USC Football: Re-Imagining the Trojans' 2013 Season Without the Injuries

Rick McMahanSenior Writer IDecember 3, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 30:  Interim head coach Ed Orgeron of the USC Trojans watches his team warm up for the game against the UCLA Bruins at Los Angeles Coliseum on November 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

So the shoe has finally dropped, and USC now welcomes Steve Sarkisian as its new head coach for 2014 and beyond.

With the hire, the Trojans bid adieu to their former interim head coach Ed Orgeron, who decided that being a head coach was more important than continuing on as an associate head coach despite the hefty pay raise promised to him by athletic director, Pat Haden.

Orgeron leaves the Trojans disgruntled for not getting the permanent gig, and perhaps he has good reason to be outraged.

After all, Orgeron took over a sinking ship and guided the Trojans to a 6-2 record after Lane Kiffin was fired. Along the way, USC beat some good teams, including Stanford and Oregon State on the road.

The problem for Orgeron though were those two pesky losses which came against Notre Dame and UCLA, who just happen to be the Trojans main gridiron rivals.

And as much as anything, that cost Orgeron any shot to be hired as USC's permanent head coach.

In retrospect, Orgeron did the best he could under difficult circumstances, and there is another factor that hurt not only Orgeron, but also the aforementioned Lane Kiffin.

You see, the Trojans have been playing the last couple of years under the added weight of crippling sanctions which has limited their roster to 75 scholarship players, or 10 less than other programs carry.

Because of this, USC is not in the position to accommodate an abundance of injuries, yet that is exactly what they faced this year.

At last count, the Trojans have had at least 19 players from their two-deep roster that have missed one game or more this year due to injury.

That doesn't count several players, including 2012 All-American receiver Marqise Lee, who have been severely limited by injuries even when they were available to play.

When taken in its entirety, that means USC has had somewhere in the neighborhood of 29 players who have been missing off of their roster, including the 10 that were lost due to sanctions.

Given those numbers, it is a wonder that USC was able to pull of those nine wins, and it gives cause to ponder what USC might have accomplished with a full roster.

Still, the Trojans won't get any sympathy from its fellow Pac-12 members and it sure as hell won't get Orgeron his job back.

But it should engender some sympathy for the gruff 'ol Cajun as he seeks fame and fortune elsewhere in the college football world.