Pat Haden Must Do Due Diligence in USC Coach Search Despite Ed Orgeron's Success

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Pat Haden Must Do Due Diligence in USC Coach Search Despite Ed Orgeron's Success
Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Ed Orgeron has looked impressive as the interim head coach over the past six weeks, but that doesn't mean Pat Haden doesn't still need to search for a new head coach.

USC's 20-17 upset win over the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal was the cherry on top of the increasingly appetizing and hard to resist Coach Orgeron sundae, one defined by large scoops of pride, heart and personality and sprinkled with the growing adoration of fans and Trojan boosters alike.

It's a deliciously sweet sundae, one that those in Troy seem to be eating up graciously, asking for more before they even finish the first bite. It's especially satisfying after the freezer-bitten, flavorless helping of Lane Kiffin that USC was force fed in the wake of sanctions.

While the sugar high rages on in Southern California, the clamoring for more treats from interim head coach Ed Orgeron grows deafening. But does that mean USC athletic director Pat Haden should forgo sampling other options?

Orgeron seemingly has turned the USC program around overnight and created a full-blown love-fest in doing so. He is animated on the sidelines, talks to the media and shows and communicates the passion and love he has for both the game and his players.

He's brought in past Trojan greats to speak with the players and fed them everything from southern-style barbecue to In-N-Out Burger, and the sense of togetherness that the team has displayed hasn't been this strong since Pete Carroll's days.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Haden's midseason firing of Lane Kiffin ended up being the best thing to happen to USC in 2013.

In every way he is the antithesis of Lane Kiffin, and the players, fans, boosters and media alike are loving it.

By being undefeated in Pac-12 play and now with this big win over Stanford, Orgeron is making it very easy for Haden to just drop the "interim" designation and name him the legitimate head coach.

He's showing that he has grown much from his 3-9 (0-8 in SEC play) days at Ole Miss and that he just might be ready to return to the big stage USC also commands. He's showing he's as much a man of Troy as anyone else.

As true as all of that is, it doesn't mean that Haden should be content with this option. In fact, that would be the exact opposite of what he is supposed to do as the athletic director in Troy. 

It's not Haden's job to be swayed by a sudden swing of good fortune and hype. Rather, it's his job to take stock of the best options available to USC, and if need be, to extend the head coaching job to one of those candidates. 

Recently, news surfaced that the Denver Broncos' Jack Del Rio met with Haden on Nov. 1 and interviewed for the job at USC, according to the Associated Press, per ESPN. To some, this could be perceived as disrespectful to Orgeron, considering all he has done to give USC new life in the past six weeks.

Others, however, including Orgeron himself, know college football is a business and certain steps need to be taken, per Fox Sports West's Rahshaun Haylock: 

Last week, ESPN.com's Travis Haney reported that USC is willing to pay up to $6 million to land the perfect fit for the job (subscription required). If that ends up being Orgeron, great. But just because he is doing well doesn't mean the Trojans shouldn't court the likes of Del Rio and Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin to see if they're interested. 

Besides, with the way Orgeron has been coaching, both USC boosters and the eventual hire would be stupid not to hold on to him. He's one of the best recruiters in the country, and he brings a Carroll-esque energy and presence that should only help him thrive in Los Angeles.  

Should Ed Orgeron be USC's next head coach?

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If USC wins out this season—which includes next week's road trip to Colorado and a regular-season final clash with crosstown rivals UCLA—we can expect the taste for All-Coach O-Everything to grow exponentially. Even so, Haden will have a job to do during the offseason, one that will have lasting implications and impact on the future of Trojan football.

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