Coach O is the walking, Cajun talking, living example of what it means to have the right person, in the right job, at the right place, at the right time. He is the definition of Job Matching. Ed Oergeron led LSU to the College Football National Championship, and along the way has demonstrated leadership, fortitude, wisdom, drive, passion and spirit, but above all, the critical aspect of “fit”. People and organizations achieve the most when there are synergies, when there is the right fit; when the job matches the person and the person the job.
College football has always sort of been my guilty television vice. It is the only sport I actually make a point to follow, and the only games that sometimes I will schedule around, that I will actually sit down and watch. As for going to games on campus – anytime, anywhere. I love game day on a campus. LOVE IT. Living around the country, it has been the constant lens into regional culture. How the sport is consumed and the passion around it tells you a lot about the region.
I was very attuned to USC football and Coach Oregeron during their tumultuous 2013 season. He was promoted from Defensive Coordinator to interim head coach midway through the year. It was wildly clear from the outside that the players and students loved him, but it was equally clear that he was not the “right fit” for USC. There is so much more than “the X’s and O’s, Jimmy and Joe’s” that goes with being a college football head coach, especially at a major program. It is literally running a multi million, if not billion, dollar business. The coach builds a staff, runs an operational program, recruits and trains his players and coaches, and above all sells his program. He literally has to raise money and sell tickets. Boosters, alumni, television, radio, youtube videos, all of it. The head football coach is the face, and voice, of the football program, and more often than not, the athletic department, if not the university. Coach Oregeron was many things, but the optimi of USC was not one of them. He was not retained. He was without a job, again.
Coach Oregeron had been a head coach before, and it did not go well. He took a relative demotion to be the Defensive Coordinator at USC, and earned the chance to be an interim head coach in 2013. He did well. However, it was not the right fit. The job did not match the man, nor the man the job. Coach Oregeron elected to take a demotion, and certainly less income, to go to LSU as their Defensive Line Coach in 2015. The man knew LSU was the right place – the job was a match, and potential future opportunities and promotions would come if he performed. Clearly they did.
Above all else, the story of Coach O is also about learning from failure. His path to the National Championship was paved with challenges and setbacks, failures, firings, being passed over, parodied and some could say mocked. He took demotions to keep working. He moved for opportunity. He hired people who were smarter than him; experts in their fields, and then gave them the freedom to execute. He led with heart and emotion, energy and passion. He put others over self. He did not let his ego get in the way. But above all, he never gave up. When he earned the chance, that one opportunity to get the perfect job, at the perfect place, at the perfect time, he took it. He was never shy about saying LSU was the job he wanted, and today LSU, Louisiana and Cajuns everywhere are better for embracing Coach O.
Dare I say we are all just a bit better for knowing of Coach O.