Two weeks later, Orgeron called the team’s loss to Missouri “embarrassing” and echoed the “I’ve got to coach better” sentiment. When Auburn handed the LSU Tigers their worst loss since 1996 and third loss of the year, Coach O’s press conference carried a similar tone.
LSU is 2-3. Alabama, Florida and Texas A&M — all top-10 ranked teams — and Arkansas and Ole Miss still loom ahead on the schedule. This is not what LSU fans had in mind coming off of a historic, undefeated 2019 national championship season that saw Joe Burrow put together the greatest single season by a quarterback, win the Heisman Trophy and land the first-overall NFL Draft pick.
The Southeastern Conference is a “what can you do for me now?” league and LSU fans expect to be the next Alabama. No, they want to knock Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide off their dynasty high horse, and that starts with Ed Orgeron.
With losses come uncertainty, and the questions have to be asked as the people of Baton Rouge cling to a national title and scratch their heads at this unexpected start: Is Ed Orgeron on the hot seat already? Could he ever be?
Ed Orgeron’s Salary
Louisiana State University handed the beloved Coach O a massive 6-year, $42 million contract extension after delivering a ring last season.
In 2020, he’s expected to make more than $8.6 million in base salary. That figure is second to only Nick Saban’s $9.1 million, per USA Today, and higher than Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh, Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher and Georgia’s Kirby Smart among NCAA coaches.
While it’s true that Orgeron deserves big money for winning last year’s College Football Playoff, I think we can all agree that sort of salary warrants consistent domination on the football field. LSU should be in the playoff every year contending for a national championship, not just once in a blue moon.
That’s why I’ve proposed the hot seat question. Orgeron is still beloved in Louisiana, but losing isn’t acceptable. How long a leash does Orgeron have wearing the purple and gold?
What Is Ed Orgeron’s Buyout?
Let’s say LSU finishes this season 4-6, hypothetically speaking. Sub-.500 records won’t fly and often lead to the firings of coaches in the SEC. Orgeron’s situation is not as simple as that.
If LSU truly did want to part ways with Orgeron after his first season under his new contract, the school would have to pay a ridiculous buyout. According to contract details broken down by The Advocate, his buyout is 70 percent of the remaining money owed on the contract. So that would be $27 million this year, $21 million next year and $16.8 million the following year.
Buyout Year 1: $27 Million
Buyout Year 2: $21 Million
Buyout Year 3: $16.8 Million
Buyout Year 4: $12.6 Million
Buyout Year 5: $8.4 Million
Buyout Year 6: $4.2 MillionAdvertisement
It’s not ideal to pay someone that much money to not coach your team, so I wouldn’t expect that to take place. That is unless games continue to play out like they have this season.
That also wouldn’t be totally unprecedented. Florida State fired Willie Taggart and owed him his $17 million buyout. Notre Dame had to pay Charlie Weis $18.9 million to go away. When LSU fired Les Miles for starting 2-2 back in 2016, he was still owed $9 million, though the athletic director Joe Alleva and Miles eventually agreed on a settlement.
After LSU lost talented players and passing game coordinator Joe Brady, quarterback Myles Brennan has played well while the defense struggles (maybe we should be talking about the buyout for defensive coordinator Bo Pelini, who replaced Dave Aranda). Ultimately, though, losses fall on Orgeron’s shoulders.
LSU football is still in better shape than many SEC programs. South Carolina is figuring out what to do about Will Muschamp. Tennessee hasn’t performed much under Jeremy Pruitt. Georgia’s Kirby Smart hasn’t been able to beat Alabama.
You certainly won’t find many SEC coaches that care more about their programs than LSU coach Ed Orgeron. Let’s just hope he rights the ship quickly.