Rebel offensive lineman Sean Rawlings, a lifelong Ole Miss fan, doesn’t have any memories, either.
Rawlings wasn’t even 10-years-old when Orgeron was hired as Rebel head coach in December of 2004 despite no previous experience as even a college coordinator. Rawlings was just coming into his fandom. These days, however, he can’t recall much. Brent Schaeffer comes to mind. Michael Spurlock, too. But really, there wasn’t much to hold on to for Ole Miss fans back then.
Orgeron was 10-25 in his three seasons, including a 3-21 mark in Southeastern Conference games. He was fired the day after losing to Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl in 2007.
“I think I saw it on social media or whatever where he doesn’t have a whole lot of memories of when he was here,” Rawlings said. “Neither do we, so.”
Ole Miss is 3-3 (1-2 SEC) following a disappointing 34-30 loss to Arkansas, so Rawlings isn’t all that interested in an Orgeron-faces-his-old-team storyline. Plus, LSU is big enough on its own.
The Tigers (4-2, 2-1) are one of the Rebels’ oldest rivals, second only to Mississippi State as their most-played opponent. LSU holds a 59-41-4 advantage in the all-time series. Ole Miss last won in Baton Rouge in 2008.
“He’s trying to make it a talking point, but I think we’re just ready to play it,” Rawlings said. “We’re always ready for LSU, no matter who’s coaching. That’s a really important game to a lot of us and a lot of the Ole Miss fan base. That’s the thing that motivates us more, not who’s coaching or where he used to coach. This is LSU. This is a big rivalry game.”
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze can’t avoid the Orgeron discussion. He spent two seasons on Orgeron’s coaching staff — an opportunity Freeze said opened the door for his college coaching career.
Freeze is in his fifth year at Ole Miss.
“I have great respect for him and what he’s meant for my career,” Freeze said. “Without him giving me an opportunity to learn from him in recruiting and how persistent and how he did things from great passion … I learned a lot from him. I really don’t know that my career does what it does without the opportunity he gave me. With the opportunities he’s had, he’s approached it differently. When I talk to him now, he seems a bit different about his approach. It’s working for him. It’s no surprise the kids are playing well under him.”
“Ed was always very, very good to me. We were always very close. At the end of it, everything was strained around here. I think he had great confidence in me. I appreciated that the whole time we were here. I’m indebted to him. I don’t know if I’ve ever been around a coach who is more passionate. It wasn’t a roller coaster in that regard. He was as driven as anyone I’ve ever seen.”
Orgeron was promoted from LSU defensive line coach to interim head coach after long-time head coach Les Miles was fired Sept. 25. LSU is 2-0 since Orgeron took over, with wins over Missouri and Southern Miss.
Prior to joining LSU in 2015, he was the defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator at USC for four seasons, including the 2013 campaign where he went 6-2 as interim head coach.
“Hugh Freeze has done a tremendous job in his five years there,” Orgeron said. “He’s a tremendous fit for that school.”
“That’s so long ago, I don’t know,” Freeze said, when asked of his memories of Orgeron’s Ole Miss career. “People are not patient. I think we had recruited really well under Ed. It was close to turning a corner. Hindsight is 20/20. I’m not second-guessing. If you look at the athletes Ed and our staff brought in, we thought we were really close. We didn’t win enough games the last year to satisfy and the change was made. In talking to Ed and listening to his interviews, he learned some things. There’s people, obviously, that believe in him. I think he’s doing some good things that are working.”