Before LSU, Ed Orgeron shined at Syracuse

first_img Published on September 21, 2017 at 12:20 am Contact Matthew: | @MatthewGut21 Inside a computer lab at University Christian (Florida) High School in 1995, Ed Orgeron instructed Derrick Corley to crouch into a defensive stance. Orgeron’s energy was contagious. How he spoke in a raspy, Southern drawl. How he told Corley to position his legs and angle his shoulders. How to spring off the ground as if he were rushing a quarterback.Orgeron said all of this as he demonstrated the moves himself, poised on his hands and knees between rows of computers in a Jacksonville classroom. A couple dozen students looked up from their screens.“I decommitted from Miami and went to Syracuse just because I wanted to play for him,” Corley recalled from the recruiting visit.The legend of Orgeron, commonly known as Coach O, has only grown since he left central New York. He’s known now as the coach whose pregame speeches end up on SportsCenter. The coach who once challenged his entire team to a fight, shirtless. The coach who used to walk through his football offices banging a bass drum strapped to his chest at 7 a.m.But before that, he was the defensive line coach at Syracuse under Paul Pasqualoni from 1995 to 1997. Orgeron switched the SU defense from a 3-4 to 4-3 scheme, turning the Orange into one of the more feared defenses in all of college football. He helped SU go 27-10 over his three seasons, a period during which Syracuse finished in the year-end Associated Press Top 25 every season. He helped the Orange to three consecutive Big East titles and bowl appearances, including a 41-0 rout over Clemson in the 1996 Gator Bowl.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textTwenty years after leaving Syracuse, Orgeron, 56, will lead No. 25 Louisiana State (2-1) against SU (2-1) on Saturday night at Tiger Stadium. The game will air on ESPN2.“At Syracuse I became a better football coach,” Orgeron said. “I had some great years there and learned how to recruit there. I brought a lot of tools from Syracuse on to the SEC.”He said he liked the Italian food, but not the snow. Nonetheless, the SU job proved to be the launchpad of Orgeron’s career, pumping a hard-charging recruiter to a big-name coach. After Syracuse, he bounced around various assistant roles from Southern California, to Ole Miss, the New Orleans Saints, Tennessee and back to USC. Then, in 2016, he became a full-time head coach for the first time in his career at LSU.Courtesy of SU ArchivesBefore he became a Southeastern Conference head coach, Orgeron grew up 100 miles south of LSU’s campus in the town of Larose. His father ran a vegetable stand. Sometimes, as the defensive line coach at Miami in the early 1990s, he slept in the locker room because he could not afford to pay for his apartment, Jeff Danish, a former Syracuse defensive lineman, said.One night in 1992, Orgeron head-butted the manager of a bar in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and was arrested. Charges were dropped, but the incident coincided with his resignation from Miami.That intense nature apparently translated to the field. Danish remembers him as someone who left his home in Manlius at about 5 a.m. and worked until midnight. He walked around campus during the day to ensure his players attended class. If players missed class, he met them the next day at 4:30 a.m. at a track on South Campus and joined them for sprints until they vomited.“He never had a dry T-shirt on, rarely smiled and was always running around with sweat dripping down his nose,” said Dana Cottrell, a former Syracuse defensive back and New England Patriots tackle.Orgeron formulated game plans, tinkered with drills and examined game tape for hours, said former players who would drive by Manley and see his office lights on at all times. Orgeron regularly invited players to his home for meals, and on Thanksgiving he had dinner for players who could not arrange plans to go home for the holiday.“He was more of a father figure to me than as a D-line coach,” said Danish, who later played for the New Orleans Saints and New York Giants. “He’s probably the best D-Line coach in Syracuse history.”One afternoon at West Virginia, fans were throwing oranges, batteries, bottles and cans toward the SU sideline. Two young boys were heckling them. One threw an orange that bounced off the top of the metal bench and hit Orgeron in the jaw. Players had to restrain him.“He was ready to go in the stands and chase down the fan who threw the orange,” said former SU defensive back Phil Nash. “He’s an in-your-face, rah-rah kind of guy. It’s nothing but love. He wants the best out of you every day.”Orgeron brought to Syracuse the same intensity he now brings to LSU, where he earns $3.5 million per year and drinks eight to 10 energy drinks per day. At Syracuse, he ran his players through a variety of defensive line drills, counseling them on the art of the club-and-rip technique, where a rusher attempts to break down the angles of the blocker’s shoulders. One of his favorite drills involved tennis balls.With a player in a three-point, defensive line stance, he encouraged them to race to a ball in front of them while staying low to the ground. After practices outside of Manley, he had players perform pullups with a towel on a fence until their hands cramped. During inside pass-rush drills, his voice boomed on the practice field.He never had a dry T-shirt on, rarely smiled and was always running around with sweat dripping down his nose.Dana CottrellAmong the All-Americans on which Orgeron has left his fingerprints is Antonio Anderson, a former Syracuse defensive lineman and All-Rookie honoree with the Dallas Cowboys. Anderson remembers Orgeron being “all about hand placement,” when trying to navigate blocks, plays in the backfield and battles against double teams. Anderson credits Orgeron with teaching him several tendencies he carried with him to the NFL, including when to be heavy and light on his hands.“He made me light years ahead,” Anderson said. “Everything he taught me translated to the pros. My goal was to go to the NFL and coach O instilled everything I needed to get there.”Several former Syracuse players still keep in touch with Orgeron, Anderson included. A couple months ago, they were chatting over the phone, reminiscing about an early morning workout on a track on South Campus. Players cut the corner to get done sooner, but Orgeron, from the other side of the field, caught Anderson. All he heard was, “Toni, you don’t cut across the track,” while his teammates laughed at him.“To come from sleeping in the locker room in Miami,” Danish said, “to becoming one of the head coaches at top program in his hometown is remarkable. It’s his dream job. It’s what he’s made for.” Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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