On Saturday, beautiful Tuscaloosa, Ala., was host to the best game of this college football season. The No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide hosted the No. 2 LSU Tigers in what many believed to be a mock playoff game between two of the SEC’s best. The Tigers jumped out to an early lead and quieted the usually rowdy Crimson Tide home crowd, going into halftime with a dominant 33-13 advantage. Tagovailoa and the Tide fought back in the second half, making it a one-score game late in the fourth quarter. Still, it was the Tigers who held on for victory, and the college football world was set ablaze accordingly. While Orgeron has maintained a player-friendly reputation since his career began, it’s become a trademark of sorts for the deep-voiced, barrel-chested Cajun who began his college football career as a reserve for LSU before transferring to Louisiana’s Northwestern State University. Since then, he’s brought his blue-collar, family and football first philosophy to an impressive line of stops that includes the University of Miami, the University of Mississippi and — yup, you guessed it — USC. “I’m so happy for the state of Louisiana,” Orgeron said following Saturday’s win over the Tide. “We’re bringing a national championship back to the state of Louisiana.” You’d think a rare home loss would put the spotlight squarely on Alabama head coach Nick Saban, but it was LSU head coach Ed Orgeron who stole the show and the hearts of viewers around the country with the career-defining victory. Matthew Philips is a senior writing about football. He is also a former lifestyle editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Catch or No Catch,” runs every other Tuesday. Everything was on the line this game and, boy, did it deliver. In this emotional postgame interview, Orgeron doesn’t take credit or mention himself even once. He gives all the praise to his players and all the spoils to his home state. If that isn’t pure class, then I don’t know what is. He and his college football-loving heart are right where they belong, right in the bayous of Southern Louisiana. The Crimson Tide had been riding a 31-game winning streak at Bryant-Denny Stadium before the Tigers came to town, adding to the tension of a potential loser-goes-home scenario for the elusive College Football Playoff. A head-to-head matchup of Heisman frontrunners in LSU senior quarterback Joe Burrow and Alabama junior quarterback Tua Tagovailoa also set the stage for a potential Trophy-winning game between the two. Sadly, Orgeron didn’t last long as USC’s interim coach following the firing of *gasp* the infamous Lane Kiffin in 2013. He went 6-2 to finish out the season as head coach of the Trojans and resigned from the program after the hiring of *gasp again* former Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian. Orgeron, or “Coach O” as he’s affectionately known throughout college football, might be the most likeable figure at the head coaching position. His gruff Southern Louisiana accent has quickly made him a beloved icon among fans and analysts alike, but it’s his warm, egoless coaching philosophy that sets Orgeron apart from the rest of college football’s elite. Since then, it’s been a slow ascent up the coaching hierarchy at LSU for Orgeron, who accepted the position of defensive line coach in 2015 under head coach Les Miles. When Miles was fired in 2016 following a loss to Auburn, Orgeron was announced interim coach for his home state’s flagship football program. And, after LSU closed the season with an impressive 6-2 stretch under Orgeron (sound familiar?), the administration dropped the “interim” tag and promoted Orgeron to full-time head coach. As a young man, Orgeron served as the defensive line coach for several impressive University of Miami teams that produced players such as Cortez Kennedy, Russell Maryland and Warren Sapp. There, Orgeron became well-known as a coach unafraid to take his shirt off and wrestle any players who challenged him as the strongest guy in the locker room. (Rumor has it he hasn’t engaged in this behavior in several years, but I’ll bet you can find answers in the USC athletics department if you look hard enough.) Also, I’m sorry to say this to USC fans but, after sobbing (correction: I was sobbing; he was fighting back tears) along with Coach O following his Tigers’ victory over the Crimson Tide, it’s safe to say he’s at the right place. We had our shot, and we decided he wasn’t the right fit. We weren’t wrong. Now, looking back, it’s not hard to see that the school made the right decision. Orgeron has built a program on tough love and hard work down in Baton Rouge, and it will likely result in a playoff berth and Heisman candidate for the hungry Tigers’ team.
Leicester head to Old Trafford today knowing victory over Manchester United will make them arguably the most unlikely league champions in history. Claudio Ranieri has fashioned a modern day football miracle which will become complete if the Foxes take the three points they need to take the title.But it is more than 18 years since the Foxes last won at Old Trafford and they will have to do it without top scorer Jamie Vardy after the FA banned him for an additional game for improper conduct – although his replacement Leonardo Ulloa starred in his side’s 4-0 thrashing of Swansea last Sunday.Manchester United will not want another club winning the league on their own turf when they are so used to lifting the trophy themselves and have shown a recent improvement in form, which has seen them book their place in the FA Cup final and cling onto hopes of muscling in on the top four and in the process qualify for the Champions League next season. United will be brimming with confidence after booking an FA Cup final place with a last-gasp Anthony Martial winner against Everton at Wembley last weekend.Beating the leaders could play an important role in boosting their chances of qualifying for Europe, with Manchester City and Arsenal, third and fourth respectively and five points clear, still to face each another.Louis van Gaal has no fresh injury concerns. Only Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luke Shaw remain sidelined. The Dutchman hinted that the England defender has an outside chance of playing in the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace on May 21 during his pre-match press conference.Shaw has been sidelined since September after he suffered a double fracture of the right leg in United’s Champions League group stage defeat to PSV Eindhoven.Vardy remains banned for the Foxes after the England star was handed an additional one-match ban by the Football Association following his reaction to referee Jon Moss after he was sent off in the 2-2 draw with West Ham this month.Leicester City have now won 22 league games this season – their highest tally in a top-flight season, overtaking both 1928-29 and 1965-66.Coming in to this matchday, Riyad Mahrez is the only player to have reached double figures for both goals (17) and assists (11) in the Premier League this season.Wayne Rooney has currently scored 99 Premier League goals at Old Trafford – the only player to have scored 100+ at a single ground in the competition is Thierry Henry at Highbury (114).If they win this match, Leicester City will become the first team to win their first top-flight league title in England since Nottingham Forest in 1977-78. They would become the 24th different team to win the English top-flight league title, doing so against the team that has won the most top-flight titles in England (Manchester United – 20).Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram