A bold birthday prediction: Why an LSU national title would prove Ed Orgeron's mom right
A week before the regular season, at a time when nobody had Ed Orgeron’s LSU Tigers pegged as national championship contenders, it was Orgeron’s mother’s 77th birthday.
As usual Coco Orgeron didn’t ask for anything. As usual, her son sent her a grand bouquet of flowers, this year's wrapped in purple and gold accents. But after Orgeron called and wished her a happy birthday, Coco Orgeron offered him something in return, a birthday wish that was more a statement of fact.
“I said, ‘Okay, this is the year. We’re going through it,’” Coco Orgeron recalled.
The “it” was the national championship. And while she claims neither she nor her son are superstitious, she was seeing signs that this would be a special year.
“I told him, ‘I’m 77. Your number was 77. You won the state championship in ‘77. You don’t think this is the year, buddy?” Coco Orgeron said.
Ed Orgeron is not known to spend any amount of mental energy humoring predictions, but his mother remembers a similarly confident response: “Mama, I think this year is the year. I think we have the best team.”
Since then, LSU's play has backed up that gut feeling. The Tigers (14-0) are undefeated after barreling through a schedule that included five top-15 teams.
When asked about that prediction after a November win over Ole Miss, the team's tenth of the season, Orgeron declined to double down on his mother's title aspirations.
“First of all I love my mom. That’s where I get my enthusiasm from. And I don’t listen to no predictions, but I know 77 is a big number for her. Big year and I appreciate everything she’s done for me,” Orgeron said. “But I’m not going to comment on that, yet.”
Now only Clemson stands in the way of LSU's first championship of the College Football Playoff era, and Orgeron can only hope his players do the talking on the field.
LSU’s defense is peaking at the right time, but the Bayou Bengals’ title hopes are fueled by the rocket-like arm of Heisman Trophy-winning transfer quarterback Joe Burrow.
That, too, was a prophecy born in the Orgerons' hometown of Larose, Louisiana.
After LSU hired Ed Orgeron in 2016, childhood friend Josh Jambon made a sign for Coco Orgeron's front yard, a picture of Santa Claus holding "Coco's Wish List." And among less ambitious wishes such as world peace and an increase in oil prices to boost the local economy were goals that seemed unattainable for a university mired in mediocrity: Win the Heisman Trophy and beat 'Bama.
LSU checked both of those boxes this year. Now there's only one item left on Coco Orgeron's to do list.
"We're coming home with the trophy. I don’t get in my car unless I think we’re going to win," Coco Orgeron said.
Superstitious or not, there is a poignancy to Ed Orgeron's team competing for the title in New Orleans' Superdome. Besides the chance to play in his home state, in his team's home state, Orgeron has a history in the dome. This is where, as a defensive line coach for the University of Miami, he earned his first national championship ring in a 1990 Sugar Bowl victory over the University of Alabama. Orgeron even stalked these sidelines for one season as a member of the New Orleans Saints' staff in 2007.
And while Orgeron also won rings as a member of Pete Carroll's staff at USC in the early 2000's, this is his first opportunity to win as a head coach. As Coco Orgeron says, it means everything. To him. To Larose. To the state of Louisiana.
Coco Orgeron will not back down from her birthday prediction, but her son should not expect her expectations to subside if his team falls short.
There's always next year.
"If he doesn’t, guess what? We’re going to do it in another year. As long as we’re alive...I’d like to get five or six in a row," Coco Orgeron said with a wink.
Read more LSU football news:
- LSU vs Clemson: Coach Ed Orgeron's story of redemption in full swing
- LSU's Top 10 moments of the perfect 2019-20 season ... so far
- Guide to New Orleans food for LSU-Clemson Championship
News tips? Questions? Call reporter Andrew Yawn at 985-285-7689 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.