InsideNDSports - Ed Orgeron drops in on Notre Dame football practice, lauds Marcus Freeman
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Ed Orgeron drops in on Notre Dame football practice, lauds Marcus Freeman

Former LSU head coach Ed Orgeron takes in Notre Dame spring football practice on Tuesday, April 12, 2021.
Former LSU head coach Ed Orgeron takes in Notre Dame spring football practice on Tuesday, April 12, 2021. (Jeff Douglas, Inside ND Sports)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Less than three years removed from winning a national title at LSU and just months after being mutually purged, 60-year-old Ed Orgeron showed up at a Notre Dame football practice on Tuesday.

With head coach Marcus Freeman’s blessing. With no official business to take care of. And with advice for Freeman from his own experience as a first-year head coach with Ole Miss that started and ended badly.

“Don’t try to do everything. I tried to do everything at Ole Miss,” said Orgeron, 10-25 with the Rebels from 2005-07. “You can’t do it. Hire your staff, believe in them, let them do it.

“Let the players know that you really care about them. Offense, defense, special teams — get close to all of them. And I see him doing that.”

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Orgeron is committed to taking the year off, he said, then re-evaluating his options. Sons Parker Orgeron (analyst at Louisiana-Lafayette), Cody Orgeron (offensive intern at the University of Miami) and Tyler Spotts-Orgeron (most recently an offensive analyst at LSU) are along for a weeklong stay in South Bend.

“I interviewed Marcus at LSU, and really, really respect him,” Orgeron said. “I wanted to come up here. I have three sons coaching, and wanted to show them what Notre Dame was, be around. You know it’s the first time I get to come in and enjoy being around campus.”

Orgeron’s first time coaching in Notre Dame Stadium was 1988, as the defensive line coach of the Miami Hurricanes. The Irish, under Lou Holtz, upended No. 1 Miami that year, 31-30, on their way to claiming the national title.

Since then Oregeron has coached against the Irish in South Bend as a USC assistant in two tours of duty and as the Trojans’ interim head coach in 2013.

“We’re just here to have a good time,” he said. “It’s fun to be up here.”

Orgeron was LSU’s head coach from 2016-21, the first of those seasons with an interim tag after Les Miles was fired in season. Orgeron’s 2019 Tigers went 15-0 and won the national title. But LSU went a combined 11-11 in the two seasons thereafter, and Orgeron and the school mutually parted ways.

Before his final season, Orgeron tried to hire Freeman away from Cincinnati to be his defensive coordinator. Brian Kelly at Notre Dame wanted him too, and Freeman took the offer to coach the Irish defense.

Less than a year later, Kelly opted to leave Notre Dame to become Orgeron’s successor at LSU, and Freeman was promoted to be Kelly’s replacement.

“First of all, I watched his defenses play at Cincinnati,” Oregon said of Freeman during the interview process. “Phenomenal. Energy. The way they got after it. The way he had energy on the sideline. That’s just the way I like to coach.

“When I met him, there was just something about him. Character. Class. You could tell he was going to be a championship coach. I think he has all the makings of being a great coach.”

Orgeron addressed the Irish team after practice Tuesday and got a rousing ovation from the players.

“Outstanding practice,” Orgeron said. “You know I walked down and heard the offensive line coach (Harry Hiestand) getting after it early in the morning. I like that.

“To be able to see the physicality they have here. I think that Marcus is going to bring a tremendous program here, and they already have great players. And he’s a tremendous recruiter.

“I think the sky’s the limit for him.”

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