Less than two years ago, Ed Orgeron led LSU to a national championship. He assembled a superb staff, landed a transfer quarterback who later won a Heisman and became the No. 1 overall pick, and built one of the greatest teams in college football history.
On Sunday, LSU decided to part ways with him.
Just like that, one of the best jobs in college football is open.
Who will LSU hire as a replacement? That's the question on the minds of Tigers fans, agents and hopeful coaches looking for a change and a massive payday.
To further explore the biggest story in college football, we asked B/R readers to tell us who they believe should be LSU's next head coach.
Coaching searches normally get weird. The answers below tell us this one will likely be that and then some.
Let the games begin.
Gettin' the Band Back Together
Suggestion: Joe Brady
One could argue that no one contributed more to the 2019-2020 national title than former passing game coordinator Joe Brady. The 32-year-old helped transform a once-stagnant offense into a glorious machine.
It didn't hurt to have Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Ja'Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson and Terrace Marshall Jr. making plays. But Brady took some tremendous players and maximized what they were capable of.
In terms of his fit at LSU, I certainly get the intrigue. The offense would be superb, and recruiting on that side of the ball in such a talent-rich area would excel.
But does Brady even want to recruit? Sources I talked to within LSU mentioned that recruiting was not something he much cared for. I can't blame him for that, by the way.
The fact that he went to work in the NFL under Matt Rhule for the Carolina Panthers immediately after that season, where he is currently the offensive coordinator, also speaks volumes.
Brady is also still only 32 years old, with minimal coaching experience. While LSU has the resources to put together a dynamite, experienced staff around him, he might need more seasoning. Or maybe he just prefers making millions of dollars calling plays.
Either way, I'm not quite there yet. I'm not sure anyone else is, either.
The Midwestern Fix
Suggestion: Why not Luke Fickell?
Why not? I concur.
For whatever reason, Luke Fickell, the current head coach of the No. 2 team in the country, hasn't been connected with an assortment of major job openings over the past few seasons.
Given just how well Cincinnati is playing, I expect that to change.
Since 2018, he's 37-6 with the Bearcats. His teams are balanced and talented, and he's done a ton with a program that doesn't have nearly the same resources as many of the other teams it competes against.
Fickell is a Midwest guy, and his football roots are in Ohio, outside of a brief stint as a player with the New Orleans Saints. With that said, I don't see him having an issue recruiting or competing with other teams in coaches in the SEC.
However, USC is probably a more likely fit. His former athletic director, Mike Bohn, now calls the shots for the Trojans. Those are the dots probably worth connecting.
As such, I don't necessarily think he'll be the choice for LSU, although fans should be thrilled if he is.
Suggestion: Lane Train!!!
In terms of splash, this is the name.
Lane Kiffin would bring an undeniable energy to LSU, and with it would come massive recruiting success and an unimaginable amount of intrigue.
Eight years ago, this would have seemed preposterous. But Kiffin, who's still only 46 years old, has remade his image, coaching style and impact over the past few years.
After beating Tennessee on Saturday—along with dodging golf balls, beer cans and bottles of brown substances we best not explore—Kiffin has Ole Miss at 5-1 heading into next Saturday's game against, you guessed it, LSU.
As someone who covers the sport, I desperately want this to happen. The connection between program, coach and fanbase could be intoxicating. It could also be hugely successful.
But I also wonder if this environment and the pressure to win might be too much.
That is not a knock on Kiffin, who I believe could handle just about anything at this point. I just wonder how all of his glorious Kiffin-isms would go over in this place after a seven-win season.
If you're LSU, you have to explore the possibility. If you're Kiffin, you have to do the same.
It just might not be a perfect football marriage. And that's perfectly fine.
Ragin' Cajun Infusion
User: @ Fedupfan58
Suggestion: Billy Napier next up at LSU
I like this idea quite a bit. If you watched Louisiana play over the past two-and-a-half seasons, you probably like it, too.
Compared to just about every other candidate suggested, Napier would be the least "flashy" hire. Please don't mistake that with bad; it's just the reality for a coach who is currently navigating the Sun Belt.
But Napier has a lot of things working for him when it comes to this job.
For starters, he coaches just down the road from LSU and already has the area mapped. He's also only 42 years old. And he worked under Nick Saban extensively at Alabama, which is the kind of seasoning necessary to make this jump.
Since the 2019 season began, Napier is 26-5 with the Ragin' Cajuns. Along the way, he has turned down multiple offers to be a coach at a Power Five school.
Would he have interest in LSU? How could he not? Whether or not LSU would have interest in him is another question entirely.
Athletic director Scott Woodward, who is making his first hire with LSU, is likely looking to reel in a big fish. I'm not sure Napier would qualify, but he has an incredibly bright future somewhere.
Speaking of Big Fish…
Suggestion: Jimbo on his way back to Baton Rouge
Why would Jimbo Fisher, who just signed an extension with Texas A&M that will pay him in excess of $9 million until 2031, leave for another job?
Well, for starters, it's a better one.
The Aggies have tremendous momentum in a lot of places, more resources than pretty much anyone, and a ton going for them. They can win a national title, which is not something many programs can say.
But Texas A&M isn't LSU. And if Fisher decided he wanted a change of scenery, few (if any) have better scenery than this.
There are a few other connections here worth nothing. For starters, Woodward and Fisher are tight. In fact, Woodward hired Fisher at Texas A&M.
Oh, and Fisher logged significant time at LSU. He even helped the Tigers win a national championship as an offensive coordinator under Saban in 2003.
A lot of this depends on just how comfortable Fisher is in College Station. Given his current contract, it might be hard to turn down. There's enough here, however, to give this one some strong consideration.
Suggestion: Dave Aranda
Like Fisher, Dave Aranda knows what it's like to have success in Baton Rouge.
Baylor's current head coach served as LSU's defensive coordinator between 2016 and 2019. During his time with the Tigers, he became one of the highest-paid assistant coaches in the country—a tactic meant to keep him from leaving for one of the many opportunities that were presented.
In his second season at Baylor, Aranda has the Bears at 6-1 and ranked No. 20 in the AP Poll. In his first stop as head coach, the 45-year-old looks to have his program on the right track.
Would he be a fit at LSU? Naturally.
From a recruiting and comfort standpoint, few coaches would slide into this position as gracefully as Aranda would. He knows what it takes to build teams and defenses at this level. He also knows just how ridiculous the expectations are at LSU to win.
I still don't expect that he would be the first or second call. While he is gaining coaching experience, he's still in only the middle of his second year. He needs more time, and I imagine LSU will likely feel the same.
To be clear, this wouldn't be a bad hire. I just don't believe they'll start with him.
The Biggest of Bayou Homecomings
Suggestion: Saban making the flip
Just, well, no.
I cannot possibly say no any louder than this.
OK, let me try. I'm going to say no as loud as I possibly can.
And for the people in the back, one last time: no.