Back in January, the LSU football program hired a new defensive coordinator in Daronte Jones. With one look at the Tigers’ arduous DC coaching search, it’s pretty clear that the former NFL assistant wasn’t the team’s first choice.
Head coach Ed Orgeron made that fact abundantly apparent with some self-deprecating humor during a press conference on Tuesday.
“Daronte was like the fourth or fifth choice, but who cares? So was I,” Coach O said.
Ed Orgeron on his hiring of defensive coordinator Daronte Jones: “Daronte was like the fourth or fifth choice, but who cares? So was I.” #LSU
— Brooks Kubena (@BKubena) March 23, 2021
Following just one season in Baton Rouge, newly-hired defensive coordinator Bo Pelini left the program after the 2020 season. And so began the long, windy road to a new DC.
Soon after Pelini left, LSU began interviewing former Cincinnati defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman. For a while it looked as though Freeman would be the new guy. But, he ultimately elected to take the DC position at Notre Dame.
Just two weeks later, the Tigers then moved on to pursuing New Orleans Saints linebackers coach Ryan Nielson. But again, that trail ended when Nielson accepted a promotion to assistant head coach under Sean Payton.
After a couple more failed attempts, the program finally made their hire.
Jones has both collegiate and professional coaching experience, serving stints as a defensive coach for Hawaii and Wisconsin before taking NFL assistant positions with the Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals and most recently the Minnesota Vikings (DB coach in 2020).
Like Jones, Orgeron was pretty far down the list when it came to hiring priority.
After Les Miles was fired from LSU in 2016, Coach O (former defensive line coach) took over as interim head coach for the remainder of the season — leading the team to a 5-2 finish.
Despite his success, the program looked into plenty of other options for the high profile coaching job before the 2017 season. Among those names were Houston’s Tom Herman and Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher. When neither of these options worked out, Orgeron got his shot at the head coaching job he’d always dreamed of.
“There was never a day where I felt like I wouldn’t have a chance to get this job,” Orgeron said, per ESPN. “And that’s all I wanted.”
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