The legend of Ed Orgeron stretches back well beyond his LSU days. In fact, Coach O even has Syracuse ties. He was the Orange’s defensive line coach from 1995 until 1997. The Fizz caught up with some of Orgeron’s former players to talk about the greatest (and not so greatest) moments from his brief tenure at SU.
Brian Coleman: “We were watching film in the defensive line meeting room and he was so disgusted by our play and how bad we were playing on film that particular game that he took the film out. Back in those days, it was a Beta Video Tape. He took that tape out and he smashed it. Not just smashed it one time on the desk. He smashed it and he stomped it and he threw it up and threw it down. I mean, he threw that thing across the room until it was pieces scattered around the room from this video tape. He went into a rage on this video tape. I remember it caught our attention so much when he did that, that from that point on, we never wanted to perform like that again.”
Duke Pettijohn: “It was our freshman year and we were on the scout team. And Emerson Kilgore, who was one of the biggest people I have ever met [6-foot-3, 320 pound offensive lineman], and he did something wrong on one of the scout team plays and Coach O just got mad and he just picked him up, and I mean snatched him up like he was a 200 pound receiver. It was funny and it was scary because I was like ‘wow.’ But it was just his intensity. He had high expectations for guys, so sometimes he had a short fuse.”
Derrick Corley: “We were playing in Morgantown at West Virginia. There were some kids behind the fence and they were heckling and just doing what they do. [Coach Orgeron] was getting annoyed with it. It was kind of known and they told us when we go to West Virginia that going in and out of the tunnel you should wear your helmets because sometime they would throw oranges or they would throw batteries, even. So, we were on the sideline and he was [drawing] some plays on the board, and one of the kids threw an orange and it hit off the seat back of the bench and it hit Coach O in the jaw. Needless to say, he was very, very, very upset. We had to calm him down on the sideline. It was hard not to laugh because you better not laugh. He used a little colorful language, but it didn’t go any further than that.”
Antonio Anderson: “I was making fun and imitating him with his Cajun voice. I did it in front of one of the coaches and I was lifting weights and [Orgeron] came into the weight room and he said ‘Hey Tony! You wanna make fun of me? You think I don’t know? We’ll see tomorrow in practice.’ And I was just like ‘aw, damn.’”
Coleman: “In the beginning years, I used to tell people I felt like a step child. A couple of us defensive linemen in (Orgeron’s) first freshman class felt like he didn’t even want us. He didn’t even recruit us. He got stuck with us and he hates us. Even in those beginning years, [Orgeron] even moved me to offensive line after my first year at Syracuse working with him. Ultimately, I was able to convince him to take me back on the defensive line and finish my career there.
Corley: “It was his energy and passion [that made Orgeron such a good recruiter]. Knowing that he was going to be my direct position coach, I was sold. He had me in a stance in my computer class. He told me to get up, get out of my chair and get down in a stance in my class and was showing me what kind of stance I would be in and what kind of technique we were gonna play. I mean, he was doing this in my classroom with other students in the classroom. Nobody else did that stuff. Nobody.”
Coleman: “When you were around him, it made you just sweat. It was interesting back then seeing him with [his] wife and kids [at a team Thanksgiving dinner]. For us, it was just kind of trippy sitting there seeing a guy [who] at that time, we thought he was crazy. To see him as a family man, it was mindblowing. One of the guys on my team that was sitting there with me spilled some gravy on the table and we were afraid he was gonna freak out and start screaming at us.”
Anderson: “This one day, I did something wrong in practice and I think he got upset. The blood all rushed to his face and he got red in his eyes and kind of bulging [too]. I was looking at the other guys like ‘holy crap, what the hell is this.’”
Coleman: “Anyone around him could tell [Orgeron] was unique. He’s not like any other coach. I think even the staff at Syracuse realized that he was on another level as far as his intensity every single day. I remember Coach Orgeron was adamant about working out and training and doing the same type of workouts and even the conditioning test that Syracuse football players had to pass at the beginning of camp. Coach Orgeron would train to be able to pass that test as well. I know a lot of the other coaches would do the same thing [because] they saw him running those 110 yard sprints everyday and I noticed a lot of the coaches started to join him.”