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Ed Orgeron Returns to Starkville, One Decade Later

Ed Orgeron's career at Ole Miss ended on a Friday afternoon in Starkville. One decade later, he returns as LSU's head coach.

Missouri v LSU Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

A debate spawned in the commentary booth.

"I would think you go for it, here at midfield", said Dave Neal — the play-by-play man for Lincoln Financial Sports' television coverage of college football.

Dave Archer, the color commentator, retorted. "I don't think so. I think you punt it."

It was November 23, 2007 — a brisk Friday afternoon in Starkville. Mississippi State was searching for its first bowl berth since 2000, entering the 104th overall meeting with Ole Miss at 6-5. The Rebels, on the other hand, were 3-8; they just hoped for a desperate morsel of confidence heading into 2008.

Ed Orgeron, wrapping up his third season as Ole Miss' head coach, paced the sidelines. His Rebels held on to a 14-0 lead in the 4th quarter, with just over ten minutes remaining. They faced a 4th and 1 on their own 49.

"You're leading 14-0", Archer continued. "You would give Mississippi State the short field if you don't get this."

As Orgeron's offense took the field and prepared to roll the dice, sideline reporter Dave Baker chimed in. "I respectfully agree with the quarterback on this one. You gotta play for field position."

Ole Miss quarterback Brent Schaeffer lined up under center. He got the snap and gave the ball to running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who was immediately met in the backfield by Jasper O'Quinn and Kieth Fitzhugh.

Wesley Carroll threw a touchdown pass to Anthony Dixon on the ensuing possession. With 2:38 left in the ballgame, Bulldog safety Derek Pegues returned a punt 75 yards to the house, tying the game at 14. State stopped the Rebels to a three-and-out and got the ball back. With 12 seconds remaining, Adam Carlson made a 48-yard field goal to give State the lead.

Mississippi State defeated Ole Miss, 17-14, that day. The Bulldogs went bowling. The Rebels limped to a 3-9 record, giving Ed Orgeron a 10-25 overall record as head coach.

He was fired the next day.

It is now 2017. This Saturday, one decade after Orgeron's debacle in the Egg Bowl, he returns to Starkville.

He is traveling alongside LSU, as the Tigers' head coach.

NCAA Football: Chattanooga at Louisiana State Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

A lot has changed since that day in 2007.

Ed Orgeron was once considered a laughing stock in college football, best known for losing and a hilarious Hummer commercial.

Now, he is leading one of the most prestigious programs in the history of collegiate football.

After Ole Miss, Ed Orgeron made stops in New Orleans with the Saints and Knoxville, as a part of Lane Kiffin's staff at Tennessee. But, after Kiffin's firing at Southern California midway through the 2013 season, Orgeron got his chance for redemption.

He took charge of a downtrodden, 3-2 season and turned it into a success. He started 4-1, with his only loss coming to Notre Dame, as the Trojans hosted #5 Stanford. USC upset the Cardinal that night, 20-17, and Ed Orgeron suddenly looked as if he could take over the Southern California program.

Stanford v USC Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

However, a 35-14 setback to UCLA dashed his chances. He didn't coach the bowl game — offensive coordinator and current head coach Clay Helton did — and the Trojans hired Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian to be the next man of Troy.

After a year off in which he declined the head coaching job at Nicholls State, Orgeron was hired by Les Miles to join LSU's staff as defensive line coach.

In 2015, the Tigers started off hot, boasting a 7-0 record before falling to Alabama in Tuscaloosa. LSU finished the season 9-3, and Les Miles barely escaped with his job. However, after a 2-2 start to 2016, Miles was let go, and Orgeron returned to his position as an interim head coach.

Similar to USC, he got the train rolling again. Orgeron's Tigers started 3-0, and although dropping another contest to Alabama, fans' confidence still remained. After a 16-10 loss to Florida, his future as LSU's head coach seemed unlikely.

It was reported that LSU athletic director Joe Alleva was chasing after Houston head coach Tom Herman. But, Orgeron was able to string together a 54-39 win over Texas A&M to keep his name in consideration. Herman was hired by Texas, and all of a sudden, Ed Orgeron was picked to be the full-time head coach of the Louisiana State Tigers.

Chattanooga v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Coach O isn't the only factor that has changed dramatically over the last decade. For Mississippi State in 2007, making a bowl game was equivalent to winning the lottery. Today, the Bulldogs have appeared in seven consecutive bowls, which is the fifth-longest active streak in the SEC — only behind Georgia, LSU, Alabama, and Texas A&M.

Saturday's contest in Starkville will be visible evidence of extreme change. One decade ago, Mississippi State celebrated their bowl berth as if they had won the Super Bowl. One decade ago, Ed Orgeron trudged off of Scott Field with a humiliating loss and an uncertain future.

This Saturday, for the first time in a decade, Ed Orgeron returns to Starkville as a different man, and for sure, a different coach.