Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Rick Cleveland opines on Yaw-Yaw

So, LSU fired Les Miles Sunday and elevated Ed Orgeron to the position of interim head football coach in Baton Rouge.

We can argue the wisdom of the first half of those two moves all day. LSU, a school famously strapped for cash these days, will pay Miles $10 million not to coach. But in my opinion the decision to elevate Orgeron, the former Ole Miss head coach, makes sense. Orgeron's job will be to keep the seat warm and to make sure recruiting stays on course. He can do that. He proved it at Southern Cal.

Orgeron also proved at Ole Miss he is not a long-term solution. We here in Mississippi are reminded of his short, remarkably interesting tenure in Oxford.

I am especially reminded of the way that tenure ended.

Orgeron essentially fired himself on Nov. 23, 2007. Remember? The Egg Bowl was played on that Friday at Starkville. A couple of days earlier I had written a column in The Clarion-Ledger saying it was time for a change at Ole Miss. That Orgeron, completing the third year of a four-year contract, clearly wasn't getting the job done.

I could have based that opinion strictly on his record. Ole Miss entered that Egg Bowl having won 10 games and lost 24 under Orgeron. The Rebels were 3-20 against SEC teams, 3-23 against teams from BCS conferences. Ole Miss had won one game in three seasons against a team that finished with a winning record. Those Rebels ranked last in the SEC in scoring offense, scoring defense, turnover margin, rushing defense, total defense, time of possession, red zone offense and kickoff coverage. They were 11th of 12 teams in rushing offense, passing efficiency, first downs, field goals and allowing third down conversions. They were the only team in the league without an SEC victory.

But there was so much more. As I wrote: “There has never seemed any rhyme or reason to Orgeron's decision-making –- on or off the field. It is almost as if he makes his decisions based on tea leaves, the flipping of coins or which way the wind is blowing.”

Of all the columns I ever wrote for the Jackson newspaper, that one touched the biggest nerve. My email blew up, both pro and con. My office phone rang incessantly. I wish I had saved some of the voicemail. Rebel fans, amazingly, were sharply divided on the issue. Some thanked me for the column. Others hoped I would die a slow, agonizing death.

I do remember one voicemail from a State fan who was angry as Hades because he thought I had written the column to purposely fire up Ole Miss. “You have guaranteed Ole Miss a victory,” the guy said.

So of course Ole Miss dominated the first 50 minutes of playing time and led 14-0 with 10 minutes remaining. In the press box, I was still getting email from Ole Miss fans decrying my column earlier in the week.

And then it happened. Facing fourth and one at midfield and leading 14-0, Orgeron left his offense on the field. A Liberty Bowl official said to me, “He's just going to try to pull them offsides.”

“Maybe, but with Ed, you never know...” I replied, and then Ole Miss snapped the ball and was stuffed, effectively giving State a chance.

You do know what happened next. The State crowd, virtually silent until that moment, went crazy. State rallied and won the game 17-14.

I asked Sylvester Croom afterward what he thought when Ole Miss lined up to go for it on fourth and one. Replied Croom, “I thought Christmas had come early.”

It had.

By the time I got back to the press box, my email was blowing up again. This time, many of the emails were from Ole Miss fans apologizing for earlier emails.

That has never happened before or since.

Reach syndicated columnist Rick Cleveland at

Kingfish note: My favorite Orgeron story was the 2005 LSU game. The Ole Miss qb took a beating that game. I mean he looked like Beetle Bailey after a Sarge beatdown.  I think Flatt was his name.  Poor kid hobbles to the sidelines, probably didn't know where he was, and O proceeded to berate, yell, and cuss him out.  It was a rather disgusting display of character.  Not even Saban at his worst would have done something like that when he lost his temper.  


Anonymous said...

Mark my word. The firing of Miles at LSU will be akin to the firing of Bower at USM. You can't win all the games, but what sense does it make to fire a coach with an almost 80% win percentage? $10 mil to buy Miles out, $2mil to buy Cameron out. They are setting their own death penalty and I hope they wallow in it. Greed and insatiable Cajuns will insure several losing seasons in Death Valley. They deserve the shrimp boat captain in Eddie O.

Anonymous said...

Ask Tennessee fans how firing Phil Fulmer worked out.....

National championship coach,2nd best winning record,etc,etc sound familiar Tigers??

Anonymous said...

11:34.....spoken like a true Ole Miss fan. .....someone who knows nothing about the expectations of LSU football or of Miles' record the past 5 years. Blown out in the 2011 national championship; 15-13 in SEC West play since that game. Les had some measure of success in his first 5 years, but since that time, he's built one of the nation's richest talent pools into a mediocre football team.

Anonymous said...

Now that Yaw Yaw is at the helm in Red Stick, you're going to have to update the story of the Tribe of Hotty Toddy.

Anonymous said...

Poor Les. Won that natty with Saban's horses. Held his own for 3-4 years against Bama, but since that anal rape in '11, it's been all down hill from there. Lester is simply another in the long line of processed SEC coaches. Hunchback is on the clock now.

Anonymous said...

I'm an OM fan and I hate it that they fired Miles because I'm afraid they are going to go out and get a coach who can competently lead an offense.

It doesn't take a lot to win 7-8 games at LSU. All the players may have loved Miles but the team was simply regressing. Firing coaches mid season is the norm now which I think is where a lot of the shock comes from. After last season, they were willing to give Miles a try and it didn't take long to see nothing has changed for the better.

As for the money, the state money and the school's budget are separate from the athletic department. Just because a state might be struggling financially doesn't mean their athletic budget is. And I would imagine they made some calls before this to make sure the money is there.

Crazy 'Bout Curley said...

I am an Ole Miss fan and I've watched Miles underachieve with his talent for years. Remember that NC game where Miles refused to replace his QB when Jefferson was playing miserably (rumor was that he got drunk before the game)? Remember the Ole Miss game where Jefferson spike the ball on 4th down? Miles tried to hang it on his QB when film showed him running down the sideline doing the "spike" motion with his arm. His clock management is the least of his shortcomings.

Miles should have done better than he did with his talent pool, but the fans need to ratchet back their absurd "expectations of LSU football". The college game is different than it was in the days of Dietzel and McClendon. The opposition has strengthened and you can't just walk into the playoffs.

Of course, you can keep playing that ancient Billy Cannon footage if it'll make you feel better.

Anonymous said...

LSU should hire Rick Cleveland to coach the team since he knows everything there is to know about sports.

Anonymous said...

I hope all of the $1-4 million dollar coaches lose, get fired and are replaced by seasoned high school coaches making less than the coaches boss, the AD and much less than the school president. And then the alums can donate $$ to academic pursuits instead of intramural sports.

Anonymous said...

The whole point of firing your coach is the hope the next guy will have better luck winning and better yet winning the big one?

Anyone want to ask Nebraska what it is like to fire a 10 win coach?(Pelini)(Solich)
Ole Miss?(Cutcliffe)
Ohio State?(Tressel)
Texas A&M?(Slocum)
Maryland? (Friedgen)
Auburn? (Chizik)

All of these teams had dismal, horrible, dumpster fire seasons in the following seasons after firing a coach with a win percentage above 65%. It is sad and pathetic that Tennessee, Georgia, LSU, and Auburn would get rid of successful coaches because of the instant gratification that culture of SEC football has made. Fanatics for winning. Too bad no matter what, you will lose. There are very few examples where a successful coach who was replaced by someone better than the original.

What it means is your team will have really really bad seasons.

Anonymous said...

Tebow Homers in First At-Bat but Cleveland won't tell you that.

Anonymous said...

Crazy 'Bout Curley: meanwhile Ole Miss falsely believes they are relevant since they once (kinda) were in the past... pre-integration, playing a classic Vaught schedule of absolutely nobody...never has there been a more delusional fan base. Saddest part is that the delusional never can see it for themselves.

Kingfish said...

Those schools ran into problems because they broke one rule: hire the resume.

If you are trying to be a top program, you hire a top coach or one with a proven resume. That means success at other schools that leads one to think the coach has a reasonable chance at success if hired. However, some of these schools try to get cute and hire the next diamond in the rough or undiscovered genius. Kirby Smart for example, was a DC for Saban. Saban runs that defense. Period. Muschamp hasn't exactly worked out too well either. Smart should've proved himself somewhere else before UGA hired him.

Resumes don't lie.

Truth is, Saban got in Mile's head on 1/9/12. He made Miles quit. Miles has not been the same coach since that night. More conservative, more tentative in his coaching. The undisciplined play, clock mismanagement and winning on talent alone became more magnified.

Simply put, Les got over $4 mill per year, had the highest paid assistants in the country, had top notch facilities, and a damn good recruiting base that many schools would die to have. All of that and he is only coming in third or fourth in the SEC west, doesn't go to Atlanta for 5 years, and the trend was getting WORSE. He didn't change anything and it showed on the field this year.

Butthurt Coonasses Everywhere! said...

@1:37 ha ha ha! Keep singing that sad song...and go wash that corn dog smell off!

Anonymous said...

@1:15 - Rick does what the sports media establishment tells him to do. They hate Tebow and want to see him fail at everything, so Rick is right there rooting for him to fail.

Anonymous said...

1:37 You seem upset. Is that delusion anything like your bitterness for the OM program?

Folks are upset, but it was Les's time and this seemed inevitable. Heck, he should've been gone after last season if Alleva and company hadn't screwed up that coaching search so badly.

Anonymous said...

The fact is when you shamefully and foolishly overpay coaches, they (and everyone else around) should not be surprised when they are shamefully and foolishly terminated without notice (with a shameful and foolishly large buyout). The joke is not on Miles, it is on LSU. And all you other SEC fans are making fun when your school might be the next one to drop an obscene buyout on your overpaid coach to get rid of him. The foolishness has become the norm.

Anonymous said...

1:52 & 1:15 - because Rick doesn't write about an athlete that has no connection to MS, playing for a team that has no connection to MS, and instead chooses to write about a current matter that has major connection to MS and all the SEC schools (of which MS has two), and makes a connection to those two MS schools, you believe that he is in cohoots with your conspiracy theory about the national sports media dislike of Tebow. Amazing

Thought it was a good column by Rick and always glad to remember what a great job Coach O did at OM.

Anonymous said...

I am an Ole Miss grad, but I live out of state and so I have become a general SEC fan - always pull for the Rebels, but I like to see any SEC team do well to stick it to all of the annoying Big 12 fans around me. I will also say that I have always liked Les Miles. He is a good coach and was good for LSU's program for a long time.

That being said, I liken this situation to the Mack Brown scenario leading up to his stepping down in 2013: sometimes it's just time for a coach to move on. Brown had clearly out-lived his effectiveness at UT, especially with the expectations that go with a top-tier program. I believe that Miles had reached that same point with LSU. It's unfortunate, but true.

I thought it was ironic toward the end of last season just about the time the Miles controversy broke out that Frank Beamer coached his last game at Virginia Tech. There was a huge celebration of his career at the game. He coached VT for 28 years. 28 YEARS! I know that VT is not an elite program like a UT or LSU, but it is a damned good program. He had a 66% winning record there - not even Miles' 77% - but the program stuck with him, and he retired a hero. That's what it should be like.

The reality is that college football is a business now. It's big business and brings in millions for universities as well as a boost in recruiting across the board (not just athletes). Big business pays big dollars and demands big results. As for the money it will take to push Miles out: If a bunch of wealthier-than-intelligent LSU boosters want to shell out $10M to say good-bye to Miles, that is their prerogative.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of sports writers, Hugh Kellenburger who runs the sports section for the Clarion Ledger has appeared to overwhelmingly favor the Black Bears and slighting all other schools even though he denies it and claims he is neutral for the states news paper, doesn't mind wearing his powered blues and cheering for them on the weekends. But that's nobody's business.

Anonymous said...

Addressing the self-righteous comment of the day at 2.44 PM:

College football is a business. Athletic departments have their own budgets, much of which come from ticket sales, broadcasting rights, branding contracts, etc. To build a bigger, better program that will attract more crowds and more TV and brand money, schools hire highly-skilled, thus highly-compensated coaches. The amount that most of these coaches are paid out of school budgets is usually equivalent to a highly-paid professor (if they are paid out of the school budget at all). Thus, few (if any) taxpayer dollars go to pay these coaches' salaries or severance payments.

It's what the market will bear. It's not shameful, foolish or immoral. It's free market economics.

Now, if you believe that free market economics are shameful and foolish, that will require another post entirely.

Seek first to understand. Judgment should come much, much later.

Anonymous said...

To the newcomer at 2:56...

Anonymous said...

Miles is probably LSU's best coach ever. He won big time. He averaged over 10 wins per year, won 3 SEC Championships and a NC. LSU is stupid to get rid of him. They could be going back to the 90's and late 80's when they were a middle of the road program.

Anonymous said...

Cleveland never lambasted Croom like he did Orgeron. Both were terrible coaches. For some reason, he though Croom was the next coming of Bear Bryant. He promoted and praised Croom at every opportunity.

Anonymous said...

4:36 just owned the hell out of 2:56. Rarely does one get to witness a sanctimonious jerk be fed his own fecal matter so deftly.

Well done, 4:36.

Hotty Notty said...

Oxford is a lot closer to Baton Rouge than Michigan. IF Hugh Freeze is given the opportunity to disappear into the sunset with a tight lip at the expense of the Mannings, look for Less Smiles to end up at Ole Miss. It's the ultimate SEC West conspiracy and you heard it first on JJ!

FOO-Baw, FOO-Baw said...

Orgeron had the worst winning percentage of any coach at OM since back before the day of Johnny Vaught. He's a bully, an embarrassment, a decent recruiter if a coon-ass can understand his language and knows zero about offense. He belongs in a weight room - Polishing dumbbells.

Anonymous said...

3:16 Must be tough being a fan of The Moo and ripping on a columnist who you and your fanbase claim to not read anymore--in a newspaper you all claim to not read anymore. Thought you simpletons all canceled your subscriptions years ago.

Anonymous said...

Those "free market" athletic programs would not exist but for the government institutions onto which they are attached. They exist solely to enrich the administrators and coaches at the expense of the blinded masses willing to flush their money into the athletic programs so they can purchase bragging rights. Your are right, the market is free and the fans are welcome to keep dumping their hard earned cash to purchase bragging rights. And, the coaches and administrators will keep getting richer while explaining how much of a family our institution has become. Then they will be unceremoniously dumped (along with a multi-million dollar payout) and quietly ease away. The cycle will restart and all will be happy when the new bright-eyed multi-million dollar coach is hired.

DAYUM! Here It Is! said...

BREAKING: "Those "free market" athletic programs would not exist but for the government institutions onto which they are attached."

I think we have just seen the light. This actually means that college football would not exist without college. Write that shit down!

Mike the Tiger is cryin' said...

Blast from the past...yoyoyoyoyoyo foo-baw.

Anonymous said...

5:08 - 4:36 appears yall egotistical ass is a little to full of yourself. Yes, Rick wrote about Tebow in June when there was little or no sports news in MS and Tebow was actually doing something newsworthy. (Kinda flies in the face of 1:15s snide remark more so than 2:56s, but who's counting). The news is the south this week was Miles, not Tebow home run in ---Instructional League!.

Hell, more news is Hunter Renfroe's home runs in major league -and a MS connection.

But that happened -as did Tebow -after Rocks column was in the can.

I stand behind 2:56s comments - Rocks column on Miles much more important than Tebow, and the fact that he wrote about Tebow in th he drought of summer doesn't change that. But smile in the mirror with your self satisfacrion. Don't use too much of that penis-enlarging cream at the same time, though.

Anonymous said...

There's Alabama in the SEC, Oklahoma and Texas in the Big 12, Southern Cal in the Pac 12, Florida State in the ACC, Ohio State and Michigan in the Big 10, and Notre Dame. Those are the jobs that attract the top talent. LSU isn't on that list, never has been, never will be. They won a national championship? So did Clemson and Auburn and BYU. LSU isn't a top ten program nationally, although it's close because of Miles, and they should have their heads examined for letting him go. They won't be able to replace him with an head coach with a better resume than his. Jimbo Fisher? It's ridiculous to believe that he'd leave a top tier program where he's winning and getting paid for it so he could move to Baton Rouge and have to play Alabama every year. Tom Herman will be able to take his pick in the off season, because other good jobs (Southern Cal in particular) will open up. LSU should be looking at Larry Fedora, maybe Rich Rodriguez, someone like that with an also-ran school. Otherwise they're going to end up holding an empty bag and scouring the ranks of up and coming coordinators in the off season.

Anonymous said...

1:37 said that Ole Miss plays a schedule of weak sisters. I am sure that Alabama, Florida State, Texas A & M, Auburn, LSU, Miss. State, Arkansas are all pleased to know that they are weak sisters.

This is Big Boy Football Reality said...

Larry Fedora? Are you shittin' me? He took a program that Bower had carefully crafted, including Bower's recruits and continued it in the fine fashion of winning. Then he jumped ship to mediocrity. He's nowhere near the stature of an SEC coach or SEC coach-prospect. He'll make an excellent offensive coordinator some day.

No matter what your record is or how much you contributed years ago, when your program circles the bowl for three years and is on the verge of heading into the sewer, you get your ass fired. The people who write checks demand that. It's called real world.

Anonymous said...

8:44 AM speaks with the authority of experience regarding that penis cream. The "drought of summer" stuff is funny too considering that Rick can never shut up.

Anonymous said...

This isn't a column about LSU, or Ed Orgeron, or Ole Miss, or the SEC, or even football. This column is about what ALL of Cleveland's columns are about...

...this is a column about Rick.

No matter the story, no matter the issues, no matter what, Rick will circle back to himself. He'll talk about his time at the CL or the time he met legendary coach Buckfuzzle or how he was standing on the sidelines at that landmark game we all remember or how he knew WELL before anyone that the freshman QB playing his first snap would be a first ballot NFL HOFer.

Argue Tigers vs Rebels vs Bulldogs vs Crimson Tards all you want. Rick doesn't care. All he cares about is himself.

Anonymous said...

And, 1:56, you are welcome to skip all of the columns that Rick writes and all of the comments about them since you don't seem to like them at all. Feel free - we won't miss you.

Meanwhile, some of us will continue to enjoy reading stories about coach Buckfuzzle, because just like you most of us haven't stood on the sidelines at the game or had a sideline sportswriter pass to get us in those positions.

Goodbye. And Good riddance.

I Was There When Babe Homered! said...

OK, it's all about Rick. But, once you've said Ho-Hum, Yawnnnn, So Much For That and Tell Me More About You......what's left?

Anonymous said...

4:27. That comment was intended for the large majority of college football fans that think colleges exists only because of the football programs. While you may get it, the large majority do not. Get some sleep!

Anonymous said...

Fedora may not be that good, but he's probably as good as LSU is going to get. The only reason people think they're a big time program is because they say they're a big time program. Don't get me wrong - I like LSU, I just don't think they're a top tier program that can take their pick from current successful head coaches.

Anonymous said...

...and Bobby Cleveland weighs in at 5:03pm!

Anonymous said...

No, not Bobby. About his size but not nearly as good a hunter or fisherman. I enjoy his writing also but not as much Rick when he writes about Coach Buckfuzzle.

Thanks for chiming in though, but you can leave to for your erroneous guess.

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