LSU’s Ed Orgeron joins Auburn’s Gene Chizik, other coaches to be fired after championship seasons

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Ed Orgeron joined an unlucky club on Sunday as news broke that he and LSU reached an agreement to part ways following the 2021 college football season. The program’s decision to move on from Coach O comes two years after he led the Tigers to the 2019 College Football Playoff championship.

That LSU would move on from Orgeron is surprising — but not unprecedented, even in the time between his title and the Tigers’ decision to move on from the embattled coach. Though Orgeron isn’t technically fired, he is now one of several coaches — including his predecessor, Les Miles, and former Auburn coach Gene Chizik — whose tenures have ended prematurely after winning a championship.

MORE: Why did LSU fire Ed Orgeron?

Indeed, reports suggest Orgeron’s championship team — which ranks as one of the best of all time — was partly responsible for his downfall in Baton Rouge. The Athletic reports the sixth-year coach “lost track of who he was” following the 15-0 campaign, leading him to forgo the practices that made him a successful coach in the first place.

With that, Sporting News takes a look at the coaches whose tenures ended in firing after previously winning a national title:

Gene Chizik (Auburn)

Championship season: 2010 (14-0)
Year fired: 2012 (3-9)
Final record: 33-19

Chizik didn’t last long following his 2010 championship season, headlined by Heisman Trophy winner and future No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton. The Tigers went 8-5 the following season, but fell hard in 2012, going 3-9 and getting hammered by rivals LSU, Georgia and Alabama by a combined score of 99-10. The final straw was the Crimson Tide’s 49-0 romp over the Tigers in the Iron Bowl.

Though LSU’s decision to move on from Orgeron was made sooner (at least publicly), Chizik still holds the record for shortest time between a championship season and his firing: 686 days, which equates to one year, 10 months and 16 days. That’s due to Auburn’s 3-9 record in 2012, which kept the Tigers from bowl eligibility for the first time since 2008.

LSU’s 2021 regular season ends on Nov. 27, 2021, which is 685 days removed from Orgeron’s championship season — a distinction he likely doesn’t want to take from Chizik. LSU (4-3, 2-2 in SEC play) needs only two more wins to remain bowl eligible this season, which would extend Orgeron’s stay in Baton Rouge at least two more weeks. That said, it’s not certain whether he would be allowed to coach the bowl game.

Les Miles (LSU)

Championship season: 2007 (12-2)
Year fired: 2016 (2-2)
Final record: 114-34

Orgeron is LSU’s second straight coach to get fired after winning a championship. The first was Miles, whose 2007 Tigers team is the first and only team in the modern college football era to win a championship with two losses. Miles came close to winning another title four years later, but was blanked 21-0 by Alabama in the 2012 BCS championship game in New Orleans after beating the Crimson Tide 9-6 in the regular season.

Miles went 10-3 in 2012 and ’13, respectively, but never again sniffed a championship. He went 8-5 and 9-4 in 2014 and ’15, respectively, but burned a significant amount of goodwill for his inability to beat Alabama coach Nick Saban following the 2011 season. After his team started 2-2 in 2016 with a loss to Auburn, LSU made the decision to fire him and place Orgeron as the program’s interim coach.

MORE: LSU’s 11 best coaching candidates to replace Ed Orgeron

Phillip Fulmer

Championship season: 1998 (13-0)
Year retired: 2008 (5-7)
Final record: 151-52-1

Fulmer’s 1998 squad won the first BCS championship in college football history, even after Peyton Manning left school early to become the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft. Fulmer’s Volunteers remained competitive following the championship season, only twice falling below .500 from 1999 through his firing in 2008. He also led Tennessee to four double-digit win seasons in 2001, 2003-04 and 2007, seasons in which his team won the SEC East division championship.

Like so many SEC coaches, Fulmer’s firing coincided with the arrival of Saban at Alabama. The Crimson Tide beat Fulmer’s Vols in three of his final four seasons in 2005 and 2007-08. Saban’s Alabama team beat Fulmer head to head in both their matchups: 41-17 in 2007 and 29-9 in 2008. That record, compiled with Fulmer’s 5-7 record in 2008, led to Fulmer stepping down, 10 seasons removed from his championship.

Larry Coker

Championship season: 2001 (12-0)
Year fired: 2006 (7-6)
Final record: 60-15

Coker’s career at Miami couldn’t have started better: He inherited Butch Davis’ uber-talented Hurricanes squad, which went 11-1 the year prior and finished the season ranked ranked second in the country. The 2001 had no problem running the table, going 12-0 en route to the Hurricanes’ first national championship since 1991. Miami came desperately close to repeating in 2002, but lost to Ohio State in a controversial overtime finish, keeping the Hurricanes from the pinnacle of college football.

Coker was able to rely on the talent he had inherited for another good season in 2003, one in which his team went 11-2 but lost to No. 10 Tennessee and No. 18 Virginia Tech. Coker did not win double-digit games again, going 9-3 in 2004 and ’05. He was fired the day Miami beat Boston College to salvage a 6-6 record, though the Hurricanes allowed him to coach the Hurricanes to a 21-20 win over Nevada in the MPC Computers Bowl — a far cry from the national title aspirations of the program.

MORE: College football polls: Updated AP Top 25, Coaches Poll rankings after Week 7

Woody Hayes

Championship seasons: 1954 (10-0), 1957 (9-1), 1968 (10-0)*
Year fired: 1978 (7-4-1)
Final record: 205-61-10
Championships voted on by either AP Top 25 or Coaches Poll

Unlike others on this list, you can pinpoint the exact moment Hayes’ tenure ended at Ohio State: It came when he punched Clemson player Charlie Bauman in the 1978 Gator Bowl in what ended up being a 17-15 loss for Hayes’ Buckeyes.

The following day, Ohio State announced Hayes’ firing. Had he not assaulted an opposing player, it’s likely he would have remained on at Ohio State for as long as he would have liked. After all, he had three championships awarded by either the AP or Coaches polls, and two more awarded by the FWAA. As it stands, his tenure ended 10 seasons after his last Associated Press championship in 1968.





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