When LSU made the move to fire Les Miles during the 2016 season, a now-SEC coach was the name most commonly bandied about as Miles’ replacement with the Tigers.
While current LSU coach Ed Orgeron took over as the interim coach following Miles’ firing on Sept. 25, 2016, there were many folks who thought Orgeron was only going to be a placeholder until the end of the season, when the school found a guy like Jimbo Fisher to take over the program.
On the surface, Fisher to LSU made a lot of sense. He was a former LSU assistant and was the team’s offensive coordinator when the Tigers won the Sugar Bowl over Notre Dame after the 2006 season before moving to Florida State.
But according to former LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, Fisher was never an option. Not even at the end of the 2015 season, when Miles’ grip on his job was tenuous as the Tigers beat Texas A&M 19-7 to cap off a 9-3 regular season.
“I still have a lot of friends in the ACC,” Alleva said. “I talked to them, and after that I didn’t want any part of Jimbo. I would never have hired Jimbo. He was never on my radar. Now, fans and some people in the department wanted him, but I never wanted him.
“I could have made a change [at the end of the 2015 season]. I recommended not to. Because I would have been forced to hire Jimbo. I would rather have had Les. But if I didn’t hire him, the outcry would have been ridiculous. So we had that meeting during the [Texas A&M] game, and I made the recommendation to keep [Miles].”
Alleva also told the Advocate that he believed LSU could have hired Tom Herman after 2016 but that he didn’t want to pay the salary that Herman would have demanded. Herman was finishing up his second season as Houston’s coach and went on to take over at Texas.
Fisher, meanwhile, got a $75 million contract from Texas A&M after the 2017 season. The athletic director who gave him that deal at A&M is a man by the name of Scott Woodward. He succeeded Alleva as LSU’s AD in the spring of 2019 after Alleva retired amidst the wiretapping scandal that had enveloped the basketball team.
Orgeron is 39-9 at LSU
It’s easy for Alleva to say that he never considered hiring Fisher now. Staying the course has obviously worked out well for LSU. A win on Monday gets LSU its first national title in 12 years and puts Orgeron at 40 wins in four seasons with the school. That would be a slightly better win rate than his predecessor. Miles had 114 wins in 12 seasons.
Orgeron’s hire also likely saved LSU some money in coaching salary. Orgeron took a salary less than what Fisher or Herman would have commanded and more money was put toward the assistant coaching salary pool. That allowed LSU to hire assistants like defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and helped the Tigers give passing-game coordinator Joe Brady a hefty raise after this season.
Brady, the former New Orleans Saints assistant who has helped energize LSU’s offense in 2019, is finalizing a new deal with the Tigers.
“I do feel that Joe is going to be a Tiger,” Orgeron said on Dec. 31. “I feel like everything is just about wrapped up, and I feel good about where we are. You know football, you never can tell what's going to happen, but I feel confident saying Joe is going to be here with us at LSU. He's a great young man. We've just about got everything wrapped up. Not completely finalized yet, but we're very close.”
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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