USC must look for new coach elsewhere


Right now, the Ed Orgeron bandwagon is barreling up and down I-110 at breakneck speeds, gaining momentum at every turn. A win over Stanford, the No. 4 team in the nation and an opponent USC hadn’t beaten in the last four tries, warrants such a swell of support from fans and players.

Not so fast · Interim head coach Ed Orgeron has incredibly turned USC’s season around, but he is not the best choice to permanently lead the team. — Razan Al Marzouqi | Daily Trojan

Not so fast · Interim head coach Ed Orgeron has incredibly turned USC’s season around, but he is not the best choice to permanently lead the team. — Razan Al Marzouqi | Daily Trojan

Pat Haden can’t be nearsighted now. Not after the Kiffin saga. Orgeron should not have the interim tag lifted, no matter what the result against UCLA is in two weeks. He has somehow turned the media’s attention back toward USC, but if he becomes permanent head coach, then USC will win as many national titles as it has won since Matt Leinart and [redacted] left Troy.

Coach O is winning thanks to scrappy plays and a positive attitude. He has been not just backtracking, but sprinting in the opposite direction from the ways of Kiffin.

“The whole team has picked up more physicality and become tougher,” redshirt junior defensive end George Uko said after Saturday’s win.

The problem with his strategy is that perennial national title contenders don’t win titles through scrappiness or discipline; they win them by dominance.

Alabama has won two straight titles by going out every week ready to throttle their opponent. The same goes for Oregon, which performs at such a high level that each loss makes headlines across the nation. Even if the Ducks are title-less, they’ve established themselves as a team to be feared. Another team on the list: the 2005 USC team that averaged just shy of 50 points per game.

USC needs a head coach that has the offensive pedigree to help the Trojans steamroll their opponents. The Trojans want scores like 62-28 over Cal rather than 19-3 over Utah. Even though USC allowed 483 yards (albeit some in garbage time) in Berkeley, the excitement and perceived dominance was miles ahead of the win over Utah, where an exceptional USC defensive performance was mostly overlooked because of the offense’s less than stellar play. Injuries have drastically impacted USC’s offense this year, which means the read on offensive coordinator Clay Helton as the playcaller is still unclear.

Under Orgeron, USC would probably win nine to 10 games per season consistently. USC’s recruiting appeal, combined with soon-to-be-lifted sanctions, will allow the Trojans to reel in elite talent from across the country, and talent wins out more often than not in college football.

Orgeron, however, is not the kind of coach to lead teams to undefeated or one-loss seasons year in and year out, which is the unwritten expectation at this program. He motivates well, but bringing in different speakers and meals every week doesn’t lead to real results. Orgeron’s players love him and have admitted to playing harder because of it, but being the program leader at a school like USC requires much more than locker room rah-rah.

Orgeron has been put in a unique situation as the interim head coach. Kiffin was the nasty ex-boyfriend, and Orgeron is the rebound relationship. The first few dates have gone well, with Stanford being the best one yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to tie the knot.

The best-case scenario is hiring a new head coach and keeping Orgeron on staff in his role as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. Orgeron insists he’s learned from his mistakes at Mississippi, where he went 10-25 in three seasons, and I’m inclined to believe him. To see whether he can be a full-time head coach, though, should be the risk of another school with smaller expectations and a less-qualified pool of coaches to choose from.

There’s still a chance, however, that Orgeron will stick around. If Steve Sarkisian is fired by Washington and would be willing to return to USC as the offensive coordinator, then a Trojan Family reunion might have a shot of making things work.

Still, the USC job is one of the most coveted in the world of college football. Orgeron is not qualified for the most prestigious coaching position this side of Texas (sorry, Steve Alford) — at least not yet. A UCLA win is what fans want most right now, but what’s more important is what happens in Pat Haden’s office once the lights go out in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the final time in 2013. Trojan fans should hope rationality is the key factor in his decision.

 

“Four-Point Shot” runs every other Wednesday. To comment on this story, email Jacob at jfreedman277@gmail.com or visit dailytrojan.com.

Follow Jacob on Twitter @Jacob_Freedman

  • Bill N

    You did not make your case not to select Coach O. Some very successful USC coaches (McKay, Robinson, Carroll) since my time as a student did not have successful college head coaching experience. Furthermore, unless the hire is a home run like a Saban (which won’t happen) there are many potential short term setbacks in recruiting, coaching staff turnover, and juniors leaving early for the NFL to consider.

    There is another scenario that could be a win-win for everyone. Give Coach O a 2 year contract. This will give him the opportunity to show that the 2013 turnaround was not a fluke and allow USC to complete the sanctions and start building back up. Some may argue that the 2 years doesn’t reflect confidence in Coach O and that might impact recruiting. Well, the interim title hasn’t hurt recruiting and the truth is that many top recruits want to come to USC due to the football tradition, NFL success, location, academics, etc. Furthermore, if they are coming to USC because of Coach O then they will have the confidence that he will do well enough to have his contract extended. This will allow Coach O to show that he can be a very successful coach at USC (win the next 2 games and he will be 7-1 and 7-0 in the Pac-12 during his audition) for the long run. If that doesn’t happen then Haden has the flexibility to bring in a top college coach after the sanctions have ended.

  • Buzzy Rosette

    James Franklin should be the next head coach of USC

    James Franklin has proven he can coach in a power conference. SEC is not only the best conference, but it also has the best collection of coaches and coordinators. Football matters in the SEC country.

    Vandy had no winning tradition or culture prior to James Franklin. Whatever respectability that Vandy has, James Franklin has created it. Vandy prior to his arrival went to 4 bowls in its entire history, under James Franklin they have went to three. Prior to Franklin, Vandy record in November was 3-32, under Franklin it is 8-2. He has done more with less. When CEO was at Ole Miss he was 10-26, never won more than 3 conference games his entire tenure, at a time when Bama was mediocre and the power of the SEC was in the East with UGA and FLA. CEO winning percentage is 28%. Maybe he has learned from then, but let him prove that at a lesser program not USC.

    Recruiting
    At Vandy James Franklin has had top 25 recruiting classes and last year class was ranked 19. Remember this is Vanderbilt, an academic school parallel to Northwestern, Stanford, Rice, and Duke. Plus, he is recruiting against UGA, FLA, Tenn, Bama, LSU, FSU, V-Tech, Clemson, South Carolina, Arkansas, and etc. All these school are places where football matters, and with big budgets, and who willing to pay coordinators $1MM, and with passionate fans.. Something we in the west cannot fathom. Football is a religion in the South. Yet in the midst of that James Franklin is succeeding with a deck stack against him

    Facilities: prior to James Franklin,Vandy showed little support for its football program, and it sub-standard facilities. James Franklin has been able raise funds for a new indoor practice facilities and other amenities. This shows that he has the charisma to successful talk to boosters and alumni.

    All I am saying there is another option and better. This decision is about the next ten years. James Franklin is smart, great recruiter, creative offensive mind, and has the energy and enthusiasm akin to Pete Carroll.

    Also, I believe James Franklin would be able to win over the current roster and keep the class intact. Also, he would have instant credibility in the inner-cities of Los Angeles and other places. James Franklin is a proven winner, and has done it consistently, and on a non-interim basis

    James Franklin is a first-class individual and coach.

    As an USC alum, I believe James Franklin should be strongly considered by USC.

  • Jonathan Kuhn

    There is definitely a case to be made that, even if we win the final two games, Orgeron is not right for the head coaching job. But this article fails to make that case and, in addition, shows a lack of understanding of reality.

    There’s no scenario where Orgeron wins out, doesn’t get offered head coach at USC, and stays. He will be the head coach somewhere next season, for better or worse. It’s also laughable to think that Sarkisian would take a step down from head coach at Washington to offensive coordinator at USC. You don’t seem to understand how the coaching chain works.

    You also mention USC needing a coach with offensive pedigree. USC has made its name through DEFENSIVE coaches, such as Pete Carroll. Yes, we had some great offenses during his time, but we also had a one-loss season with a historically great defense. If Orgeron could keep the defense playing like it has been the past few games, we would have very successful seasons.

    You are correct to say that Orgeron is not qualified for the head coaching job based on his experience so far. Neither was Kiffin, and we saw how that worked out. I can understand wanting to avoid making the same mistake twice. But if Orgeron wins out, I don’t see how they can’t offer him the job. It would put the person they did offer it to in an impossible situation.

    • Jonathan Kuhn

      To clarify, I understand that you are saying Sarkisian would be FIRED from Washington (a definite possibility), but if he is, he will get a head coaching job at another school with lower expectations. Then if he were to do poorly there, he might consider going back to a coordinator position at a bigger school.

  • Buzzy Rosette

    hy James Franklin should be the next head coach of USC

    James Franklin has proven he can coach in a power conference. SEC is not only the best conference, but it also has the best collection of coaches and coordinators. Football matters in the SEC country.

    Vandy had no winning tradition or culture prior to James Franklin. Whatever respectability that Vandy has, James Franklin has created it. Vandy prior to his arrival went to 4 bowls in its entire history, under James Franklin they have went to three. Prior to Franklin, Vandy record in November was 3-32, under Franklin it is 8-2. He has done more with less. When CEO was at Ole Miss he was 10-26, never won more than 3 conference games his entire tenure, at a time when Bama was mediocre and the power of the SEC was in the East with UGA and FLA. CEO winning percentage is 28%. Maybe he has learned from then, but let him prove that at a lesser program not USC.

    Recruiting
    At Vandy James Franklin has had top 25 recruiting classes and last year class was ranked 19. Remember this is Vanderbilt, an academic school parallel to Northwestern, Stanford, Rice, and Duke. Plus, he is recruiting against UGA, FLA, Tenn, Bama, LSU, FSU, V-Tech, Clemson, South Carolina, Arkansas, and etc. All these school are places where football matters, and with big budgets, and who willing to pay coordinators $1MM, and with passionate fans.. Something we in the west cannot fathom. Football is a religion in the South. Yet in the midst of that James Franklin is succeeding with a deck stack against him

    Facilities: prior to James Franklin,Vandy showed little support for its football program, and it sub-standard facilities. James Franklin has been able raise funds for a new indoor practice facilities and other amenities. This shows that he has the charisma to successful talk to boosters and alumni.

    All I am saying there is another option and better. This decision is about the next ten years. James Franklin is smart, great recruiter, creative offensive mind, and has the energy and enthusiasm akin to Pete Carroll.

    Also, I believe James Franklin would be able to win over the current roster and keep the class intact. Also, he would have instant credibility in the inner-cities of Los Angeles and other places. James Franklin is a proven winner, and has done it consistently, and on a non-interim basis

    James Franklin is a first-class individual and coach.

    As an USC alum, I believe James Franklin should be strongly considered by USC.

  • Steve B.

    A completely dumb ass article. Pete Carroll was a defensive person first where titles are won. You get a good
    offensive coordinator to handle that side of the ball. No one knows for sure whether Orgeron is the best choice
    for the job. Really only Saban and Urban Myers are sure things with no chance of them coming to USC. Sorry
    to say that you are most likely a lansman of mine who has no knowledge of football history or even the present.

  • Steven

    This article is awful. Your argument that USC needs to blow out opponents, like Oregon, may bring excitement to the program, but it does not correlate to winning a championship. If Oregon’s flashy offense is the answer, how come they have yet to win a national championship? Surely Baylor will win the national championship this year, right? Also, when you say Alabama “throttles” their opponents, are you talking about those “20-7” wins against teams like Mississippi State. You didn’t even acknowledge Orgeron’s greatest pro, the fact that he is one of the elite recruiters in the country. He may have been 10-25 at Ole Miss, but his recruiting classes went on to win back-to-back Cotton Bowls. Look, as a column writer for the Daily Trojan, you are better than this. I get the fact that you were trying to swim against the current here, but if you plan do that in future pieces back it up with a thorough, analytical argument.

  • John

    Whatever the case, I do not envy Pat Haden’s job right now.

  • John

    What a moron. First of all you don’t need a coach with an offensive pedigree, Carroll was a defensive minded coach and I think his tenure worked out pretty well. As far as Alabama having success offensively and “steam rolling” opponents they do this because they recruit the best players in the nation, they do this because there is a coach that the players believe in and want to play for. Coach orgeron does just that. He’s one of the best college recruiters in the nation. He knows the tradition and expectations at USC and he’s a leader. Sign him to a 3 year deal and let’s see what happens, any one else other than Jon grudge would be a monumental disaster.

  • USCSucks

    This article takes a very high seat condemning and blasting Orgeron. Sounds more like an annoying girlfriend who discredits everything you’ve accomplished in life by demeaning you’re successes and bringing up your past. GO UCLA.

    • Fucla

      Stay on your own website clown!

  • Jaime

    There are many things the Orgeron detractors are missing. The arguments (is he actually a good coach, is he just a rah rah guy, etc.) are starting to be ridiculous. The Ole Miss argument is also old. Some facts:

    Is he a good coach? – Look at the defensive lines under him at Miami and at USC. Coach O’s defensive lines are among the best ever.

    Can he get the players? – Look up his story. He is an amazing recruiter, but beyond that, the guy loves USC. He believes in the school and the Trojan family. Combine great natural recruiter with loving the school, and it’s a great fit.

    Can he coach the WHOLE team (offense/defense) – He has done a great job delegating and managing the game and emotions on the sidelines.

    Everyone calling for Del Rio, Sumlin, etc. None of these guys is a sure thing. Coach O is interviewing by actually doing a great job. I don’t see the downside in giving him a shot.

  • Christian D. Orr

    John McKay had two losing seasons his first 2 years as USC’s head coach (1960-61), so I suppose that made him unqualified to remain at USC for the following 14 seasons (whereupon he won 4 national ttitles, including in 1962)?

    “The problem with his strategy is that perennial national title contenders don’t win titles through scrappiness or discipline; they win them by dominance.” WTF, seriously??? Since when are either scrappiness or discipline mutually exclusive with dominance? Does Mr. Freeman honestly think that either our 2003 or ’04 national championship squads never had to display scrappiness or discipline??

    What about when the ’03 squad had to contend with the triple-OT loss to Cal, or the halftime deficit against ASU that following week (and oh, BTW, Leinart bounced back from injury to lead the team from behind after halftime–how’s THAT for “scrappiness”)? Or how about the ’04 team’s halftime deficits against VA Tech, Stanford, and Oregon State (the latter played in a thick fog to boot).

    I suppose Mr. Freeman would rather delude himself into revisonist history and convince himself that our national championship teams were truly “dominant” through all 60 minutes of every single game they played. Me, I remember the REAL history, the adversity that those teams had to fight through and thus rightfully EARN their national titles.

    –Christian D. Orr
    USC Class of 1997
    Daily Trojan Assistant Editorial Director, 1994-97

  • Fellow Trojan

    It embarrasses me how poorly written this article is. I can’t imagine you actually follow USC or college football in general.

    First, you say USC needs an offensive minded coach in order to dominate like Alabama. Alabama and Florida State, the top two teams this year, both have head coaches who are defensive minded. Also, do you think that USC is not trying to throttle its opponent every week? Like our gameplan is “hey let’s try to win by 3 every week!”

    You also talk about how scrappiness and discipline don’t win championships, dominance does. You make it seem like these are separate things, like a team can’t be both disciplined and dominate. There are many aspects that go into being a dominate team. That 2005 USC team you mentioned had a damn good defense too, wasn’t just their offense.

    Overall, I felt like your article was terribly written. I can’t imagine you have not spent any time around this football team, or any football team. You vastly discredit motivation and the other positive traits that coach O has brought this team. There are reasonable reasons why Coach O should not get the job, but you touch on none of them. I hope you use this article to improve your article writing ability, or else I suggest something other than sports journalism for your post-college plans.

  • 1982 USC Alumnus

    I have to agree with this very mature author and his insight. Oregeron is a nice guy but it’s way too early to hire him; he’s still on his 90 day probation, IMO. I’d go a step further, however; Pat Haden is not up to his job as AD, largely for waiting far too long to fire Lane Kiffin, which inaction demonstrates a fundamental lack of wisdom and leadership. We need a new AD as well.

  • Steven

    This article is awful. Your argument that USC needs to blow out opponents, like Oregon, may bring excitement to the program, but it does not correlate to winning a championship. If Oregon’s flashy offense is the answer, how come they have yet to win a national championship? Surely Baylor will win the national championship this year, right? Also, when you say Alabama “throttles” their opponents, are you talking about those “20-7” wins against teams like Mississippi State. You didn’t even acknowledge Orgeron’s greatest pro, the fact that he is one of the elite recruiters in the country. He may have been 10-25 at Ole Miss, but his recruiting classes went on to win back-to-back Cotton Bowls. Look Jacob, as a column writer for the Daily Trojan, you are better than this. I get the fact that you were trying to swim against the current here, but if you plan do that in future pieces back it up with a thorough, analytical argument.

  • laryTenys

    Sensibly stated article and opinion well adjusted. Just because we win a few games does not mean we have one winning coach. The players are just not growing up to be football players, Where are these players in all the losing games? Oregeron was there in all the losing games. And we need more than a winning coach to play against the power teams.

    • DailyTrojaner

      While it would be prudent to be patient in assessing whether Coach O can continue to deliver the wins, to suggest that only someone from another big name school or a professional team is worthy of consideration to be anointed USC’s new head football coach is shortsighted. Flash, charm and arrogance do not a leader make. That was just tried and failed miserably. Rather than view the process of selecting a head coach as an opportunity to invoke coach envy among other Division I schools, how about focusing on the ability of the coach to motivate his players to do their very best for him knowing that he has their very best interests at heart. If a coach can’t motivate, a team is unlikely to win. Coach O is engaged, enthusiastic and the players are committed to him – he has their backs. USC should have his unless and until he proves otherwise. If he continues to coach well, give him a one-year deal and let him show USC what he can do.

      • Buzzy Rozay

        Daily Trojaner:

        Why would you give Coach Orgeron a one-year deal. If you believe he is the most qualified for the job, then USC should commit to him fully and give him a five-year deal. If you give him a one-year deal, it shows that university is not fully committed to him; and t would hurt recruiting because what recruit would commit to a coach that they do not even know will be around after their freshman year.

        Secondly, why is wanting a proven head coach shirt-sighted? I want USC to get a coach with a proven track of a reasonable amount of success, recruiting ability, vision, and ability to run a program. Coach O does not have a track record of success as a head coach when he was on a non-interim basis. His winning percentage at Ole Miss was 28% with no record of or even hint of progress. What coach in college you know had no record of success in the previous head coaching post before winning a national championship. The top coaches in CFB today had some measure of success before they won a national title.

        Urban Meyer: prior success at Bowling Green and Utah
        Nick Saban: prior success at Michigan State
        Steve Spurrier: prior success at Duke University
        Les Miles: prior success at Oklahoma State
        Kevin Sumlin: prior success at Houston University
        Mack Brown: prior success at North Carolina
        Art Briles: prior success at Houston and was successful high school coach.
        James Franklin: having success at Vanderbilt.
        Jimmy Johnson: prior success at Oklahoma State

        I believe James Franklin should be chosen to be the head coach at USC.

        CEO should get an interview, but USC has to make a decision who is the most qualified and not who deserve this job.

  • CEO

    In all of my years at USC, this may be the worst article ever published. Banned from the locker room in 3….2….1….

  • Don Harmon

    Well put. I, too, am thrilled at Ed Ogeron’s success, but I lack enough knowledge or judgment on this matter to say that it would be best to retain him as head coach. I have to trust Pat Haden, with his impressive intellect, experience and training, will make the best choice, if not the one that has such mmediate and high emotional appeal.

  • Thekatman

    Nice article for a creative writing class.
    What are your specific points of contention to not pick Oregeron as the new HC at USC?
    The Ole Miss story is old, as is ESPNs Finebaum, so that one isn’t valid.
    Just asking.

  • Regor

    What are you, in high school? This article makes no sense what-so-ever. Stick to biology or something like that, but not sports writing.