Rabalais: Whither (Matt) Canada at LSU and other football-related musings

November 28, 2017

Notes on a golf scorecard while trying to handicap what Tiger Woods will shoot this week in his latest comeback …

… For a coach who directed a pretty impressive 180-degree turnaround of his team’s season after a disastrous September, LSU’s Ed Orgeron has certainly created some intrigue for the Tigers concerning offensive coordinator Matt Canada as the calendar nears December.

After LSU’s 45-21 victory Saturday night over Texas A&M, Orgeron said he expects his first-year play caller to pursue head coaching vacancies and that he hopes he can land such a job somewhere. This though there are no reports of any head coaching openings to which Canada’s name has been publicly linked. Mississippi State, for example, is reportedly vetting Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and is eager to interview Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, but no Canada talk coming out of Starkville.

Of further interest was Orgeron’s response to a question as to whether LSU would continue to run Canada’s shifty, misdirection heavy offense were he to leave. The answer from Coach O was basically no, leaving one to deduce he isn’t exactly enthralled with Canadaball.

“I have in mind what we want on offense,” Orgeron said. “I’ve been at some pretty good schools, pretty good offenses.” Coach O went on to heap just praise on tight ends coach Steve Ensminger and the job he did as offensive coordinator last season after Les Miles and former offensive coordinator Cam Cameron were fired four games in.

Orgeron’s issues with Canada and/or his offensive style came to a head during the 24-21 loss to Troy, in which LSU didn’t appear to run Canada’s offense in a scoreless first half but did in the second as its comeback fell short. That loss prompted a summit meeting between Orgeron, athletic director Joe Alleva, Canada and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda for good measure. Since then, it appears to be Canada’s offensive show, which generated a sparkling 601 yards total offense against the Aggies.

LSU can’t just send Canada packing without paying him the remaining $3 million or so on his contract, and that certainly doesn’t appear to be the case. Canada was out in California on Monday recruiting quarterbacks. But it does raise the question as to whether Orgeron and Canada can co-exist in 2018.

It is a coach’s prerogative to have who he wants on his staff and the type of offense he wants to run. And under Canada, LSU didn’t exactly light up the night sky all season, ranking 54th nationally in total offense, 72nd in scoring and 84th in passing. But this was with a constantly makeshift offensive line and a tough but physically limited quarterback in Danny Etling. But you’d figure Canada would get more time to prove whether his system will flourish at LSU.

Maybe. Maybe not.

… In the hard and hyper-competitive world of college football, another team’s misfortune is your team’s gain. Or at least it better be.

In the SEC West, Texas A&M and Arkansas are looking for new coaches. Ole Miss just made interim Matt Luke its full-time coach, a move that indicates the school expects to get hammered by NCAA sanctions and didn’t believe it could lure a top-flight candidate to replace Hugh Freeze.

Auburn has the “burden” of being in the SEC Championship Game (hey, Nick Saban has complained about it), making LSU and Alabama the only schools able to actively recruit this week with their coaching staff’s in place.

If you’re Alabama, you just sell success. If you’re LSU, you sell a message of redemption these last two months have given the program and stability that other schools in the region can’t offer.

… It’s hard to imagine a school ever having made more of mess of a coaching search/hire than Tennessee has with this Greg Schiano fiasco.

Tennessee reportedly had a deal with Schiano, the former Rutgers and Tampa Bay coach and current Ohio State defensive coordinator, only to have the entire thing blow up when a social media campaign tarred Schiano with the Jerry Sandusky-Penn State scandal. Schiano’s knowledge of Sandusky’s child abuse is shaky at best, but it poisoned his candidacy.

What highly successful coach would want the Tennessee job now?

Paging Les Miles … coach Les Miles.

Miles at Tennessee would be like LSU hiring Van Chancellor to coach women’s basketball in the wake of the Pokey Chatman scandal. It may not work long term, but he’s stable, a proven winner and delivered a scandal-free 10-plus years at LSU. Tennessee can’t get 10 scandal-free minutes right now.

If not Miles, Tennessee may have to hire an unproven assistant. The Hat is a much better option.