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SEC Banter: LSU rapidly falling to bottom of league ranks
10052017 BANTER
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron looks at a replay on the end zone screen during the first half of the game against Mississippi State on Sept. 16 in Starkville, Miss. - photo by Associated Press

On fall Saturdays at LSU’s Tiger Stadium, as the sun sets over the mighty Mississippi River just a few tailgate parties beyond that cathedral to college football, the P.A. announcer belts out the following words:

“Ladies and gentlemen, the sun has found its home in the western sky, and it is now. ...Saturday night in Death Valley!”

The sun indeed found its home in the western sky Saturday night. It has yet to rise again in Baton Rouge.

LSU’s mystifying loss to the Troy Trojans confirmed the Tigers’ spiral into mediocrity, a deep college football abyss from which it will take years to emerge.

It marked the end of LSU’s 49-game home winning streak over non-conference opponents, a streak that began in the early days of Nick Saban’s tenure at the school.

More than a measurable streak, however, it marked the end of an intangible yet much more valuable asset: LSU’s swagger, its identity, its mojo.

The sudden collapse of a once-proud perennial national title contender is at once stunning, embarrassing, breathtaking and sad. Some argue the collapse wasn’t so sudden, the poisonous seeds sowed by Les Miles’ failure to modernize the offense, recruit-quality linemen, or beating Alabama since 2011.

But now what? 

LSU must look to head coach Ed Orgeron, or Coach “O,” as Tiger fans affectionately call the Cajun from Larose, “Looziana,” a place quite literally perched on the bayou.

With less affection, some Tiger fans have now dubbed him — perhaps more accurately — Coach “Uh-Oh.”

Uh-oh is right, as the only thing dead in Death Valley is the LSU football program.

In a bizarre admission following LSU’s loss to Troy, its worst setback of the 21st century, Coach Uh-Oh said he didn’t know the Tigers’ first play call from scrimmage, and by implication didn’t know which LSU running back was starting the game.

SEC Banter checked with a good friend who coaches 8-year-old tackle football, and he confirmed a pee-wee league coach would be fired on the spot for similar gaffes as Uh-Oh committed.

An offense once known for boring, old-fashioned I-fo`rmation sets under Les Miles is today known for, well, nothing (unless you count having no identity as something).  


Defensively, the Tigers’ well-earned reputation for freak athletes stalking the field, imposing their will on the opposition has vanished. Uh-oh.

Even the fiery demeanor and in-your-face bravado of Coach Uh-Oh has left the building. The players seem to have followed suit, as LSU is soft, doesn’t give full effort, and gets physically dominated by the likes of Troy.

Never thought I’d write that.

Which brings us to the most astonishing part of these bad times on the bayou.

Restless Tiger fans have called for Uh-Oh’s ouster. There’s only a $12 million hiccup with that approach.

When LSU offered Ed Orgeron the head coaching job (at the time, he had a 3-21 record as an SEC head coach), LSU athletic director Joe Alleva agreed to a $12 million buyout in 2017 and a $8.5 million buyout in 2018.

In other words, if LSU fires Orgeron this season, it would owe him his annual $3.5 million salary plus $12 million.  Big time uh-oh.

The buyout arrangement is beyond perplexing; it’s downright negligent of the LSU athletic director, a breach of duty owed to the LSU faithful who contribute their hearts, souls, and checkbooks to the cause.

Ed Orgeron would have agreed to coach LSU for pennies. A buyout was totally unnecessary, as Orgeron had no leverage over LSU. What other teams were knocking on his door to hire him?

I genuinely believe Orgeron would’ve accepted any one of the following as a buyout:

  • —A big pot of jambalaya
  • —An air-boat swamp tour
  • —A fully-loaded Ford F-150 pickup
  • —If those didn’t do the trick, a one-bedroom condo in Destin, but not oceanfront. I’m talking Sandpiper Cove with a view of that rinky-dink par-3 course I used to play on spring break.

LSU agreed instead to a $12 million buyout and, as a result, is left with no choice but to hope Ed Orgeron can right the ship.

That endeavor starts 3 p.m. Saturday at Florida, where LSU hasn’t won a day game since 1986. Uh-oh.

Better hope the sun finds its home in the western sky in a hurry. Maybe it will rise the next day in Baton Rouge.

Ben Prevost writes SEC Banter during college football season. He can be reached at