LSU paid big money to snag Matt Canada from Pittsburgh to be Ed Orgeron’s offensive coordinator. Now it appears that arrangement will last just one season.
The Daily Advertiser and The Advocate both reported Wednesday that the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 will be his last game at LSU. Per The Advocate, there have been contract “settlement” discussions with “Canada’s representatives” while both outlets say Steve Ensminger, an assistant at LSU (mostly as tight ends coach) since 2010, has been tabbed as a potential replacement.
Canada was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach, during his lone season at Pitt. When Orgeron had his interim tag lifted and was named Tigers head coach, he swooped in and hired Canada. The school gave him the most lucrative offensive coordinator contract in college football at $1.5 million annually, but the Tigers never quite adapted to Canada’s style.
Canada’s offense is known for a lot of shifts and side-to-side motion, including a lot of jet sweeps. It was hugely successful at Pitt, but Orgeron evidently never quite took to it. After the regular season finale on Nov. 25, Orgeron said if Canada got a head-coaching job that he would not use Canada’s offense moving forward.
Both the Daily Advertiser and Advocate are reporting that there has been friction between Orgeron and Canada dating back to the loss to Troy on Sept. 30. Orgeron admitted he directed the offense not to use the pre-snap motions in the first half. That led to a meeting between Orgeron, Canada, defensive coordinator Dave Aranda and athletic director Joe Alleva.
Per the Daily Advertiser, Orgeron and Canada had “personality clashes” and players heard Canada say “it’s not my offense” at practice.
Despite the apparent tension, LSU’s offense did show some improvement with Canada. The Tigers’ anemic passing attack jumped from No. 101 to No. 85 nationally in passing offense though the total offense dropped from 423.1 yards per game to 412.1. The Tigers struggled in the red zone, scoring points on just 78.4 percent of red zone possessions — a figure that ranked No. 100 nationally.
If Ensminger is the choice to replace Canada, he’s somebody Orgeron is very familiar with. Ensminger ran the offense during Orgeron’s time as interim head coach in 2016. The two have known each other dating back to 1985. From the Daily Advertiser:
Orgeron and Ensminger, a Baton Rouge native and an LSU quarterback from 1976-79, have been friends since 1985 at McNeese State when Orgeron was a graduate assistant and Ensminger was in his first job as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Ensminger, 59, later became offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Louisiana Tech (1988-90), at Texas A&M (1994-96) and at Clemson (1997-98) with a stint as quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at Georgia from 1991-93. He was head coach at Central High outside Baton Rouge in 2000 and 2001 and wide receivers coach at West Monroe in 2002 before coaching quarterbacks at Auburn in 2003 and tight ends at Auburn from 2004-08. He has been LSU’s tight ends coach since 2010.
But before Canada ordeal can potentially come to fruition, the 16th-ranked Tigers (9-3) will face No. 14 Notre Dame (9-3) on Monday in Orlando.
– – – – – – –