviewing them, allowing girlfriend's children to participate in practice and using unfiltered language with fans of both the Tigers and of rival schools shows how little Orgeron has cared about his fate as the LSU coach.
Orgeron may appear happy on the surface: he's got plenty of money, girlfriends galore and free time soon to be on his plate. But, he appears to be a man searching for happiness that neither football nor women has seemed to fill.
The Cajun coach has been a regular rival of Alabama while leading Ole Miss and LSU amassing a record of 1-8 against the Crimson Tide, but this is no time to dance on his preverbal grave.
This is the time to pray for a man in pain. Orgeron needs a community to rally around him and offer him support so that he doesn't self-destruct further. He's lost focus on his football program while being absorbed in emotional pain and it's cost him his position as LSU's leader.
While it may be easy to cast our own stones or make Orgeron the butt of a quick, cheap joke, instead we should think critically about why he's found himself in this position of anguish disguised as comfortable carelessness. From that perspective, we must offer empathy.
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