As if the $1.7 million buyout after one season weren’t enough proof already, LSU football coach Ed Orgeron acknowledged Monday that hiring current Maryland offensive coordinator Matt Canada was a “mistake.”
Orgeron and the well-traveled Canada, whom the Tigers hired away from Pittsburgh after the 2016 season, parted ways in January. Canada joined the Terps’ staff weeks later, and Orgeron promoted Steve Ensminger, LSU’s tight ends coach, to replace Canada.
"It's tough when you make a mistake, but it's even tougher not to admit you made a mistake and it's just not a good fit,” Orgeron said. “I had to do the best what I thought for the LSU program, and that's why I did it."
The remark is perhaps less a shot at Canada’s play-calling accumen than a recognition of their stylistic differences. (According to The Times-Picayune, Orgeron and Canada signed an agreement not to speak poorly of each other.)
At Canada’s introductory news conference in Baton Rouge in December 2016, Orgeron described Canada’s shift-heavy schemes, which had transformed Pitt’s offense into the highest scoring in school history, as “great.” Canada, whose salary reportedly made him the highest-paid assistant in the country last year, said he planned on being at the school for “a long, long time.” That by itself was newsworthy: LSU was his sixth school in eight years.
But only a month into the season, there was already a disconnect. In a stunning loss to Troy, Orgeron acknowledged removing Canada’s patented presnap shifts to simplify the offense for a line featuring two freshmen. The Tigers scored at least 27 points in eight of 13 games but finished 54th nationally in total offense, and Canada suggested before the team's bowl game that he had not assumed full control of the offense all season.
Maryland coach DJ Durkin said in March that he had done a "thorough" background check on Canada before hiring him to replace Walt Bell, who left for Florida State.
“I know a lot of people … that have a good relationship with Matt as well, not a concern at all,” Durkin said. “Sometimes in our profession things happen that are totally out of your control. To just mark it that way on someone is not fair.”