Ed Orgeron and LSU athletic director addressed media Sunday following the announcement that Orgeron would part ways with the program at the end of this season, taking a buyout. Here’s the transcript of what they said:
SCOTT WOODWARD: Welcome everyone and thank you for being here on a Sunday.
Before we talk business, I want to take a moment and make some personal remarks because this is real personal to me. This ia a bittersweet day and the reason I say bittersweet is that the sweet part is I came here (to Tiger Stadium) and yesterday we had a helluva game. The thing about is coach Orgeron beat the Gators three times in a row and that's all three years I've been here, Ed, and that's something I’m proud of.
But I want you guys to know Ed Orgeron is a friend. We're both Louisiana guys through and through. We both deeply care about this football program and I will always be grateful for coach Orgeron for leading the Tigers to the greatest season in the history of college football. With that said, the job requires us to set personal feelings aside and make decisions that are ultimately best for LSU.
Since my first day back at LSU in 2019, Coach O and I have maintained an open and consistent dialogue about the state of LSU football. At LSU, we expect to compete for SEC and national championships year-in and year-out. We are proud of that standard and we will always work to uphold it. Our last two seasons have similarly not met that standard. When we evaluated our on-field results and the future of our program with (university) President Tate, we determined that it is time for us to move in a new direction.
That was LSU's decision, but it is one Coach O understands. It's clear in our conversations he wants what's best for LSU above all else. We've asked him and he has agreed to remain as head coach through the end of the 2021 season. We believe that gives our student-athletes the best chance for success this season. We believe it will help us in our recruiting efforts as well and I know Coach O will continue to give everything he has because that's who he is and that's what he's always done for our state and for our university. His passion and pride for our football team and for our state are unrivaled and undeniable.
The search for LSU's next championship coach begins today. And while there will be plenty of time to discuss that in the days and weeks ahead, I believe today is about Coach O and what he has meant to this program. So, in that vein and in that spirit, I will now give him the opportunity to say a few words.'
ED ORGERON: Thanks, Scott. First of all, I'll say that Scott's been up and up with me ever since he got here. We're both from Louisiana, I knew the expectations at LSU when I took the job. I told you that; I understand the expectations, I invite them. And man, 2019 was a magical run, but you know why? Because of the players. We had great players and we had great coaches here. The players here make this program and you're able to recruit great players here at LSU. But I knew we had to sustain that momentum and we had to sustain that standard. And I know the last two years hasn't been the standard at LSU. So when he came and talked to me after the Kentucky game, I knew that it was time.
I understand that. I understand the expectations at LSU. And I invite them myself, but we did not meet them the last two years. I'm honored that I got to be the head coach at LSU, the administration has treated me with class, with dignity the whole time that I've been here. They gave me everything that I needed to have success. I met with the players today, it was the first time that I get to talk to the players before I wanted to talk to you. But I am happy that I can be the coach of the LSU Tigers towards the end of the season. And I promise you this: We're not going to blink. I'm glad we beat Florida. Tomorrow is going to be Tell the Truth Monday and we're going to be on to Ole Miss. I'm going to take it one day at a time, but I'm always going to appreciate my time here. I have no regrets … not one day. I was not going to have a bad day. I'm not going to blink, I told you guys that. You know, the circumstances that we haven't won enough games the last two years? I totally get it.
Woodward: We'll take questions and let's be brief. You'll get a kick out of this and this is the fun part, but Coach O has not let go of the remote today watching film of Ole Miss and he's got to get back there and continue to do that.
Q: What did the players say, what was their reaction and how do you want it to go going forward with their focus?
Orgeron: Nothing's going to change. We're going to focus on beating Ole Miss. We're going to take the same attitude that we had going into the Florida week. The players, I just told them how it was. Nobody said nothing, nobody talked. It was about five minutes and I told them exactly what I told y'all. I understood the expectations of LSU and I knew after the Kentucky game that we were headed down a road that wasn't positive for LSU and there was going to be a change made and I just felt that.
Q: When you left Ole Miss, you evaluated yourself and realized the mistakes you made. How do you evaluate yourself here? The last two years, what went wrong?
Orgeron: You know, I'm not the one to evaluate myself. I'll let y'all do that, y'all do it enough (laughter), I could care less about it.
Q: You've talked about micromanaging (at Ole Miss) before, do you think maybe you were a bit too much CEO and not enough hands-on?
Orgeron: No, not all all. I don't regret a minute. I think we did it the right way. No excuses, we did it the right way. Hey, when you win, you're doing everything perfect. When you lose, you're not. That's the way it is.
Q: Someone who watched the game yesterday said it seemed like a weight had been lifted off you. Do you think you'll have fun with it, with the weight lifted off you and this has been cleared up?
Orgeron: Yeah, the weight was lifted off me because I felt like we were going to win. I did not know everything was going to be finalized. Bur now, that doesn't matter. That's not the way I'm going to be. I'm going to be the same I was today and I'll be the same guy tomorrow with this football team until my last day here at LSU.
Q: Where do you think it went wrong? Do you think it was relaxed focus? Was it a perfect storm to get to the top and then it conspired to get you to where we are now?
Orgeron: You know, I've been really concerned with the day-to-day process of what's been going and I never looked at it like that. What went wrong, nothing like that. I don't have that. If I had the answer to what went wrong I would have fixed it.
Q: With recruiting and the transfer portal the next month and a half, how do you handle that?
Orgeron: I tell them to come to LSU. I'm still recruiting players. I tell them to come to LSU, this is a great place. I recruited them to come to LSU, why would I tell them any different now? I'll tell them to come to LSU, this is a great place, they're going to hire a great coach and you're going to have great success here at LSU. My message to the recruits will not change. I met with two today.
Q: Do you plan on coaching next year?
Orgeron: No. I want to take a little time off. I'm 60 years old, I've been coaching 37 years. I think I'm going to have enough money to buy me a hamburger every once in a while. A double-meat cheeseburger. I want to take a little time off to find out what direction I want to be in. You ask me if I think today I might not coaching, that might be different a month from now. But right now, I'm going to take a little time off and spend it with my kids.
Q: How does it feel to have go from a high to a low like this? Just two years ago, you were champions. Now this is the end result.
Orgeron: You know what? That’s not the way I live my life. That's the wrong way to live. I live my life one changed my attitude towards life. All those external things don't affect the way I live.
Q: You said after the Kentucky game, things were going down the wrong road, but made it look like they were going down the right road yesterday so, I mean?
Orgeron: Well, I just felt that the Kentucky game, them rushing through for 330 yards on us, just wasn't LSU's style of football. I knew it wasn't pretty. I was embarrassed.
Q: Your love for LSU, is that the reason why you're finishing out this season? Most times when coaches are told they’re not coming back next year they just want to call it a day and move on there. What is the motive to stay here the entire season when you know you’re no longer going to be head coach?
Orgeron: We're going to finish playing and I'm going to be right there with them. That’s the reason that Scott and I mutually agreed. I'm going to finish with this statement: I love this team. I love being with these guys. I love LSU and the day I leave here I'm going to give everything I can every day.
Q: All the players that you’re without now this season that’s going on for this year with all the injuries and you have a player who’s academically ineligible. Did you ever want to say: "Hey, look, if it weren’t for these things: I’d be winning?" Did you ever want to look for an excuse?
Orgeron: No, never. We beat Florida. We did the same thing last year, so I wouldn't change a thing. Not a thing.
Q: This week you told us that the gator chomp was one of your favorite memories. I’m sure you got a lot of favorite memories of your time here at LSU, but you got anything that comes to mind other than that?
Orgeron: Definitely the championship year. A lot of great memories during that championship year.
Q: you mentioned that you’re still meeting with recruits, you met with two today, what exactly are you telling the recruits?
Orgeron: I tell them that I love LSU and I was telling them the right thing before I was not going to be here and I still have the same feeling about it.
Q: You feel there’s some greatness in this team left?
Orgeron: I love the way we ran the ball yesterday. I love the way we stopped the run. I think Glen Logan really helped us coming back, see Ty Davis-Price, to see the offensive line gelling like we did. Sticking to the run, being recommitted to the run. We’ll take it one day at a time, tomorrow is 'Tell the truth Monday,' we’re gonna get on to Ole Miss. This is a big job ahead. We have a tough schedule ahead. We'’ll take it one day at a time. I’m glad we got this out the way. Tomorrow, we can focus on Ole Miss.
Q: If you reach a bowl game, do you think you will coach in the bowl?
Orgeron: Yes, yes.
Q: Whether it was fair or not, OK, a lot of people are making a big deal out of what happened last year with the African American players on the team. If you can clear that up as to exactly what’s your take on what happened with that situation?
Orgeron: Yeah, that was the thing that was…
Woodward: I can clear it up. It had nothing to do with this decision and coach can talk about his personal feelings, but it was wins and losses on the field and where this program was going
Orgeron: We can also note it was going on across the country. It wasn't just here. I think we’ve dealt with it, we’ve made positive progress towards the things that were wrong. I know LSU is heading in the right direction. I don’t feel that that’s all … I don't know.
Q: Who did you talk to in your family and how did those conversations go when you told them you would no longer be the head coach at LSU?
Orgeron: I talked to my sons, we’ve discussed it and they're fine with it. All three of them want to coach and I'm about to help them coaching. I can't tell you what Coco said, but she wanted to make sure I got my money.
Q: We've seen this with Coach (Paul) Mainieri: He said he was gonna stay at Baton Rouge, have you thought about that, or is that too far down the road?
You know, there's some things I want to do. Definitely places I want to go, and some things that I want to be part of, but I'm not really sure yet.
Woodward: You better come hang out by the bayou with me though.
Orgeron: That's right.
Q: I think it was in this room, five years ago that you brought up the rope and you wanted to change the program as you came on as the interim, I guess five years later from now as you sit here today just sort of what’s going through your mind on your tenure? I know you said you don’t have any regrets, you wouldn't have done things differently, but sort of what’s going through your mind as we think over the last five years now?
Orgeron: Well, it was a great run, if you ask me. To be able to go 15-0 and have one of the best football teams that ever played, not every person gets the chance to say that. Let me say: It was because of the players and because of the assistant coaches we had. But, you know, the last couple of years were not the standard of LSU.
I know I went to work as hard as I could every day. Tried as hard as I could every day. That's all you can ask.
Q: Scott, getting this out of the way now, how does this give you a leg up in completing your coaching search? You said it started today, have you already started reaching out? How is the process begun for you?
Woodward: There will be a time and place for that. Today is about Coach O and this team and we’ll talk about that later. We have plenty of time to do that.
Q: Coach, if you could give one piece of advice to the next coach that you learned over the last couple of years, what would it be?
Orgeron: Not my job (laughter). Not my job to do that.
Q: If you would elaborate more on, there is such a tie with this state to that man, and likewise I guess it’s gonna be difficult, it’s gonna be odd, right, but like, just what he's meant to the program and athletics?
Woodward: Like I told you, personally, it’s going to be difficult and different from me because, you know, every day, I’d see Parker and I’d see Tyler and when Cody came to town I saw him and I see O every day.
You know, I tried to make this program as good as I could and part of it is with O. Here I am, I’m LSU and that’s who I am and O was part of that. We tried to get better every single day and try hard every single day, but it is going to be something that I really miss because Ed is a friend.
He's a Louisianan through and through and we have a lot in common, you know, we know these things and I can’t say that about everyone I’ve been in business with. This guy accepted me from day one and accepted me as a partner, and I asked him if he would and that’s how I approached it and we did. He let me be a part is as little as I did and that '19 year, be a part of something that was really truly special. I’ll forever have that with O and we’ll forever have that bond.
And the hard times, because he didn’t make excuses and as he says, it’s not a cliche you guys think his coach speak: He doesn't blink. That's who he is, he is positive, he’s looking at things the right way and like a true Louisianan and he loves those boys, more than anything in the world. And man, when you do that, you go a long way with Scott Woodward.
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