LSU football coach Ed Orgeron will not return in 2022, two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed Sunday to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser, which is part of the USA TODAY Network. They spoke on condition of anonymity as the move had not been officially announced.
It signals the eventual end of a tenure highlighted by one of the most dominant seasons in SEC and Football Bowl Subdivision history, but ultimately doomed by a series of problems on and off the field.
News of Orgeron’s departure was first reported on Sunday by Sports Illustrated. It comes a day after LSU upset Florida to move to 4-3 in aggregate and 2-2 in the SEC game.
Orgeron will owe a buyout of nearly $ 17.15 million, under the terms of his contract, which explicitly states that he has no obligation to mitigate that amount by seeking other employment. The total represents 70% of the annual base compensation that Orgeron was to receive during the remainder of the transaction.
Last year Auburn, another school in the SEC’s Western Division, fired Gus Malzahn and owed him nearly $ 21.5 million.
Promoted to interim coach at the start of the 2016 season, Orgeron moved up 49-17 at LSU, with an SEC championship and a historic national championship. Quarterbacked by Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, the 2019 team went 15-0, set dozens of school records, and topped Oklahoma and Clemson in the college football playoffs.
But the Tigers had struggled since, with a 5-5 rating in 2020 raising questions about Orgeron’s job security and hiring decisions. After catching lightning in a bottle with 2019 offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who left that winter for the NFL, Orgeron hired former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and watched the defense crater in the one of the worst performances in the history of the program.
This year’s team was ranked # 13 in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches preseason poll and considered one of the top threats to Alabama in the SEC. Instead, more offensive struggles resulted in losses to UCLA, Auburn and the Wildcats.
The Orgeron program at LSU has come under scrutiny for cases of sexual misconduct and dating violence involving at least nine players, according to records reviewed by USA TODAY Sports.
An amended Title IX lawsuit filed in June added Orgeron as a defendant for failing to report a rape allegation made against former running back Derrius Guice. The alleged victim then went out with another football player, who spoke to Orgeron about the alleged assault.
“(Orgeron) said,” Everyone’s girlfriend is sleeping with other people, “the former player told USA TODAY Sports.
His mid-season dismissal represents the latest turning point in a career full of drama and intrigue. Fired as the head coach of Ole Miss in 2007 after three unsuccessful seasons, Orgeron was also the interim coach of Southern California in 2013.
He was working at LSU under a contract renegotiated after the national championship season and signed in April 2020. It was to last until December 31, 2025. In addition to paying Orgeron $ 6 million per year in base salary , the deal included a loan agreement under which the Tiger Athletic Foundation, LSU’s athletic fundraising group, agreed to pay $ 5 million in premiums on a life insurance policy designed to provide Orgeron with significant retirement income.
Payments were to be made in installments of $ 2.5 million in each of the first two years of the agreement. The timing of Orgeron’s layoff could save the foundation a prorated portion of the second payment – just under $ 600,000.
Contribution: Steve Berkowitz
Follow academic journalist Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg