Before He Was a State Hero, Ed Orgeron Almost Got Kicked off His College Football Team

"You know, we learn. We mature. That's why we need coaches."

Ed Orgeron wasn’t always a hero, and he certainly wasn’t always a role model.

In fact, long before he was LSU’s beloved head football coach from 2016 to 2021, he nearly got kicked off his college football team and threw away his future in the process.

Bébé, as he’s also known, quit LSU as a freshman and eventually ended up at Northwestern State (NWS) in Natchitoches. By his junior year in 1982, USA Today reports that he had “earned a reputation as a hell-raising, curfew-busting barroom brawler.”

LSU Ed Orgeron
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After Orgeron and his roommate Bryan Arceneaux, another Cajun from South Louisiana, were accused of trashing a dorm room, the school’s new football coach seriously considered kicking them both off the team.

“Every piece of furniture in there was broke. Just a total disaster,” coach Sam Goodwin recalled to USA Today. “[The housing director] told me two of my players did all that, and it wasn’t the first time they had done it.”

What happened next changed the trajectory of Orgeron’s life and adds yet another layer to the legend of Coach O.

Goodwin gave them both a second chance.

Without that second chance, Orgeron says he doesn’t know how his life would have turned out. He certainly wouldn’t have started his football coaching career like he did with NWS the year he graduated.

“Everybody deserves a second chance,” he told USA Today a few days before the Tigers cinched the National Championship title in New Orleans. “You know, we learn. We mature. That’s why we need coaches.”

But he acknowledges that he crossed a line with Goodwin.

“He brought me in and said, `Don’t cross it again,” Orgeron recalled. “Guess what? I didn’t. So, I’m very appreciative of that, and I’m very appreciative of him drawing the line and make me do the right thing. That taught me that I needed it right there.”

That’s not to say that Coach O straightened up immediately. But, after a few run-ins with the law, he married his wife Kelly in 1997, had three sons, and stayed sober.

And now, more than 30 years after a trashed dorm room nearly cost him his future, Ed Orgeron is a bona fide Louisiana legend. But, in a lot of ways, his journey is even more inspirational than his coaching talents.

“He’s shown how people can change their lives,” Arceneaux told USA Today. “And he pulled the state together like no one’s ever done.”

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