In 1979, Rupert Holmes became a legacy with his hit song "Escape," better known to the world as "The Pina Colada Song," where a man looking for a new love discovers his current girlfriend is the ideal choice. It's good advice for Joe Alleva at Louisiana State University, where his best choice in his college football coach may be Ed Orgeron, the man currently coaching at LSU.
Early this season, after the closest of losses to Auburn University on the road, LSU fired head football coach Les Miles for going 2-2 (he had also lost to a top ten team, the University of Wisconsin). All Miles had done was to win a National Championship, get the team to another National Championship after winning the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and another SEC West title, winning 77% of his games at LSU, with five Top 10 finishes.
After tabbing Ed Orgeron as the interim head coach, Alleva made googly eyes at everyone else's head coach. He fawned over Florida State University's Jimbo Fisher, hit on the University of Houston's Tom Herman, and wanted to woo just about any other coach not named Nick Saban, the former LSU coach and the leader at University of Alabama who almost always seemed to get the better of Miles.
Meanwhile, Orgeron and his teammates salvaged an impressive season. Other than a close (and controversial) loss to Alabama (10-0) and a last second loss to SEC East Champion the University of Florida, the team had a great year, capped by an impressive 47-31 win over Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Day, while Alleva was gawking at a long list of coaches.
As Yahoo Sports reported in interviews with players, the locker room wants Coach Orgeron....badly. "He's done a great job," LSU running back Derrius Guice said after the team's road win over Texas A&A. "He's a family guy. He keeps us close. He reminds us that it's you fighting for your brothers. We're all one heartbeat. I want Coach O to stay. We need somebody like Coach O to lead us out there. Coach O has my vote all the way."
As for the other suitors, there are already signs that Fisher, a former offensive coordinator with LSU, wouldn't be welcomed by everyone with open arms. "And The Valley Shook" already started taking shots at Fisher in multiple columns, claiming he wasn't that great when he was at LSU. They attributed all of his success to recruiting one player, Jameis Winston, ignoring the fact that Fisher has virtually stocked the NFL with Seminole talent on offense and defense. It took more than one player to win that National Championship and get into the National Championship playoff the following year on just one quarterback. FSU needs to keep him.
Fisher is approaching the legendary Coach Bobby Bowden for developing a legacy in Tallahassee. His impressive 81 percent winning percentage is loved at FSU, but is only a few points ahead of Miles' winning percentage. He's an injured QB or defense slump away from groveling for a job at Baylor University (as Miles is) after being canned by LSU in a few years, even if he does win a National Championship at Baton Rouge.
Houston's Herman is already the subject of a love triangle between his current school, the University of Texas, and LSU. I watched his Cougars outduel the Seminoles in the Peach Bowl (aided by FSU having to rely first on a third-string QB and the second-string QB playing on a broken ankle for the rest of the game after leaving with an injury). But Herman should realize that neither Texas nor LSU would treat him so well if he lost games to Navy and Louisville, as he did this year. Herman's good, and Houston should reward him with a competitive contract.
While Alleva was playing the football version of footsie under the table with other coaches' agents, his team responded incredibly to Ed Orgeron's leadership. After the big win over Texas A&M, the players repeatedly chanted Coach O's name, according to USA Today. They badly want him to stay. Though Orgeron struggled at the University of Mississippi (how easy is it to recruit a diverse array of football players under a Confederate Flag?), he brought respectability back to USC. The school responded by letting him go after he saved the school, only to make a disastrous hire.
Doesn't this sound a lot like the Pina Colada song, where the protagonist seeking a new girlfriend writes a personal ad, looking for someone who shares all of his favorite things to do? The person who responds positively to his ad to "escape," meets him at the bar, and it turns out to be his current love. The two presumably live happily ever after, perhaps winning a National Championship within the next few years.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.