No matter how bad things got last football season when then-defending national champion LSU struggled to finish 5-5, Tigers’ head coach Ed Orgeron continually praised or showed public confidence in offensive line coach James Cregg.
In fact, it’s been that way since Cregg, who had spent five seasons coaching on staffs with Orgeron at Tennessee (2009) and Southern Cal (2010-13), hired him in December 2017 to replace Jeff Grimes who left to become BYU’s defensive coordinator.
But Wednesday night on the second day of the long-awaited NCAA recruiting contact period, LSU announced Orgeron had fired Cregg in a 27-word statement that read:
“LSU has parted ways with offensive line coach James Cregg, head coach Ed Orgeron announced on Wednesday. Orgeron said he will immediately begin a national search for Cregg’s replacement.”
No reason was given for Cregg’s firing. But in all of LSU’s coaching contracts, the first cause for immediate termination is committing NCAA rules violations and failing to report them, no matter how insignificant, to LSU’s director of compliance.
The firing comes two seasons after LSU’s 2019 national championship offensive line was named winner of the Joe Moore Award as college football’s best offensive line.
Cregg was well-respected and well-liked by the players he coached.
“Like I’ve said before, he’s the hardest working coach in the building,” former LSU center Lloyd Cushenberry said a few weeks before he was picked in the 2020 NFL draft by the Denver Broncos whom he started and played every offensive snap for last season as a rookie. “That says something because all our coaches work so hard. Him and Coach O, they’re in the office at 4 o’clock in the morning and probably don’t leave till 11, 12 o’clock at night. They’re always trying to make us better.
“Anything I ask coach Cregg, he can help me out. If I called him right now, asked him to do some drills, even though I’m not there anymore, he would help me out. One of the best coaches I’ve ever had and I can’t thank him enough.”
But if Cregg had a weakness, it was recruiting. On a coaching staff of strong recruiters, LSU has had problems landing top offensive linemen.