After one of the wildest coaching carousels in recent memory, after all the SEC’s mind-rattling movement in late 2017, Paul Finebaum sees one name facing serious heat next fall: LSU’s Ed Orgeron.
Recently, the SEC Network analyst spoke to SEC Country and named Orgeron when asked to give his selection for the SEC coach who enters 2018 on the conference’s hottest seat. Orgeron posted a 9-4 record in his first full year as LSU’s coach last fall, and the Tigers ended with a loss to Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl.
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that he’s going to lose his job, short of a cataclysmic season,” Finebaum told SEC Country. “But I think the way that the  season ended was pretty negative. I believe the bowl game hurt.”
Finebaum went on to reference LSU’s recent recruiting effort, which 247Sports ranked fifth among the SEC’s 2018 classes. He alluded to the loss of 5-star Patrick Surtain Jr. to Alabama on National Signing Day as a particularly tough setback.
“Recruiting went OK, but LSU needs more than a good recruiting class,” Finebaum said. “They need a great recruiting class, and I don’t think they got that. They got a passable recruiting class. Losing that player late to Alabama, Surtain, was a big blow. So, those are just a couple of things that, to me, stood out.”
After touching on Orgeron’s situation, Finebaum analyzed the SEC’s coaching landscape beyond Baton Rouge. He said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops had improved his situation after leading the Wildcats to the TaxSlayer and Music City bowls the last two seasons. He also mentioned Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, who recently received a seven-year, $49 million contract extension.
“Stoops, I think, has done enough to quiet everyone down,” Finebaum said. “The program is moving in the right direction. Ole Miss is a mystery, but Matt Luke is going to be judged on a pretty loose curve because of the circumstances.
“And beyond that, Malzahn went from hot seat to a new contract. I still hear grumblings from Auburn fans with the way the season ended. I would love to be on the hot seat with a brand new seven-year, $49 million contract. I’ll take that every time. He’s not on the hot seat, but the level of discomfort for Auburn fans is still there in spite of last season.”
In Orgeron’s case, many eyes will be on the Tigers next season. LSU must show improved consistency on offense as the program moves forward with new coordinator Steve Ensminger following Matt Canada’s underwhelming stint.
Finebaum is right: Oregeron likely won’t lose his job this year, barring a disaster. But Tigers fans should expect LSU to contend with Alabama and Auburn for SEC West titles.
Finebaum’s interview was made possible by Pilot Flying J , which is partnering with the analyst for the Slam Dunk Sweepstakes during the SEC Tournament in St. Louis . More information about the event can be learned by clicking here .
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