LSU football coach Ed Orgeron will not return in 2022, two people with knowledge of the situation confirmed to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser, part of the USA TODAY network, on Sunday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the move had not been officially announced.
It signals the eventual end of a tenure highlighted by one of the most dominant seasons in SEC and Football Bowl Subdivision history but eventually doomed by a run of on- and off-field issues.
The news of Orgeron's departure was first reported Sunday by Sports Illustrated. It comes one day after LSU upset Florida to move to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in SEC play.
Orgeron will be owed a buyout of nearly $17.15 million, according to the terms of his contract, which explicitly states that he has no duty to mitigate that amount by seeking another job. The total represents 70% of the basic annual pay Orgeron had been set to receive during the remainder of the deal.
Last year, Auburn, another school in the SEC West Division, fired Gus Malzahn and owed him nearly $21.5 million.
Promoted from interim coach early in the 2016 season, Orgeron has gone 49-17 at LSU, with one SEC championship and one historic national championship. Quarterbacked by Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, the 2019 team went 15-0, set dozens of school records and dominated Oklahoma and Clemson in the College Football Playoff.
But the Tigers had struggled since, with a 5-5 mark in 2020 raising questions about Orgeron's job security and hiring decisions. After catching lightning in a bottle with 2019 offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who left that winter for the NFL, Orgeron hired former Nebraska coach Bo Pelini and watched the defense crater in one of the worst performances in program history.
This year's team was ranked No. 13 in the preseason USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll and viewed as one of the top threats to Alabama in the SEC. Instead, more struggles on offense led to losses to UCLA, Auburn and the Wildcats.
Orgeron's program at LSU came under heavy scrutiny for instances of sexual misconduct and dating violence involving at least nine players, according to records reviewed by USA TODAY Sports.
An amended Title IX lawsuit filed in June added Orgeron as a defendant for failing to report an allegation of rape levied against former running back Derrius Guice. The alleged victim then dated another football player, who told Orgeron about the alleged assault.
"(Orgeron) said, ‘Everybody’s girlfriend sleeps with other people,’ " the former player told USA TODAY Sports.
His midseason dismissal represents the latest twist in a career full of drama and intrigue. Fired as the head coach at Ole Miss in 2007 after three unsuccessful seasons, Orgeron was also the interim coach at Southern California in 2013.
He had been working at LSU under a contract that was renegotiated after the national championship season and signed in April 2020. It had been set to run through Dec. 31, 2025. In addition to paying Orgeron $6 million annually in basic pay, the deal included a loan arrangement under which the Tiger Athletic Foundation, LSU's athletics fundraising group, agreed to pay $5 million in premiums on a life insurance policy designed to provide Orgeron significant retirement income.
The payments were set to be made in $2.5 million increments over each of the deal's first two years. The timing of Orgeron's firing may enable the foundation to save a pro-rated portion of the second payment — a little less than $600,000.
Contributing: Steve Berkowitz
Follow colleges reporter Paul Myerberg on Twitter @PaulMyerberg
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ed Orgeron, LSU football parting ways; coach's buyout nearly $17.15M