AP source: LSU to retain Ed Orgeron as head football coach

LSU coach Ed Orgeron celebrates with players after an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016, in College Station, Texas. (David J. Phillip AP Photo)
LSU coach Ed Orgeron celebrates with players after an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016, in College Station, Texas. (David J. Phillip AP Photo)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – LSU has decided to keep Ed Orgeron, giving the interim football coach the job on a permanent basis, a person familiar with the decision said.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Saturday because LSU does not plan to announce the decision until an afternoon news conference.

The move comes two days after the No. 25 Tigers defeated No. 22 Texas A&M 54-39. Following Thursday night’s game, chants of “Keep coach O” could be heard from LSU’s locker room.

Orgeron has gone 5-2 since taking over for Les Miles, who was fired in late September after LSU started 2-2. LSU’s two losses since Orgeron was promoted came against No. 1 Alabama and 13 Florida, the Southeastern Conference East Division champion now ranked No. 13.

This marks the second winning interim stint at a major program for Orgeron, a 55-year-old Louisianan who went 6-2 at USC after Lane Kiffin was fired in 2013.

This marks Orgeron’s second full-time head coaching job at the Division I, FBS level. The first also was in the SEC – at Mississippi in 2005. But he never had a winning season with the Rebels, going 10-25 in three seasons.

Since then, however, he has gone 11-4 in two interim posts combined and now has his “dream job” for good when LSU caps this season with a bowl game that has yet to be determined.

Orgeron’s popularity among fans was instant and evident from his first walk into Tiger Stadium after he’d received the interim job. He’s been a household name in his home state for decades, and his grass-roots support was hardly unexpected.

Orgeron was recruited to play for LSU after winning a state championship at South Lafourche High School, where he was teammates with quarterback Bobby Hebert, who would go on to an NFL career, notably with the New Orleans Saints. After initially signing with the Tigers, however, Orgeron decided to play at Northwestern State with Hebert.

He has coached as an assistant, often serving as a defensive line coach and leading recruiter, with several major programs, including Miami, Syracuse and Tennessee. He also spent a season as a defensive line coach with the Saints.

Orgeron arrived at LSU as a defensive line coach under Miles in 2015. As the interim at LSU this season, he began with three lopsided victories, which elevated him into a legitimate candidate to keep the job.

Players began touting his credentials, and their calls built to a crescendo Thursday night. They posted videos on social media of a locker-room celebration following the big win over Texas A&M to cap the regular season. In interviews after the game, players renewed their calls to keep Orgeron.

Orgeron was similarly adored by players during his stint at USC, but the Trojans hired then-Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, who has since been fired.

LSU viewed USC’s experience as something of a cautionary tale. The school also figures to save money because it won’t have to buy out another coach’s contract. The university already is paying a $9.6 million buyout of Miles because of the firing.

With Orgeron now in place, LSU is expected to retain defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, whose defense allowed just 11 touchdowns through LSU’s first 10 games before the Tigers wound up in a shootout with the Aggies this week.

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More AP college football: http://www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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