With Lane Kiffin off the table, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron must make the right move in hiring the next offensive coordinator or it could be a disaster.
When being interviewed to become the full-time head coach at LSU, Ed Orgeron laid out his roadmap for the program. It was a plan that included bringing in a top offensive coordinator in order to revamp the Tigers on that side of the ball.
Orgeron struck out on his first choice in Lane Kiffin, who agreed on Monday to become the new head coach at Florida Atlantic. Now, he must deliver on his promise with someone else.
That person could be current Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Matt Canada, as he will be meeting with Orgeron in the next 24 hours, per reports. The 44-year-old Canada has served as an offensive coordinator for the last 10 seasons, with stops at Indiana, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, and NC State before accepting the Pittsburgh position this past January.
In just one season, Canada led a resurgence of the Panthers’ offense, ranking No. 10 in the nation in scoring offense by averaging 42.3 points per game – including a 76-point outburst in the season finale against Syracuse. The per-game average was an improvement of 14.1 points over what Pittsburgh’s offense posted in 2015.
Behind a strong running game, the Panthers were a big-play offense that routinely threw the ball down the field to wide receivers Jester Weah and Scott Orndoff. Big plays are something that the Tigers have been lacking in recent seasons, with fans growing weary of seeing the talent on the field fail to live up to expectations due to poor execution and being handcuffed by play calling.
Canada, the only offensive coordinator that was a finalist for the Broyles Award, which goes to the nation’s top assistant coach, would take over an offense that has all the key skill players to become a threat, with the exception of one: quarterback. A position that has been mediocre, at best, for LSU in the last several years remains a problem, with neither Brandon Harris or Danny Etling looking like world beaters this past season. Furthermore, LSU’s two quarterback recruits, Lowell Narcisse and Myles Brennan, have backed off their commitments to the Tigers.
If Canada and LSU do not come to a deal, the Tigers have also show interest in Alabama offensive analyst Steve Sarkisian and former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich, who both have experience running highly successful offenses.
Whomever Orgeron decides on will have to be ready to produce, and produce immediately. The hiring of Orgeron from interim to permanent head coach was surprising to some, and could be considered a honeymoon hire after players chanted “Keep Coach O!” in the locker room after the season finale win against Texas A&M. The Tigers, don’t forget, fired a head coach in Les Miles that went 114-34, and won a national championship and two SEC titles in his 11-plus seasons in Baton Rouge. Mediocrity will not be accepted. Neither will anything short of an explosive offense.
In the end, this hire will play a huge role in whether or not Orgeron finally achieves professional success as a head coach or is proven to be a bust. The defense, under coordinator Dave Aranda, is going to be solid, so finally being able to take advantage of that by putting up points will be crucial.
This is the one move where Orgeron cannot afford a mistake.