Not so long ago, on the night of Dec. 14, 2019, in New York, Joe Burrow stood at a lectern as the newest Heisman Trophy winner and made a teary suggestion to the administration of LSU. “I sure hope they give him a lifetime contract; he deserves it,” Burrow said of Ed Orgeron, the LSU coach who chuckled from the audience, next to Burrow’s parents.

Some 673 days after that and some 643 days after Orgeron and Burrow steered LSU to arguably the greatest national title ever won, the news came Sunday, first reported by Sports Illustrated, that LSU and Orgeron would separate upon the completion of the 2021 season. LSU confirmed the change Sunday evening, with Athletic Director Scott Woodward in a statement thanking Orgeron for his leadership of “the greatest team in college football history in 2019” and his “passion and pride” for LSU football.

Woodward and Orgeron, both native Louisianans, held a joint news conference in the early evening, with Woodward calling Orgeron a friend and the men shaking hands to close the appearance. “Our last two seasons [of 5-5 and thus far 4-3] have simply not met [the LSU] standard,” Woodward said. “When we evaluated our on-field results and the future of our program with [school president William F. Tate IV], we determined that it was time to move in a new direction. That was LSU’s decision, but it is one Coach O understands.”

“I knew that the last two years haven’t been the standard of LSU,” said Orgeron, 60, “so when he came and talked to me after the Kentucky game [a 42-21 loss Oct. 9], I knew that it was time. And I understand that. I understand the expectations of LSU, and I invite them myself, and we did not meet them the last two years.”

He added: “I’m not the one that can evaluate myself. I’ll let y’all do that. Y’all do it enough. I could care less about it.” He said he would continue recruiting and added, “My message to the recruits will not change.” He said he did not plan to coach anywhere in 2022 and said, “You know, I’m 60 years old; I’ve coached for 37 years. I think I’m going to have enough money to buy me a hamburger. Every once in a while, maybe even a double-meat cheeseburger.”

Orgeron is expected to receive the full $16.9 million buyout he is due. He signed a six-year, $42 million extension in January 2020, just days after LSU beat Clemson, 42-25, for that national title.

His dismissal mimicked one of not so long ago, when Auburn fired Gene Chizik on Nov. 25, 2012 — just 685 days after Chizik reveled on a national-title night for that SEC West school.

Off-field issues also stormed in the case of Orgeron, with a USA Today report in 2020 that LSU had mishandled allegations of sexual misconduct by players and with Orgeron named this year as a defendant in a Title IX lawsuit alleging he failed to report the alleged rape of a student by an LSU player, former Washington Football Team running back Derrius Guice. A report published Sunday by the Athletic detailed an array of hindrances strewn across the past 21 months, including insiders’ views that Orgeron might have been distracted by newfound singlehood after filing for divorce not long after championship night.

Coming a day after a 49-42 upset of visiting Florida in which the coach praised his players’ fight, the surprising news of Sunday also epitomized the gathering volatility in an era of decreased patience. Orgeron had come to his job in 2016 through a vein of that volatility.

LSU promoted the former Miami assistant from defensive line coach to interim head coach Sept. 25, 2016, replacing Les Miles, who also won a national championship at the school, but well before that (in January 2008). It became Orgeron’s second stint as an interim coach, following upon his 6-2 turn in 2013 at Southern California. USC did not retain him that December and hired Steve Sarkisian, nowadays the coach at Texas.

From that disappointment, Orgeron had returned home to Louisiana, idle and wondering about his future before Miles brought him on. Once he replaced Miles, he went 6-2 as an interim and LSU hired him, but only after pursuing Tom Herman, the coveted Houston coach who opted to go to Texas. Texas fired Herman in January after four seasons in favor of Sarkisian, whom USC had fired in 2015 over personal issues but who then had gone on to coordinate Nick Saban’s offense at Alabama.

In his first head coaching role since he went 10-25 in three seasons at Mississippi from 2005 to 2007, Orgeron had a 9-4 season in 2017 and a 10-3 season in 2018, the latter his first with Burrow, who had transferred from Ohio State. But once Burrow got to a second season and the work started showing, the Tigers became a mighty comet, going 15-0 while beating seven top-10 teams (including Alabama on the road).

Like Chizik, Orgeron had found the heights with a transfer quarterback who would win the Heisman Trophy, much as Cam Newton had done in one of the great individual seasons in college football history for Auburn in 2010. But after LSU’s title, passing game coordinator Joe Brady joined Matt Rhule’s new staff with the Carolina Panthers and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda replaced Rhule as head coach at Baylor.

The Tigers began hitting some rocks in the pandemic-shortened season of 2020, starting 3-5 before finishing 5-5 and self-imposing a bowl ban in light of an NCAA investigation into improper booster payments. Improvement looked nigh in 2021 until an opening loss at UCLA got the chatter going again and preceded jarring defeats to Auburn and Kentucky, with mighty rival Alabama still ahead. Orgeron stands 49-17 at LSU but 9-8 since the confetti got swept up in the Superdome in January 2020.

“You have no idea what you mean to my family,” Burrow, about to become a No. 1 draft pick, said to Orgeron at that Heisman ceremony. “I didn’t play for three years. You took a chance on me not knowing if I could play or not. And I’m forever grateful for you. Can you imagine a guy like Coach O giving me the keys to his football program?”

No one could foretell that, pretty soon, they wouldn’t be his keys to give.