With the regular season officially over for USC, the head coaching search is on with gusto for the Trojans.
According to ESPN's Joe Schad, USC athletic director Pat Haden is nearing a decision, and we could even know as soon as this week who will be guiding the Trojans into the future.
Per Schad, Boise State's Chris Petersen and Vanderbilt's James Franklin are the top two contenders for the job. While they each present obvious attractive qualities, should Haden consider the desires of current players at USC, who still want Orgeron to be the future of the program?
Chris Petersen and James Franklin are top options at USC. A new coach could be named as early as this week.— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) December 2, 2013
After Saturday's loss to UCLA, a handful of football players took to Twitter to express their unwavering support of Orgeron to stay at USC.
#HireCoachO RT— Scott Starr (@SS47ERA) December 1, 2013
You're not going to find a better recruiter, coach, or father figure that is anything remotely like Ed Orgeron!— Kenny Bigelow (@4_Fighton_0) December 1, 2013
I've said it once, and I'll say it again. Nothing has changed! HIRE COACH O!!— Su'a Cravens (@_Suu_C) December 1, 2013
Even Trojan quarterback Cody Kessler used the social media platform to vocalize his feelings about the loss, as well as the fact the he attributes USC's rebound to having Orgeron at the helm.
With players openly discussing their desire for Orgeron to get the job—notably, players who will be in the program in 2014—Haden certainly has a lot of people in his ear suggesting what decision he should make.
But who should he listen to the most?
What the players have to say is obviously important; they spent the second half of the season under Orgeron and played incredibly well, given the circumstances, for him. Of course, the team did fall short in two very important games, which undoubtedly plays a role in his promotion being in flux in the first place.
Orgeron's importance to the program cannot be understated, but there are still doubts as to whether he is the best choice for the next few years. Add Petersen and Franklin to the mix, and things get complicated.
In a perfect world, USC is able to keep Orgeron on in a defensive capacity similar to what he held before former head coach Lane Kiffin's termination. His commanding presence would still permeate through Troy, and his recruiting talent would still be at USC's disposal.
Bringing in a coach like Petersen could actually be great for the Trojans. He boasts a 92-12 record with the Broncos and coached them to five conference titles in eight years. Plus his offensive creativity is exactly the kind of thing that could help USC remain competitive as the landscape of the Pac-12 evolves.
Franklin hasn't had nearly as much success by comparison, but he took over a lowly Vanderbilt team in 2011 and has won 23 games since. He led the Commodores to 15 combined wins in his first years on the job, Vanderbilt's best performance in a two-season stretch since the 1920s. However, Franklin was able to capitalize on Tennessee's athletic downturn and use that to his advantage. If he were to come to USC, that wouldn't be the case; UCLA is on the rise, which would present Franklin with an unfamiliar task.
Both Franklin and Petersen have demonstrated an ability to recruit well, as well as turn run-of-the-mill programs into nationally recognized ones.
As a head coach, Orgeron doesn't have nearly the résumé that these coaches have, but he has the players on his side.
Then again, is it really Haden's job to consider the opinions of players who won't necessarily be around for the long run?
Who should USC hire as its new coach?
This isn't the NFL. Haden can't make his decision based on the wants of athletes who can leave after as few as three years with the program.
With this cacophony increasing as USC prepares for a postseason bowl, it's no surprise Haden is looking to make his decision quickly. After that decision is rendered, expect the noise to reach deafening levels.