USC Football: Making the Case for Ed Orgeron to Stay
As stopgap measures go, it seemed reasonable.
Yes, have defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator/associate head coach Ed Orgeron take over the sinking ship known as USC until a suitable replacement could be found to permanently replace the fired Lane Kiffin — except that Orgeron has refused to play along.
From the moment that the gravelly voiced Orgeron took over, he promised he would bring the fun back to Trojan football and, along the way, he hoped to win a few games, too.
Five games into his audition for the permanent job, Orgeron has delivered on his promise.
Now 4-1 since taking over and bringing the joy back for his players, "Coach O" has USC relevant again.
How relevant? Say hello to ESPN on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Whether or not Orgeron can get the "interim" removed from his title remains to be seen, but could anyone have seen ESPN coming to LA a month ago?
Following are some compelling reasons for Orgeron to get a chance to permanently coach the men of Troy, although they come with conditions attached.
Orgeron Truly Loves and Cares About USC
Okay, the fact that a person loves where he works shouldn't necessarily be considered as an endorsement for the job, but it doesn't hurt.
When Ed Orgeron comes to work every day, he brings the passion of a man who enjoys his job and it shows in the way he runs his program.
His players feed off of the effort he brings to the team. His desire to bring USC back to the successful days they knew not so long ago is apparent to everyone, including his boss, athletic director Pat Haden.
According to CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman, Haden recognizes Orgeron's love for USC and it's football program. Said Haden, of Orgeron:
That energy. That passion. The love for the game. The love for the university, it means a lot to us.
But exactly how much does it mean to Haden when it comes time to make the call for a permanent head coach?
His Players Absolutely Love Playing for Him
One thing we know for sure is that USC players love Ed Orgeron and would go through walls for him.
Quarterback Cody Kessler admitted that to Bruce Feldman of CBS Sports:
And this man right here to my right (Orgeron) — and I don't only speak for myself — I speak for the whole team, we would go to war for this guy any day of the week.
Kessler isn't the only player who feels that way. Trojans linebacker Hayes Pullard told Feldman, "We love 'Coach O' like a dad."
Feldman's observations reflects those of others who cover USC, such as Calum Hayes of ConquestChronicles.com. Hayes writes, "These guys love Ed Orgeron and it's for reasons greater than the confections on the training table. It's because he offers affirmation as often as he does sweets."
Is it important to have players who truly love you?
Ask Lane Kiffin.
If Orgeron Stays, so Do the Assistant Coaches
Is it just me or are the individual units for USC playing much, much better?
It seems as though not only are special teams playing well, but the same can be said for both the Trojans' offense and defense.
Much of the credit must go to the coaching staff which has guided the players to excel despite the myriad of hurdles they have had to overcome.
Special teams coach John Baxter, running backs coach Tommie Robinson, wide receivers coach Tee Martin and defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast are all coaches of note in USC's recent success.
Hell, even Mike Summers and James Cregg—who coach the formerly maligned offensive line—have done a very good job over the last couple of games.
The point is that this coaching staff enjoys plying its craft under Ed Orgeron. If he leaves, it is likely that his staff will be replaced. That includes the recruiting staff led by Orgeron and Martin.
Do the USC players want to lose this group of coaches and have to start all over under a new regime?
Orgeron Has Produced Results so Far
Okay, for those who adhere to the bottom line, here are the facts: Ed Orgeron is 4-1 as USC's interim head coach and only the faulty leg of field-goal kicker Andre Heidari has kept "Coach O" from sporting an unblemished record since taking over for the now departed Lane Kiffin.
Has Orgeon been perfect? No. In fact, some might say that beyond Heidari's misses, Orgeron was his own worst enemy in the loss to Notre Dame due to some faulty play-calling and misuse of timeouts.
Nonetheless, Orgeron has undeniably had a impact on this team and they are playing much better since he has taken over.
USC athletic director Pat Haden should keep that in mind as he goes forward with his head coaching search.
Ultimately, Ed Orgeron Controls His Own Fate for the Head Coaching Job
If Ed Orgeron wants to be offered the permanent head coaching job at USC, all he has to do is win the remaining four games on the schedule.
Maybe not, but the fact of the matter is that if USC finishes 10-3 with victories over Stanford and UCLA along the way, athletic director Pat Haden would almost certainly offer Orgeron a contract to coach the Trojans after 2013.
Results on the field of play, the love of his players, his prowess as a recruiter, and perhaps most importantly, the desire of the Trojans' fanbase would almost certainly force Haden into offering Orgeron the job, even if he were reluctant to do so.
So there you go, Ed. I have offered you the key to keeping the job you love so much.
Now go out and do it.
As stated before, USC has witnessed a renaissance under Ed Orgeron.
Faced with the incredibly difficult task of replacing Lane Kiffin midway through the season, Orgeron has performed admirably thus far and the Trojans have certainly responded to their gruff, but loving, coach with the southern twang.
Although many will say that USC needs a glamorous, big-name coach—Jon Gruden anyone?—there are others who say the guy they need is the one they already have.
Whichever way athletic director Pat Haden goes, what is certain is that Orgeron has been there when the Trojans needed him most.
If USC finishes this season with a bang, Haden ought to return the favor.
That's only fair and, more important, it is the right thing to do—both for Orgeron and the Trojans.