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Jon’s Postlife Crisis: Billy Gomila - About The LSU Tigers!

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Heisman Trophy Presentation Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

Have you ever been to Baton Rouge? What about New Orleans?

Man... I worked down there a lot for a while. I love that place.

I spoke with Billy Gomila from our SBNation LSU site AndTheValleyShook.com to talk about the LSU Tigers.

We talk about:

  • Coach Ed Orgeron’s amazing life
  • Joe Burrow (of course)
  • Fear of Oklahoma
  • What changed that made LSU a national championship contender

It might be fun!

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About the Transcript

Keep in mind that the following is a transcript. . I use a service that automates the first draft. As much as “artificial intelligence” is included in the description of every bit of technology these days, it’s clear that computers understanding human speech is more artificial than intelligent. The transcript has been edited to take out human speech bites, you know, um, okay, uh, but it’s not been edited to be an “article”.

Transcript

Jon Johnston 0:20 Welcome to Jon’s Postlife Crisis. I am your host Jon Johnston, founder of CornNation.com, your Nebraska Cornhuskers site of not terrific fun right now because we’re not in a bowl game. But this episode we are talking to somebody whose team is in a big bowl game. Billy Camila, managing editor of the SB Nation LSU site AndTheValleyShook.com. As you know, LSU is one of the four teams selected for the college football playoff, Billy, how you doing today?

Billy Gomila 1:00

Doing well on our way to work this morning.

Jon Johnston 1:04 So “And The Valley Shook”, could you explain the meaning of the website name before we get into your team?

Billy Gomila 1:11

Sure. Well, it’s an old it’s a reference to it to a legendary game and LSU history were from the 1980s known as the earthquake game where Tommy Houghton hit Eddie fuller to beat a top 10 Auburn team. I think it was on the fourth down or it was the last second I forget which one but the stadium roared so loud that a seismograph on campus started twitching and registered to register Tiger Stadium as a small earthquake. So ever since then, you know, it’s been one of those legends those great stories of Tiger Stadium more and I didn’t come up with a name for the site originally, but it was before my time but you know, it’s always it’s always got a fit.

Jon Johnston 1:57 Well, I came up with Corn Nation. I been around for a while, but if I leave, somebody else is going to get stuck with that name. So it literally means nothing except stupidity.

Before we get into your team this year, let’s talk about Ed Orgeron. He’s a guy who started at Ole Miss as the head coach. It was a disaster. It was chronicled in Bruce Feldman’s book, the Meat Market. He got fired at Ole Miss. Ended up at USC. Lane Kiffin is fired. He’s taken over as the interim head coach. They pass him over because he just had too much baggage left over from Ole Miss. And really that kind of personality probably wouldn’t have fit at USC anyway. He goes to LSU, Les Miles is fired. He gets his his shot at being the head coach at LSU. What did you think when Les Miles was fired, and he (Orgeron) was the interim Coach, what did you think about Ed Orgeron?

Billy Gomila 3:07

Well, because we were coming off the time at USC and I remember, you know, when things are going really well at USC sitting and talking to a friend who is now actually a support staff person for Orgeron, whose got to be very good friends with him. They really should just hired Orgeron, I mean, what’s the worst that could happen even if he’s even if this interim things a mirage, and he goes immediately back at behaving like he did at Ole Miss. He’ll recruit really well, and the guy that comes in behind him will be set up and you can do a lot worse than that. And of course, we both kind of like Yeah, but they’re not gonna do that. There’s no way and then we even laugh when they hired Sarkisian. We’re like, okay, well, if you could hire Steve Sarkisian you should just hired Orgeron.

And so he ends up here, you know, and then as Les Miles era started to unravel and all the signs are pointing towards Jimbo Fisher and I was never a huge Jimbo Fisher fan partially just because it was one of those things where it just Okay, yeah, that’s fine. He’s the, I guess, the most qualified candidate. It’s just kind of boring and we’re going to make him, we’re gonna have to make him the highest paid coach and I don’t think he’s worth that. I don’t think he’s better than Nick Saban. Why are we going to spend more money than Nick Saban for somebody who’s not going to beat him? Etc.

And, Miles hold on for a year. And the funny thing was at that time, I said, I mean, all things considered. I don’t know who else they’re looking at, but they should consider just giving Ed a run and see what he does. So then Miles gets fired, Ed gets the interim job and immediately I was like, look, if he shows he can turn this thing around, because things look pretty bad at that point. You know, preseason, top five team already had two losses in September. This offense is scraping the bottom of the barrel with almost everybody back from the 2015 offense - it was very limited throwing the ball had the best running back in the country and one of the best running games in the country that year. So it shouldn’t have been that bad and very quickly, we saw things got better almost instantly under Orgeron and Stevens Ensminger they just kind of they changed the quarterbacks and they did a few things differently but obviously you can’t just take a whole new playbook in one year but all sudden LSU started playing like a top 10 caliber team for most of that run. And we can say kidding, it becomes relayed to me through back channels that okay yeah, they’re they’re still talking to Fisher but he’s maybe not the guy that they that they really really want. They’re just talking to them because of you know, some power brokers really want him.

They lose the Florida on the last second play in a really kind of a crazy flukey game, a lot of turnovers and craziness. And we think Okay, that was it. He had to win that game to keep the job and at least, you know, I think that would have put him at 7-1 that interim year. So he’s not going to are there would have been, it would have been it was the second loss of he had as the interim. So we’re like, Okay, this is that was it, probably going to be in Jimbo Fisher, whatever, you know, we were just kind of resigned to it. And then that week, LSU goes to A&M and just dog beats the heck out of them. And that night it comes out that okay, LSU, she’s talked to Tom Herman and they basically got a deal in place.

Okay, well, Tom Herman. That’s an interesting hire. I wasn’t completely sold on him, but I would have been fine with it. And then, of course, Tom Herman’s camp sends up a giant signal flare to Texas that Hey, you guys, you guys really want it you’re going to do something here and they fired Charlie Strong. Tom Herman blows off LSU for the job, and Ed was basically the next guy on the list and he had done just well enough for them to be able to sell things and he kind of pitched his plan for Okay, I’m going to keep Dave Aranda. I’m going to hire some other really good coordinators and have the best staff and recruit like crazy and you know, we’re going to do this thing and ours is more or less what he did you know, that is involved Lane Kiffin, oddly enough and Lane Kiffin gets a head coaching job, so they try the Matt Canada experiment, that kind of blows up but ever since then, he’s pretty much done what he said he was going to do and it’s been really fun to watch.

It’s great to see a guy who, when you really look at Orgeron’s career, it’s a testament to kind of falling down and picking yourself back up and both in his personal life and he had he had his issues with, you know, some, some tusslin’ up in the bars when he was younger in Miami and he’s kind of overcome all that. He’s married and got his kids and, you know, his wife is a very nice lady and everything has been said, and he very much showed and you picked up on this one at USC that, okay, he basically realized I have to do everything exactly the opposite of how I did it at Ole Miss. And to me, what that really spoke to me is something that we just don’t see with a lot of coaches anymore is that they realize when they fail, okay, I’ve got to do something completely different here. Let’s do that. And, you know, I saw the show that at USC, and he’s shown that here at LC.

Jon Johnston 8:38 I think his story is amazing, because I reviewed Meat Market when it came out. And then I interviewed Bruce Feldman about it and for a man, you know, I mean, even as people who aren’t coaches and we get to be, I’m 57 years old, now I’m old and crusty. And I mean, when you get to that point, you look at yourself and you go, you know, maybe I should change some things about myself. There’s not a lot of people that do that. There just aren’t... we all tend to just go well, the rest of the world has a problem, I don’t have a problem. So to look at his trajectory has been amazing. I want to say that I’m rooting for LSU. But I’m not going to say that. I talked to the Ohio State guy yesterday, and I really like Ohio State, even though I’m in the big 10 conference and they stomp the crap out of my team. I like their team. I haven’t gotten to see LSU play a lot this this year. Other than Joe Burrow and we’ll get to him in a minute. Tell me about the rest of the LSU team. Why this year? Why is so explosive? What’s made them so good?

Billy Gomila 9:47

Going into this year, I was confident that the offense would be improved because it was returning just about everybody from the year before and last year, it was kind of everybody talked about the same old same old and it was and that was true to an extent but they were also completely just breaking in everybody was new new offensive lineman the quarterback who would just arrived that summer you know, young receiving corps new running backs and kind of some of the least heralded running backs in terms of recruiting rankings that LSU had in a while you know going from Leonard Fournette and various guys to to Nick Brosette and then Clyde Edwards-Helaire. So I was pretty confident coming back. Okay, well, they’re going to be better you know, we’ll see how how this all this talk of a new of a new scheme translates but just on experience they ought to be they ought to be better. So we see in the spring game that okay, they spent the whole game in the shotgun with no huddle. That’s definitely different. That’s we’ve never seen that before from LSU.

Then it’s really kind of all come together perfectly in terms of what they brought in Joe Brady, who was a Joe Morehead guy who was with him at Penn State and then went from there and spent some time with the New Orleans Saints and he and Steve Ensminger got to know each other because when Steve Ensminger ascended to LSU’s offensive coordinator spot he leaned on guys he knew especially in the NFL ranks who you know we’re good offensive coaches. He was good friends with Doug Peterson at the Eagles he you know, he knew guys on Sean Payton staff so he went and met with him and he met Joe Joe Brady, who’s just now 30 years old, so young, offensive assistant probably not even making that much money. And they kind of hit it off and so when it came time to make to make another staff addition, he goes to Ed and says, Hey, I think we should hire Joe and then Joe says, Okay, well, we can we can bring in you guys say you want to spread this thing out and run more spread offense. I can, I can help you guys do that. And so it’s funny, the talk about we’re running the New Orleans Saints offense. It’s really more kind of the Joe Morehead Penn State offense with a little bit of flavor from the Saints. And it’s worked perfectly with, you know, you get a fifth year senior quarterback who is in graduate courses. So he has time to kind of just be a film junkie and really work to develop themselves.

You had a group of receivers that were all very highly recruited, that are kind of ascending all at the right time and kind of putting it together. It’s Ja’Marr Chase, who won the Biletnikoff Award this year for the best receiver, putting up to huge numbers. He was a big time recruit. And everybody kind of felt confident that he was ready to make that next step and he’s gone gangbusters. And then you have Clyde Edwards-Helaire who is not the traditional LSU back that we’ve been used to as far as being, he’s not that 220 pound. You know, bruiser, like a Leonard Fournette but he’s a better fit for this kind of offense because he’s more that scatback who you can get in space and you can throw the ball to and he can do some things. Unfortunately, we just found out this week that he’s got a hamstring injury that’s probably going to take him out of the Peach Bowl against Oklahoma. And that’s, that’s a big injury for LSU. Because he’s really been kind of a safety blanket and been a constant for the offense. They’ve been able to leave him out on the field, almost the whole game and really not have to sub a lot which has allowed them to really, you know, run the no huddle tempo and go fast at times.

Jon Johnston 13:27 Joe Burrow, I mean Nebraskans know him well, because there’s the line that he wanted to go to Nebraska and nobody recruited him and he was told he wasn’t good enough or stuff like that. And the entire state is like very, very angry about our own program. We’re already bitter about where we’re at. He came in (to LSU) and he just he exploded. I mean, since I’m in the big 10. I’ve watched Justin Fields a lot more and I thought Justin Fields when I first saw him, I thought this guy is winning the Heisman Trophy. And then Joe Burrow comes in, and he walks away with the Heisman Trophy. In the biggest what was the biggest landslide vote in history.

Billy Gomila 14:09

And the highest percentage? I think the first place was the biggest margin since OJ Simpson back in the 60s.

Jon Johnston 14:16 How did he just show up and in one year he’s an explosion? I mean, just the right time, the right place the right offense, or what?

Faux Pelini 14:26

Yeah, kind of all the above. You know, his first year was up and down. That kind of struggled early, but even in his struggles, you know, I joked about this before on other podcasts. He had this knack for playing a game that you would see your eyes without knowing his stats. You think he played Okay. And then you look at it well, he was under 50% for his completions for the day but he would, he would he wouldn’t turn the ball over. He would be always have just made the right decision. And sometimes that was throwing it away, sometimes that was just taking a sack because that was better than then putting the ball up for grabs and scrambling. He can run a little bit, he’s no runner like Justin fields or Jalen Hurts but a guy who could move around and get by himself some time and pick up a first down every now and then. And you saw the signs that okay, he could be better. I didn’t think he could be this and then of course it got hot down the stretch. He has the big game against A&M, starts carving up some some bad teams, but, you know, earlier in the year, he wasn’t even carving a bad team. So that was still an improvement. And then he lights up Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl and so you feel pretty good that he’s at least going to be okay. He may not be a world beater, but he’s pretty good.

Billy Gomila 15:40 It turns out that in this offense with these receivers, he’s really stepped up his game and the biggest thing is he’s just he’s always in kind of command and control. He makes the right decision whether that’s checking it down, whether that’s okay, I got one on one. Putting on putting this ball up or okay I’m going to scramble a little bit or I’m going to run, whatever kind of needs to be done. He’s done it so far and that’s what was really has made this offense so hard to stop because they’ve been able to at different times in the year if a defense is going to say, keep the safety back and okay we’re gonna we’re going to take away the big play and we’re going to make you take 1012 plays to Dr. burrows been confident checking to the run or just throwing it short what you know kind of dig in and Duncan when teams roll the corners up and say okay, we’re coming we’re coming after you and your if you want to be this you’re gonna have to be the seat. He’s been able to do that and it’s created an offense that when it when they’re doing their thing, I don’t really know what there is any defense can do to stop it. Maybe someone like Ohio State with a chase young that can get after borough and get him on the ground without having to blitz too much We’ll have a shot Auburn Auburn was able to get to him summon and make a couple of big stops, but even then LSU still had 500 something yards on offense in that game. So it’s just been really really interesting to watch it evolve and watch it do different things at different times, you know?

Jon Johnston 17:19

Okay, let’s go to Oklahoma. The spread i think is up to 14 points now is what worries you about them. They’re missing three guys have their own, including I believe they’re starting running back. And one of the wide receivers you guys should crush Oklahoma.

Billy Gomila 17:42 Yes. Well, I don’t see Oklahoma stopping LSU losing Edwards Hilaire hurts because Carla do it all back for this team. And there there are other backs that you know, there’s some really talented freshmen that we that we really like in the future. But right now, You know by one with one guy do everything that were selected can do so if that means OU has to rotate on that that means they have to sub which then means defense conserve and they can’t quite one their tempo the way that they’ve been able to do at times this year so that could be a could be a problem but I don’t think Oklahoma’s defense as much of a shot. What worries me is Jalen Hurts it’s a guy that we’re pretty familiar with and saw him twice at Alabama’s starting quarterback and he never put up amazing numbers at LSU. But he was always able to make some big plays with his legs. And that’s been a bit of a problem for this LSU defense this year, you know, old this, I’ll be in the game where it was a 28 point game really quickly, was able to start ripping off some long runs with their quarterback who’s a little bit of a different player that hurts us a little more of a smaller, faster guy can really skate. But you know, Jalen hurts is also a lot bigger and stronger and tougher to deal with in the open field. So I’m a little worried that They can make it into a shootout and you know and those kind of games your offense can can have a great game but it only takes one or two mistakes maybe and you can’t quite keep pace so I’m a little worried about trying to deal with Oklahoma’s offense. I do think LSU defenses is getting healthier and you know, kind of came on down the stretch I think they they kind of tore up to all offenses that were better matchups in Oklahoma, Mike D but overall I think it fellas she’s often says what it does, I don’t think Oklahoma is going to be able to keep

Jon Johnston 19:34

Okay, I mentioned I talked to the Ohio State guy yesterday. He says that he feels that championship game is between Ohio State and Clemson that either there are those teams will beat LSU. Your response?

Faux Pelini 19:52 I mean, I’m not gonna say that they can I think either one of the top three of these teams are the car nothing this there’s a clear defined Top three year. I think LSU deserves to be number one based on its resume and who would be compared to Ohio State. And, you know, Ohio State’s got a good club. I’m not going to try and stand here and say that that LSU is going to run over them and that they can’t, they can’t win. But I like Ella, she’s chances to score a lot of points on just about anybody. Ohio State maybe has the best shot because of young to stop them. But they got to get through Clemson’s, kind of similar team to LSU in that, you know, good luck trying to keep pace with them. They’ve got a great quarterback. They’ve got great receivers and they’ve got a really good running back who’s actually a Louisiana kid that LSU missed on right at the tail end of the les miles era. And I’m thinking that the team that comes out of this this playoff, will will be able to stand on its resume is one of the better teams of all time because it’s going to have have either either Ohio State got a clubs in in LSU, or LA, she’s got to be beat Ohio State or Clemson. And that’s got to be the highest enter LSU. And that’s, that’s going to be a pretty, pretty tough gauntlet I think for any team. And if one of those teams thinks they’re gonna walk over the other two, I think that’s I think that’s crazy.

Jon Johnston 21:18

Wow, there’s I expected some smack talk there.

Faux Pelini 21:22 You know, I’m not a big smack talk person. And you know what we we had we given Ohio State their beat down before so you think they’d be with a team that they thought that they thought could play with LSU so you think they’d be a little wary of that after what happened in 2007. But, you know what, it’ll it’ll be a whole lot of fun. If it’s a house day, we’ve seen them before in the Superdome. And I’m just I’m just trying to enjoy the ride for LSU you know, it’s been a few years for us since we’ve been kind of here. It’s, I keep trying to tell people it’s like look for most of my life LSU was not that good. Start with probably a better program historically, that we get credit for. But for the 90s we were not very good. And since I’ve turned 18 This will now be LSU. This is LSU is possibly fourth national championship appearance with three different coaches and that’s a hell of a run. So I’m just trying to enjoy it and I didn’t expect this team I expected it to be good. I didn’t think they would be playoff quite playoff caliber. So I’m just enjoying the ride right now.

Jon Johnston 22:31

When is LSU last championship?

Faux Pelini 22:35 Last national championship was in 2007. course we played for 2011. And we got screwed over by having to play Alabama second time, even though they didn’t deserve to be in the game. And of course they beat us.

Jon Johnston 22:49

Okay, I’m assuming you’re going to be the Oklahoma and then you basically get a play what is a home game in New Orleans

Unknown Speaker 22:58 and I know I’m supposed to do that. Ireland’s which is crowd or down here does no one down there actually says it that way we just say the wallens

Jon Johnston 23:06

I actually spent I spent a fair amount of time in Louisiana and I by my living I am a IT consultant and I did a lot of work for Jefferson Parish. Up here. We call them school districts, but down there they’re parishes. But I worked with quite a few parishes in Louisiana, and I fell in love being in New Orleans. Well, I also realized that if I moved there, I’d be a 350 pound alcoholic within a year.

Billy Gomila 23:34 Yeah, but so

Jon Johnston 23:41

It’s a home game basically describe what you think New Orleans will be like.

Billy Gomila 23:46 It should be was it if if I think the schedule works, the way I think it does, it will actually be the same weekend the saintil play a home playoff game, most likely. I mean, I know they’re going to make the playoffs against. I’m not sure if that would be the wildcard of the divisional round or how that works out, but you know, it should be wild, it should be a week of partying. This team is definitely captured I think a lot of hearts and minds between oser on who there was there was a portion of the fan base that will reluctant on but there was definitely a lot of, I think kind of the average rank and file fan who doesn’t, you know, post on message boards or Twitter who really, really wants him to succeed and really wants him to do well. He’s even buddies with the governor at this point. So so it should, it should be a lot of fun. And I’m looking forward to see the SEMA I really honestly the Heisman Trophy was the cherry for me because it was, I knew I knew in my time at CLS you play for another national championship and possibly win one. I never thought I would see the trophy.

Jon Johnston 24:50

Wow. That’s all I got. Is there anything else you’d like to add that I might have missed?

Billy Gomila 24:57 You know, I’ll say this for Nebraska fans. I’m a college football fan in general and I’m always rooting for proud programs to try and get back and make a run and I hope y’all can be a little patient with Frost. I think he’s got he’s got some some good ideas going but it’s just it’s a it’s a tough road back for Nebraska right now and you just gotta try to be patient try, not to get too high or get too low and just let them keep building things because I’ll say this because I’ve seen this happen in a lot of other places. If you just keep turning over coaches and turn over coaches, you definitely never going to get the right guy.

Jon Johnston 25:38

I don’t disagree with that at all.

Billy Gomila 25:41 You got a chance to see what he can do and then after a couple of years then you evaluate.

Jon Johnston 25:49

I agree.

All right. That’s gonna be it for this episode with Billy Gomila some ends event Valley shook. Good luck with your championship hopes. I I’ll be rooting for LSU Ohio State. I never know who I’m going to actually root for until I sit down and the game starts and suddenly go, oh, I want that team to win.

Billy Gomila 26:14 That’s how I am with most bowl games. I usually don’t really have a rooting interest washed out and just gotta let the game kind of take me over.

Jon Johnston 26:22

There are games at which I you know, you have the meteor games which you hope a meteor hits the stadium. But you know, other than that. Okay, thank you CornNation.com people for listening to the podcast, please subscribe and give us more downloads. This will come out before Christmas. I still plan on doing the other two teams and those will probably not come out until after Christmas. So Merry Christmas, everyone. Go Big Red!

All right. There you go.