BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton was ready for a new start with an old friend.
Crowton on Thursday resigned from LSU and said he'll take a similar post at Maryland with new Terrapins coach Randy Edsall, who he coached with at Boston College in the early 1990s.
Edsall "called and said he wanted to have a very aggressive, wide open offense, like we did together at Boston College, and like I'd run at Louisiana Tech and Oregon," Crowton said. "So he's going to bring me out there and we're going to put that together."
Crowton was the offensive coordinator and later the head coach at Louisiana Tech in the late 1990s before taking a job as offensive coordinator with the Chicago Bears. In 2001, he returned to the college ranks as Brigham Young's head coach. After being fired by BYU in 2004, he spent two seasons at Oregon before joining LSU in 2007 and helping the Tigers win a national championship in his first year in charge of the offense.
Crowton had some of his finest moments at LSU that season, including his play call that produced a 22-yard touchdown pass from Matt Flynn to Demetrius Byrd in the final seconds of a 30-24 victory over Auburn.
LSU was in range for a 39-yard field goal to win it, but Crowton saw Demetrius Byrd waving up to him in the press box in an attempt to communicate an advantage he saw against single coverage on his side of the field. Instead of going conservative, Crowton called for a fade to Byrd in the back of the end zone.
"That was one of the highlights," Crowton recalled. "I'm real thankful for the opportunity I had at LSU. We head great games, won a lot of games."
LSU has gone 40-13 during Crowton's time with the Tigers, winning three bowl games, but ranked last in the Southeastern Conference in passing this season.
"We didn't throw it as much this year as we had in past, but we took care of the football pretty good and were able to win 11 games and finish with a real nice bowl win and score 41 points," Crowton said, referring to LSU's 41-24 won over Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 7.
Junior quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who struggled for significant stretches this season, threw for three touchdowns — including passes of 41 and 42 yards — and ran for another score against the Aggies.
Crowton said now is a tough time to leave LSU with many key players returning and with coveted junior college quarterback Zach Mettenberger arriving. Mettenberger will compete with Jefferson for the starting job and quarterback Jarrett Lee also is expected to return for his senior season.
"Jordan Jefferson is going to do well. He played with confidence in the Cotton Bowl. He's starting to get it and he's going to have a great year next year," Crowton said. "Jarrett Lee is a solid quarterback, I know they're excited about Zach and with all the starters they have coming back I know it's going to be an exciting time."
Crowton said he told LSU head coach Les Miles of his decision to leave this morning. Miles hugged him and thanked for his four seasons, and then they reminisced a bit.
"We talked about some of the good times and great games and the fun, tough competitive games we've had in the Southeastern Conference," Crowton said. "There were a lot of good memories here. It was a good time and I appreciated that."