Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Why USC Won't Hire Ed Orgeron As Head Coach

Will USC hire interim football coach Ed Orgeron as permanent head coach?

That probably will ever happen. Athletic director Pat Haden is too smart to yield to fan pressure and make such a short-sighted move.

You've got to give Orgeron credit. In a short time, he has done an impressive job, winning five out of six games, including two shockers--one at Oregon State and the other over elite Stanford, pushing SC to 8-3.. He has revitalized SC football, which had become lackluster. Crowds were down. Players were going through the motions under coach Lane Kiffin. Boldly,  after the Arizona State blow-out loss on Sept. 29,  Haden blew out Kiffin and installed Orgeron as temporary leader. Five wins later, SC football is hot again. Part of Pete Carroll's staff early last decade before leaving in 2005, Orgeron has brought back the hearty vibe of the Carroll era.  Now fans want Coach O as permanent leader..

Not so fast. There's a downside to Coach O--and it's pretty steep. Orgeron,  who returned to SC as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator in 2010, can't escape the mess he made of his 2005-2007 run as Ole Miss head coach. Sources report that he's infamous in Oxford, Miss. Some call him the worse coach in SEC history.. In conference games, he was a miserable 3-21..Apparently Orgeron made enemies and burned bridges when he was kicked out of Oxford. Detractors who recall the Ole Miss mess are warning SC that hiring him would be a big mistake.

Sources tuned into Oxford are saying Orgeron has horrible organizational skills. A football coach is like a business-world CEO. According to these sources, Orgeron made one bad decision after another--hiring the wrong coaches and constantly appearing overwhelmed and in way over his head. He recruited first-rate talent but, charge the sources, mismanaged it badly. Also, he ignored the advice of those who were trying to help him out of that  hole. A good football coach has to have some bad-guy and dictator in his make-up.. According to sources, that's not Orgeron, who's like a nice-guy cheerleader with no stomach for tough decisions.

Orgeron is obviously a good short-term fix. But skeptics contend that he hasn't done anything any decent coach would have done in the same situation. Following someone like Kiffin really isn't that difficult.. Kiffin was oppressive and out of touch with his players--more of a warden than a coach.. Coach O is just the opposite, emphasizing fun and freedom, getting out of the way and allowing these exceptionally talented athletes room to reach their potential. How hard is that?

Coach O , 52, was an assistant for the New Orleans Saints and Tennessee after the Ole Miss debacle. He's  basically a solid No. 2 man--a good position coach (defensive line) and an exemplary recruiting coordinator. But as a head coach, in normal circumstances, he's questionable. Will he be effective over a three-to-five-year span? Has he learned from his Ole Miss mistakes? These are the questions Haden is pondering..

So far, Haden has interviewed USC alum Jack Del Rio, a former All-America LB and currently Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator, who's running that team while head coach John Fox in healing from heart surgery. Let's face it. An experienced head coach who might be in the upcoming Super Bowl is a great choice. If you can get a polished gem like Del Rio, why bother with a diamond-in-the rough like Orgeron?

Whoever is hired will have to deal with Orgeron, who would remain as a top assistant and recruiting coordinator. But that could be an obstacle. The new coach might not want Orgeron around. Who wants to step into a job where the No. 2 man is an insanely popular fan-favorite that many think should be head coach? Possibly this might cause some worthy candidate to think twice about taking the job.

Haden is still quietly nosing around, looking for candidates, particularly in the SEC, which is loaded with quality coaches. The big SEC names, Alabama's Nick Saban and LSU's Les Miles, though, are out of reach. Apparently Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin is a serious target, no matter what Haden says. But USC isn't Sumlin's only suitor. Apparently if Gary Kubiak gets the boot from the Houston Texans, Sumlin is the top candidate. That job is probably more appealing to him than the USC position. Sources say there's a coach from the ACC and one from the Big Ten on Haden's list too. But so far, no names have been leaked.

Sources close to SC management say Orgeron, with that Ole Miss experience clouding his resume, is a long shot, even if USC beats UCLA and gets a major bowl victory. They say Haden isn't likely to gamble that Orgeron has what it takes to be a high-quality, long-term head coach.
If I had to put money on whether or not Orgeron gets the job, I'd bet he doesn't get it.