Coco and Coach O
(WVUE) - Growing up on the bayou, you develop a passion for family, fishing and football. A deep love for your mama and the LSU Tigers is a given. For Ed Orgeron, when two of his great loves came together, it was overwhelming.
"Last of all I would like to thank my mom," said a tearing-up Ed Orgeron.
In tears, he achieved a lifelong dream. Fans saw a rare glimpse of the soft side of the rough-and-tumble Cajun coach. A side no one knows better than his mother, Coco Orgeron.
"It's hard to describe I guess. It's pride of course. Happiness for him, because he put in a lot of hours. When I see him on television, every friend I have calls me," said Coco Orgeron.
Growing up in Larose, Coach Orgeron was tough, and he bled purple and gold.
"He was a very smart child. He was never prom king, or something like that, no. He was rugged, more than anything else," said Coco.
That ruggedness put him on a path with that other South Lafourche legend, Bobby Hebert. The pair brought home a state title for Tarpons in 1977.
"We went crazy. I can't describe it," said a smiling Coco. "It was the best party I've ever been to, what a party. I don't think you'll ever see that again."
Coach O's first brush with his first love came when he signed out of South Lafourche to play football for LSU. But his career in Baton Rouge ended almost as soon as it started. He left LSU after just two weeks, to join his father digging ditches for the phone company.
"What's going to happen? I wanted him in college, that's where I wanted him. When I was growing up, people didn't go to college that often. I said this is what I want for you. I knew he was going to go back in my heart. I knew it was going to happen and it did," said Coco.
And back to college he went, again hooking up with Hebert, this time at Northwestern State. From there, his path moved from the field to the sidelines. For more than 30 years, Orgeron coached at nine universities, including head coaching stints at Ole Miss and USC. It's quite a roller coaster ride for the "Kid from the bayou."
"Cajuns don't think of themselves as underdogs, no way. We believe we work, and believe in yourself. Things come to you if you work hard. That's how we were raised. He might be down for a little while, but it won't be long," said Coco.
The popularity of Coach O in the capital city is trickling down the bayou to his hometown. Coco no longer goes unnoticed in her community.
"Wherever I went out before people would come and talk to me, but they wouldn't come and sit down and talk to me. Tell me some stories. If it's some young children. I say young kids, like Ed's age when they were going to school. Little stories they would do when they were young. See I didn't know that, it makes it interesting," said Coco.
And sometimes that attention can become a little awkward, especially at church.
"Oh God, they made me stand up and they clapped," an embarrassed Coco recalls. "Father says, 'I hear the mother is here. Get up!' I never blush often, but I did there. My sister says, 'You actually turned red.' I said, 'Yep.'"
Coco was only one half of the team that molded Coach O.
I would like to thank my dad. For all that they've done. Made me the man I am today," said Ed at his press conference.
In Tiger Town he's Coach O, but in Larose he's Junior. Big Ed worked for the Lafourche Telephone company, and loved nothing more than watching his boy play under the "Friday night lights" of South Lafourche.
"His dad was a very happy man, also. He knew everybody. He called you a new nickname every time. He had a nickname for everybody. If you would've been one of Ed's friends, and Ed wasn't there, he was sitting outside, they would sit down and talk just like it was Ed. Whatever they told him, it wasn't going any further than that," said Coco.
Big Ed passed away in 2011, but the memories remain eternal.
"He loved his children above everything," said Coco with a smile.
Even at a young age, growing up right here in Larose, Coco could already see a future for Ed in the coaching ranks.
"He had like a little schedule. He always knew what he wanted, even when they had older boys in the gang, they did mostly what he said. I noticed that. I don't know how to describe it. he wasn't bullying them. That's what I want to do. Yep, that's what we're going to do. If you were older than him, it didn't bother him. He started playing in the tenth grade at South Lafourche High School playing against seniors. Didn't bother him at all," said Coco.
While the Tiger faithful have rallied behind Coach O, they all fall behind his number one fan.
When you read something negative about Ed, do you get excited or worked up?
"Let's not ask that question to momma. I would say, like what does that man know? Like anything else you disagree, you disagree. If he did something wrong I'll agree, but so far he's done nothing wrong," Coco said with a mischievous smile.
LSU fans agree with you for now Coco, but come September, we'll see.
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