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LSU Football: 11 Coaching Candidates to Replace Ed Orgeron

Ed Orgeron, LSU Tigers Football

LSU will have a new head coach for the 2022 college football season, as coach Ed Orgeron won't return next year. According to Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger, Orgeron will coach the remainder of the ’21 season with the Tigers but will not return next year. The news of Orgeron’s departure comes a day after LSU upset Florida to move to 4-3 this fall. Orgeron guided the Tigers to a national championship in ’19 and is 49-17 overall since taking over the top spot in ’16.

Who could replace Orgeron at LSU? Here are 11 names to watch in the coaching search:

11 Coaching Candidates to Replace Ed Orgeron at LSU

Dave Aranda, Head Coach, Baylor
Aranda worked as an assistant at LSU from 2016-19 and was instrumental in guiding the defense to improvement during the program’s national championship in ’19. In addition to his stint in Baton Rouge, the California native garnered valuable experience from stops at Southern Utah, Hawaii, Utah State and Wisconsin. After a 2-7 record in tough circumstances in his first year as Baylor’s head coach in ’20, Aranda’s team has showed marked improvement this fall, holding a 6-1 mark going into Week 8.

Joe Brady, Offensive Coordinator, Carolina Panthers
Brady was instrumental in LSU’s national championship in 2019 and is a rising star in the coaching ranks. The Florida native worked as an assistant with the New Orleans Saints from 2017-18 before arriving in Baton Rouge in ’19. Brady teamed with Steve Ensminger to implement a new spread attack, which helped lift the team to a national championship behind quarterback Joe Burrow. After one year at LSU, Brady left for the NFL and has worked as the offensive coordinator for the Panthers since 2020.

Matt Campbell, Head Coach, Iowa State
Campbell’s name is likely to pop up for any major openings this year, but there’s no guarantee he’s ready to leave Iowa State. The Ohio native worked as an assistant at Mount Union, Bowling Green and Toledo before becoming the head coach with the Rockets prior to the 2011 bowl game. Campbell went 35-15 at Toledo and was hired at Iowa State in ’16. After a 3-9 finish in his debut, the Cyclones are 36-21 since ’17, including a 9-3 mark and No. 9 ranking in the ’20 season.

Mario Cristobal, Head Coach, Oregon
Cristobal’s name popped up in the rumor mill for the USC opening and could garner a mention here as well. The Miami native is a relentless recruiter, which would play well at LSU and certainly in the SEC. He previously went 27-47 at FIU from 2007-12 and is 30-11 at Oregon since the end of the ’17 season. The Ducks have won the Pac-12 title in back-to-back seasons and enter Week 8 as the top-ranked team from the conference.

Luke Fickell, Head Coach, Cincinnati
Fickell’s name is going to pop up for every major opening this offseason and was already in the rumor mill for USC. However, there’s no rush for the Ohio native to leave Cincinnati. Fickell is 41-14 (2017-21) since taking over the top spot with the Bearcats, including a 37-6 mark since ’18. The former Ohio State player has Cincinnati squarely in the mix to the make the CFB Playoff this fall.

Jimbo Fisher, Head Coach, Texas A&M
This is extremely unlikely, but we have to mention Fisher's name here due to his past connections with athletic director Scott Woodward. After going 83-23 at Florida State from 2010-17 Fisher was hired by Woodward at Texas A&M. He’s 31-12 with the Aggies since 2018, which includes a No. 5 finish in the final CFB Playoff rankings in ’20. Fisher also coached at LSU as the program’s offensive coordinator from 2000-06. Again, Fisher isn't expected to bolt, but his name will be mentioned in the rumor mill.

James Franklin, Head Coach, Penn State
Franklin already has a good job at Penn State, but his name is likely to be mentioned for openings at USC and LSU. The Pennsylvania native is no stranger to life in the SEC, as he went 24-15 with three bowl trips at Vanderbilt from 2011-13. Franklin departed Nashville for Penn State in ’14 and went 14-12 in his first two years. However, the Nittany Lions posted three 11-win seasons over the next four years, including a Big Ten title in ’16. Penn State finished 4-5 in the unusual ’20 season, but the program has rebounded in a big way with a 5-1 record through Week 7.

Lane Kiffin, Head Coach, Ole Miss
Could Kiffin’s name pop up in the rumor mill for the LSU opening? Ole Miss has showed marked improvement under Kiffin’s watch and is 10-6 since the start of the 2020 season. Prior to taking over at Ole Miss, Kiffin went 26-13 with two Conference USA titles at FAU. Kiffin’s previous stint at a big-time job (USC) didn’t go well, but his experience working at Alabama under Nick Saban, along with his recent performance at Ole Miss shows he’s ready for another chance at a top-10 job.

Billy Napier, Head Coach, Louisiana
Napier’s name has popped up for SEC openings in recent years, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s one of the top candidates to replace Ed Orgeron. The Tennessee native gained experience working as an assistant under Nick Saban (Alabama) and Dabo Swinney (Clemson) before landing the top spot at Louisiana. After a 7-7 mark in his first season with the Ragin’ Cajuns in 2018, Napier is 26-5 over the last three years. Additionally, Louisiana has claimed three consecutive Sun Belt West Division titles and guided the program to a No. 15 finish in the final top 25 poll last season.

Mark Stoops, Head Coach, Kentucky
Could LSU look inside the SEC for its next head coach? Stoops is a name to watch in the coaching rumor mill this offseason, as he continues to raise the bar at Kentucky. After taking over in 2013, Stoops has compiled a 55-51 mark and has guided the program to five straight bowl games. The Wildcats went 10-3 in ’18 and are 6-1 through seven weeks in the ’21 season.

Mel Tucker, Head Coach, Michigan State
Tucker's stock is on the rise for this opening, as he has previous experience as an assistant at LSU (2000) and has impressed during a two-year stint at Michigan State. The Spartans went 2-5 in Tucker’s debut in 2020 but showed marked improvement in ’21 with a 7-0 record so far. He also has experience as an assistant from stints at Ohio State, Alabama and Georgia, along with a couple of stops in the NFL and a one-year stint as Colorado’s head coach in 2019. 

Podcast: LSU Search + Potential Candidates and Recapping Week 7