Fighting perception, LSU football program spends big on Aranda

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Ed Orgeron
(Photo: Jonathan Mailhes)

These days, it is good to be LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.

Spurning two strong overtures from Texas A&M, Aranda stayed with LSU for a four-year guaranteed contract that will pay him $10 million over the life of the deal.

Is Aranda worth it?

It is a good question, but there is a better question. With LSU parting with offensive coordinator Matt Canada, what would the optics have been if Aranda bolted, too?

The answer is, it would have been a body blow to the program.

Perception is something the LSU football program has fought since the Tigers were shutout by Alabama six years ago in the BCS championship game in New Orleans. The perception is the program is no longer elite.

But here’s a fact. At some point in time, in the relatively near future, Dave Aranda will leave LSU, probably for the NFL. And you know what? Life will go on.

Jog back three years ago.

LSU head coach Les Miles met with defensive coordinator John Chavis after the Music City Bowl to try and convince him to stay in Baton Rouge.

Chavis, feeling (correctly) that Miles was on borrowed time, bolted for Aggieland. 

The hue and cry was significant.

But after one year of Kevin Steele at the helm of the defense, LSU found Aranda at Wisconsin.

Aranda has been terrific.

Yet, contrary to popular belief, he can be replaced.

When LSU is paying north of $2 million per season for a defensive coordinator, the program can get just about anybody they want in the college game. Maybe in the pros, too.

Once again, LSU is fighting perception.

A fickle fan base was ready to run Ed Orgeron after the loss to Troy. The same group was unhappy with a Citrus Bowl loss to Notre Dame, when the Tigers were clearly the better team.

Aranda simply could not be allowed to walk.

Now, some LSU fans are calling on Orgeron to hire former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze as offensive coordinator.

Freeze is an excellent coach, no doubt about it. However, the spread, Freeze’s offense, is not Orgeron’s preference.

Ed is a pro style power football guy. By the way, Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm isn’t a spread guy yet he has the Bulldogs in the national title game.

Fromm has a solid offensive line, and two exceptional tailbacks to hand the ball. It works when you have great players.

The reason Matt Canada arrived at LSU for the 2017 season was simple. The program was fighting perception, that somehow the fix for its offense was on the outside.

Orgeron, to get his interim tag removed, had to hire someone like Canada. His hire did a solid job.

But, he too can be replaced.

When Nick Saban was at LSU, he had three defensive coordinators – Phil Elmassian, Gary Gibbs and Will Muschamp – in five seasons. They all had two things in common. They were coaching for the best college coach in the game, and they were coaching some of the best players in the nation.

So now the defensive coordinator at LSU earns more than the men’s basketball coach.

These are interesting days in Tigertown, where perception is, pardon the pun, the red elephant in the room.

With Nick Saban to the east and now Jimbo Fisher to the west in the same division with LSU, the only thing that will change perception is an SEC title and a berth in the college football playoff.

Somebody in New Hampshire won the Powerball $559 million jackpot. They might be the only person in America who had a better weekend than Dave Aranda.

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Ed Daniels

Ed Daniels

WGNO Sports Director/106.1 FM

Ed is a New Orleans native, born at Baptist Hospital. He graduated Rummel High School, class of 1975, and subsequently graduated from Loyola University. Ed started in TV in 1977 as first sports intern at WVUE Channel 8. He became Sports Director at KPLC TV Channel 7 in Lake Charles in 1980. In 1982 he was hired as sports reporter…

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