One of the best jobs in the country is opening. LSU, just two years removed from winning a national championship and going a perfect 15-0, is moving on from Ed Orgeron after the season, it was announced.
There will be a number of big names tied to this attractive job, topped by Jimbo Fisher — LSU AD Scott Woodward was in charge at Texas A&M when the Aggies lured Fisher from Florida State — and including Luke Fickell, James Franklin and maybe even Urban Meyer. The guy LSU should focus on it will see on Saturday: Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin.
He’s still somewhat young at 46, he’s a stellar recruiter, an innovative offensive mind who has improved as a coach and he knows all about Nick Saban, the man the Tigers so desperately want to beat, having worked for him.
Kiffin obviously comes with a history of controversy. He had brief stints as the head of the Raiders and at Tennessee. At USC, he was 28-15 and didn’t make it through his fourth season out West.
His colorful personality has at times gotten him in trouble. He once accused Meyer of cheating to land a recruit and called the last school he worked for, Florida Atlantic, LSU — as in Last Strike U after hiring former Baylor assistant coach Kendal Briles. Briles was the offensive coordinator at the Big 12 school under his father Art, who was fired in the wake of Baylor’s rash of sexual assault cases under his watch.
They’re still mad with him for leaving after one year at Tennessee. Following Ole Miss’ 31-26 victory in his return to Neyland Stadium, fans threw objects on the field, including a golf ball.
“There were a number of bottles with some brown stuff in them,” Kiffin joked afterwards. “I’m not sure what it was. It probably wasn’t moonshine. They probably wouldn’t waste moonshine on me.”
Following his time at Alabama under Saban as his offensive coordinator, in which he helped modernize the Crimson Tide offense, Kiffin has found himself as a coach. He led Florida Atlantic to a pair of double-digit win seasons in three years. He did well in his first season at Ole Miss and has the Rebels among the better teams in the country this year, eyeing just their second 10-win campaign in 18 years. His 2021 recruiting class is ranked 17th in the country according to 247Sports.com.
After an ugly loss at Alabama on Oct. 2, Ole Miss has responded with victories over Arkansas and Tennessee, and has the inside track at finishing second in the SEC West with a manageable schedule the rest of the way. Under Kiffin’s tutelage, quarterback Matt Corral has blossomed into a Heisman Trophy candidate and likely high NFL draft pick. He’s a coach on the rise, only getting better.
LSU will no doubt cast a wide net. It is certain to get some very intriguing candidates. Nobody will be better than Kiffin. Instead of dodging golf balls and bottles, he could get beads thrown at him one day in the Bayou.
East of burden
It will come down to the Big Ten East again if the league is going to produce a playoff team. That became obvious when Iowa, the softest second-ranked team in recent memory, was outclassed at home by two-loss Purdue on Saturday in a one-sided 24-7 loss.
The Hawkeyes were only undefeated leading up to this game because Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford sustained an injury the previous week with the Nittany Lions ahead. Iowa had gotten by on turnover differential — it was plus-15, making up for a dormant offense — and finally that luck ran out.
All attention now turns to the Big Ten East, where Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State (granted Clifford can return soon) are all contenders and have yet to play one another.
Orange ya sad
Syracuse won 10 games in 2018, nearly upset eventual national champion Clemson on the road and won a bowl game to finish ranked 15th in the nation. It seemed to have finally found a coach. Three years later, it may need a new one. Nothing has gone right since that impressive campaign. The Orange has lost 21 of 30 games since and 12 of its past 13 games in the weak ACC.
It is 0-3 in the power conference league in name only this year after Dino Babers played for a long field goal in the final seconds of a narrow loss to diminished Clemson, a coaching not-to-lose move that backfired. He is under contract through 2023. At this rate, though, he may not last that long. The program is going backward under his watch.
The Post’s top 10
1. Georgia (7-0) (Last week: 1)
It was news that Georgia allowed a first half touchdown in an otherwise ho-hum victory over Kentucky. That’s how dominant this defense, allowing a microscopic 6.6 points per game, has become.
2. Cincinnati (6-0) (2)
The Bearcats may have two tests left: Undefeated SMU on Nov. 20 and potentially Houston in the American title game. Otherwise, Cincinnati needs to punish the rest of its underwhelming conference like it did against UCF on Saturday to impress the playoff committee.
3. Alabama (6-1) (4)
Alabama looked like Alabama again, shaking off the loss to Texas A&M with a 40-point smackdown of Mississippi State in which it piled up 543 yards of offense and held the Bulldogs to minus-1 yards on the ground.
4. Oklahoma (7-0) (5)
Lincoln Riley forgets more football in a day than most of us know, but how did it take him so long to go to Caleb Williams? The freshman looked like a superstar, producing 361 total yards and five touchdowns, in his first start.
5. Ohio State (5-1) (6)
The Buckeyes’ schedule is brutal the rest of the way, facing Penn State, Michigan and Michigan State. But if the last two games are an indication, blowouts of Rutgers and Maryland, Ohio State is just hitting its stride.
6. Penn State (5-1) (7)
Quarterback Sean Clifford’s health status is uncertain after taking a big hit against Iowa in the midsection. With him, Penn State can win out and reach the playoff. Without him, this once-promising season can go in the wrong direction. Nothing else matters for the Nittany Lions.
7. Michigan (6-0) (9)
Pedestrian Northwestern comes to Ann Arbor a week before the massive showdown at Michigan State. This has trap game written all over it.
8. Michigan State (7-0) (10)
The Spartans are 7-0 for the first time since 2015 — the year they reached the playoff — after narrowly getting past Indiana.
9. Kentucky (6-1) (8)
Kentucky pushed Georgia for a half, which is more than anyone else can say this year. The Wildcats are as good as anyone in the SEC other than the two division leaders, Georgia and Alabama.
10. Oklahoma State (6-0) (NR)
Picture this: Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both enter Bedlam undefeated and firmly in the playoff mix. It would be absolute chaos.
Dropped out: Iowa (6-1)
(in alphabetical order)
QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Corral ran for more yards than most teams do in a week — producing 195 yards on 30 carries — and also threw for two scores in a wild win at Tennessee to continue to build an impressive Heisman resume.
QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Ridder was relatively quiet in a blowout of UCF, notching just one touchdown and 140 passing yards. He’ll need to start stat-padding soon.
RB Kenneth Walker III, Michigan State
The nation’s leading rusher will now get a two-week break, and he could use it. He already has a career-high 152 carries, a number that may get close to 300.
QB C.J. Stroud, Ohio State
The freshman will have the stage to prove he deserves to be a Heisman finalist, starting in two weeks against Penn State in Columbus.
QB Bryce Young, Alabama
This was a Heisman-caliber performance for the sophomore: 20-of-28 for 348 yards and four touchdowns.