Monday, October 17, 2016

Populist football

There are a lot of compelling aspects to the DACOACHO storyline taking place in Baton Rouge this year. There's the obvious hometown boy facet. There's the improbable coincidence of Orgeron finding himself in the same situation at LSU he once was in at USC.  But the best story is probably the "second chance" narrative about a man who has gotten his break once and failed coming back a little wiser this time.

Specifically, Orgeron's story is about learning to be less of a dick.
At USC, he would do simple things like cater Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles for his players and have people like Dr. Dre and Ray Lewis talk to the team. He gave hand-written notes to every member of the USC band, thanking them for what they do.
Trojans safety Dion Bailey spoke in 2013 about how refreshing Orgeron was:
He really emphasized that this time around being a head coach he wants to do it the right way, he really learned a lot from his time at Ole Miss, he asked us our input about a lot of things on the team, and he really inputted our input into the schedules and event-planning, things like that. He's always looking out for what's better for us, what makes us comfortable, taking care of our bodies. That really made us appreciate him, and from then on, guys have been behind Coach O and would run through a brick wall for him.
At LSU, he’s using those same practices.

“Let ’em have their cell phones and headsets,” Orgeron said in a recent interview with SB Nation. “Let ’em dress the way they want! Let ’em be who they are, as long as it’s respectful. Don’t put shackles on them. And I know it works. I know it works. I had kids at USC hugging me, crying, when I left. Begging me, ‘Don’t leave.’"

In that same interview, he added that part of being both a good and impactful head coach starts with showing players that you actually care about them.

“Before, I didn’t let them know I cared. I was the D-line coach. You can’t coach a receiver like a D-lineman. I just realized, here are some of the things I’ve got to change. I started writing, and I came to a realization: If I treat these boys like I treat my sons, I think we’re gonna be fine. How do you treat your kids? When my boys come home, I cook ’em a steak.

“That’s my motto now: Treat ’em like you would your sons. And hey, I’m Cajun. We eat a lot."
There you go, Coach. Give the people what they want. A steak in every pot.. or something like that. We can get behind that. 

With this going on at LSU and the Saints seeming like they're at least going to be interesting to watch as they struggle to 7-9 or thereabouts, football season is suddenly looking fun again. 

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