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LSU coach Ed Orgeron and Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin could be a match made in coaching turnover heaven – or hell depending on how one feels about both or either of them.
They coached together as assistants at USC from 2001-04, winning national championships in 2003 and ’04. When Kiffin was fired as head coach at USC in 2013 after a 3-2 start, Orgeron was an assistant on his staff and replaced him as interim coach and went 6-2, but did not get the job. Orgeron also coached under Kiffin at Tennessee in 2009 – two years after Orgeron was fired as Ole Miss’ head coach.
When Orgeron became interim coach at LSU in 2016, he tried to hire Kiffin from his offensive coordinator post at Alabama to be his offensive coordinator at LSU, but Kiffin became head coach at Florida Atlantic instead. Kiffin and his wife Layla divorced in 2016. Orgeron and his wife Kelly divorced in 2020. They each have three children.
Could Kiffin hire Orgeron to his staff at Ole Miss, where Orgeron was head coach from 2005-07? Or would Kiffin hire Orgeron to his staff at LSU, should Kiffin replace Orgeron at LSU?
The last two scenarios would be strange. Meanwhile, LSU (4-3, 2-2 SEC) plays at No. 12 Ole Miss (5-1, 2-1 SEC) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday on CBS after LSU’s firing of Orgeron last week went public on Sunday.
“Normally, I would’ve called him, but with us playing him, it was a little strange,” Kiffin said Wednesday on the SEC teleconference.
The two did text. It will be the second meeting between Orgeron and Kiffin as head coaches. Orgeron won last year when his Tigers defeated Ole Miss 53-48 in Tiger Stadium to finish 5-5 — LSU’s first non-winning season since 1999, which led to Orgeron’s firing.
After Kiffin heaped praise on Orgeron as a coach, he was asked whether he would consider hiring him.
“We’re just trying to win the game this week,” he said.
Orgeron was retained from USC coach Paul Hackett’s staff as defensive line coach and was made recruiting coordinator when Pete Carroll took over the Trojans following the 2000 season. Carroll hired Kiffin from a quality control assistant post with the Jacksonville Jaguars to be his tight ends coach.
“I learned a ton from him in recruiting,” Kiffin said of Orgeron. “Just watched him. To have Pete Carroll as the head coach and Ed Orgeron as your recruiting coordinator was unbelievable to learn from. I was in a position to hire him a couple times. He’s just phenomenal at what he does.”
Kiffin, 46, marveled at the energy of Orgeron, 60, when they were at USC in the early days.
“He can bench press a lot more, I know that,” Kiffin said when asked how far Orgeron could toss a playbook, which Kiffin has done after his offense scores. “He always said, ‘No matter how old I get, man, I’m always going to be able to put up three plates – 315 pounds – no matter what.’ I loved having him as an assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator.”
If Kiffin was dragging, Orgeron was the pick-me up, particularly after Orgeron’s favorite drink at the time — Red Bull.
“We all aren’t perfect every day and full of energy,” he said. “To have him on one of those days to pick me up and say, ‘Let’s go.’ And we’d go be on five airplanes in one day going to different homes up and down all over the country recruiting. So, he’s a phenomenal motivator.”
Orgeron has said he will take a year off before possibly returning to coaching.
“I’ll see,” he said. “I’m open minded right now, but I do need to take a year off. Want to spend some time with my children.”