LSU Team News

Ed Orgeron above Nick Saban? Coach O’s debut season among school’s best

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

When the dust finally settles, Ed Orgeron and LSU are looking at a solid season – maybe one of the school’s best debut campaigns in history.

That’s not what Tiger fans expected two months ago after LSU lost at home to Troy after being thrashed by Mississippi State.

But at 8-3, with Texas A&M and a bowl game still to come, Orgeron is on the verge of outperforming most of his predecessors – yes, even Nick Saban – in first-year performance. Charlie McClendon, Mike Archer and Les Miles are the only Tigers coaches to have debuts that compare favorably to Orgeron.

The future could be even brighter for LSU considering Orgeron’s well-documented recruiting ability and the far-from-settled status of several SEC West rivals (Arkansas, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and perhaps Mississippi State).

Here’s a look at LSU’s other first-year coaches since World War II and how they fared.

2005: Les Miles, 11-2
What happened: Despite an early loss to Tennessee, which dented the Tigers’ national title hopes, an SEC West title and a Peach Bowl victory highlighted an all-around excellent first season for Miles. With JaMarcus Russell at quarterback, and Kyle Williams and Claude Wroten forming an elite pair in the heart of the defensive line, LSU beat five schools ranked in the top 20 at the time (Arizona State, Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Miami).

2000: Nick Saban, 8-4
What happened: Ouch. A home loss to UAB within the first month was no indication of Saban’s future success in Baton Rouge. Fortunately for everyone involved, the Tigers didn’t give up on Saban despite the embarrassing September 23 setback. The unranked Tigers went on to oust three teams then ranked in the top 15: Tennessee, Mississippi State and finally Georgia Tech in the Peach Bowl. Three years later, LSU was the national champion.

1995: Gerry DiNardo, 7-4-1
What happened: Coming in from Vanderbilt, DiNardo initially looked like he would get the program heading in the right direction. The high point came in Week 3 on September 16, when the Tigers edged No. 5 Auburn 12-6 in a dominant defensive performance. Though LSU later lost three games in a four-week span, the Tigers still qualified for the Independence Bowl, where they defeated Michigan State and first-year Spartans coach Nick Saban.

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