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Ed Orgeron named USC’s interim head coach


It’s not often that you see a head coach fired five games into a season, but USC pulled the plug on Lane Kiffin hours after its 62-41 loss to Arizona State, which meant the Trojans were in need of someone to take over coaching duties the rest of the way.

Enter Ed Orgeron.

USC’s current defensive line coach was handed the reins of the football program on Sunday by the school’s athletic director, Pat Haden, and tasked with ‘bringing joy and fun’ back to the team for its final eight games of the 2013 season.

He’s the first interim head coach in the history of USC football.

“I want to thank Pat Haden for trusting me to be the interim head coach at USC,” said Orgeron. “We had a very positive staff meeting this morning and then we met with the team and came out with a positive vibe.  We made a commitment to give all we have for the Trojan family. I’m excited to be this team’s coach for next eight games and see where it takes us.”

Orgeron’s passion and enthusiasm contrasts sharply with Kiffin’s introverted, almost sullen personality, and was cited by Haden as a prime reason for his selection.

“This game is supposed to be fun,” Haden said.  “Ed’s love for the game and passion for the game means a lot to us. There is a lot to be played for still this year.”

The 52-year-old Louisiana native has previous head coaching experience, a forgettable three-year stint at Ole Miss from 2005-2007. The Rebels went 10-25 during that time and Orgeron was fired after going 0-8 in SEC play. But Orgeron credited his time in Oxford as a learning experience that will help him with his current undertaking.

“Coaching there helped me learn how to handle days like today,” he said. “I learned how to handle a full team and not just a defensive line. I learned how to handle adverse situations, how to play LSU and Alabama in a hostile environment, how to react and interact with the players and how to organize recruiting.”

Orgeron said offensive coordinator Clay Helton would call plays, but that the offense probably wouldn’t change that much schematically.

“We’re going to have some lengthy discussions about it this week and I totally trust we’ll put a great product on the field,” he said.

Whatever the case, the tone and feel of this team will be much different with Orgeron at the helm.

“I want to play with energy,” said Orgeron. “I want our guys to believe and have a little fun. We need to circle the wagons a bit, have some fun and let the chips fall where they may.”

Unless a miracle happens, don’t look for Orgeron to end up as USC’s permanent head coach. Haden made it clear that the search would soon begin, but that it wasn’t time to talk about any possible hires just yet.

“We’re going to try to find the best coach we can possibly find,” said Haden. “But it’s not fair to our team to talk about that right now. Let’s worry about that search in our future.”

USC has a couple months to get that coaching search right. Until then, the high-energy Orgeron is its man.

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23 Responses to “Ed Orgeron named USC’s interim head coach”
  1. woebegong says: Sep 29, 2013 6:46 PM

    He will probably not see the head coaching job permanently there since he was brought in by the Lame man. I am sure that the AD will want to wipe the slate clean as far as that goes.
    I do wonder if it is too late in the football season or too close to Christmas for Kiffin to find a job some where. If I were him, I think I might look for a different kind of work though. Head usher, head custodian are jobs that immediately come to mind. Maybe only assistant Head Usher or Custodian though. I don’t think many folks want him in charge completely without close supervision.

  2. dcroz says: Sep 29, 2013 6:48 PM

    So USC replaces the disaster that was Lane Kiffin with a guy that was a disaster at Ole Miss. That sound you hear is Haden throwing in the towel on the remainder of the Trojans’ season.

  3. billmead1976 says: Sep 29, 2013 6:52 PM

    It was the only possible solution. I thought they might break the bank for somebody like Gruden just to finish the year but you had to let go of Lame now and save recruiting.

  4. soundsofsuccess7 says: Sep 29, 2013 6:59 PM

    It’s hard for people to get a feeling for this guy without hearing his voice.

  5. gatorfan1 says: Sep 29, 2013 7:01 PM


    My understanding is that Lame would only be considered for the Head Usher or Head custodian job if he brought Monte with him!!!

  6. woebegong says: Sep 29, 2013 7:04 PM

    You do have a point there my friend. I completely forgot about the support staff.

  7. fearthehoody says: Sep 29, 2013 7:51 PM

    What about the juice? Orenthal could not be worse than Lame

  8. Anoesis says: Sep 29, 2013 8:00 PM

    Amazing how many people like to jump up to criticize USC while knowing very little about the place.

    A previous thread has a run-down of AD Pat Haden for the benefit of the willfully ignorant. Here’s a few facts about Ed Orgeron:

    A Louisiana native, Orgeron attended South Lafourche High School in Galliano, LA, with former Michigan Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Bobby Hebert. Orgeron and Hebert played on the school’s Class 4A state championship team in 1977. Orgeron committed to LSU, but transferred to Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA, after one practice.

    He’s had numerous coaching positions in college football and, while defensive line coach at Miami, won two national championships (’89 and ’91). In 1998, he was hired by new USC head coach Paul Hackett to coach the defensive line. Hackett was fired in 2000, but Orgeron was retained by new coach Pete Carroll. Orgeron was named recruiting director in ’01 and assistant head coach in ’03. He was National Recruiter of the Year in ’04.

    Even University of Mississippi’s chancellor Robert Khayat and other administrators with oversight of the football program, including Athletic Director Pete Boone, admitted “Coach Orgeron inherited a very difficult situation.” It didn’t work out, but he was hardly a total bust. Orgeron’s second recruiting class in February 2006 was successful by acquiring the written pledges of a national Top 15 signing class for the program. He followed that with the 32nd ranked recruiting class in February 2007.

    While willing to assume the head coaching position for the remainder of this season, Orgeron likely won’t get the job permanently and probably doesn’t want it. His specialties are defense and recruiting and he’s very good at both. Just the change in atmosphere will be a major improvement for the players.

  9. scbaby2013 says: Sep 29, 2013 8:04 PM

    Great post Anoesis. Coach O is a welcome change until a new head coach is named after the season

  10. jimbo75025 says: Sep 29, 2013 9:03 PM

    @ Anoesis

    If you’re going to list out facts on Orgeron, might as well include problem drinker. Heard quite a few stories out of Oxford and Knoxville regarding that aspect.

  11. noaxetogrind says: Sep 29, 2013 9:22 PM

    @ Anoesis,
    I am completely stunned that Pat Haden made this decision. I have admired Haden from afar more so for his off the field acomplishments and his character. Surely he is aware of the following facts that you conveniently didn’t list in your glowing report on Ed Orgeron:
    1991- While an asst at Miami he has a “permanent injunction of protection” issued against him by the court. He is ordered to attend a 26 week Domestic Violence Program.
    1992- While an asst at Miami, he is arrested for a bar room fight in Baton Rouge. Miami has no choice but to fire him. He spends one year at Nichols State.
    He was the recruiting coordinator at USC during the Reggie Bush recruiting scandal.
    He has twice been reprimanded by the NCAA for inappropriate contact in recruiting. While at Ole Miss he tried to poach Tulane players in the aftermath of Katrina. When he left Tenn for USC he contacted committed players to Tenn and tried to get them to switch to USC. One is a clear cut violation, (Ole Miss) and one is simply unethical. His response to both was I wasn’t aware that it was inappropriate. Lastly, in his one year in Knoxville he was cited 6 times for minor recruiting violations. He may be a heck of a coach and a motivator but unfortunately he represents the worst in terms of teaching character and personal development. His reputation is widely known within coaching circles. As classy as Haden is I simply cannot fathom this move.

  12. gatorprof says: Sep 29, 2013 10:01 PM

    Orgeron is not an upgrade. He bombed at Ole Miss. His recruiting exploits were also very unpopular with the NCAA. Great recruiter, just need to keep him on the right side of the law. Great DL coach. Awful HC.

    There are many great position coaches that are awful HCs.

    USC continues to be a bad joke.

  13. going4iton4th says: Sep 29, 2013 10:20 PM

    All things considered, I thought USC would give Kiffin until the end of the year regardless. Orgeron is a capable guy that can fill in until a real coach is found.

  14. Shoe says: Sep 29, 2013 11:14 PM

    How many cliches can Orgeron say in one day? This was — as I’m sure he’d say it — the last straw for me:

    “We need to circle the wagons a bit, have some fun and let the chips fall where they may”

  15. Anoesis says: Sep 30, 2013 1:21 AM


    My list of Orgeron’s playing and coaching career simply posted facts. It was hardly any kind of “glowing report.” I did not include any kind of endorsement or rejection of Haden’s choice, but merely speculated about the possibility of Orgeron becoming HC on a permanent basis. Your opinion of Orgeron’s character is just that: Your opinion. At this point I trust Haden’s solution to the issue of who leads the team for the rest of the year since he likely knows more about Orgeron’s strengths and foibles much better than you or me.

    Orgeron had a couple of legal incidents 20 years ago in Florida that were resolved by the courts. Nobody’s perfect and I didn’t see how that was germane to the coaching facts I posted.

    If by “Reggie Bush recruiting scandal” you are referring to Bush taking benefits from an agent then I would like to know how Orgeron figures into that. There were never any allegations leveled about USC or Orgeron recruiting Bush. USC was sanctioned for not knowing Bush was getting a rent-free house for his parents in San Diego, 150 miles from the USC campus.

    The most recent articles I could find in a Google search about Orgeron’s recruiting at Tennessee were more than two years old. I don’t recall anything ever coming from what was called a potential NCAA investigation except for two self-reported secondary violations. Orgeron’s biggest mistake seems to be a single violation of the “no work-out” rule. Perhaps you could point me to something that confirms the NCAA imposed any sanctions.

    Nobody said Orgeron was as pure as the driven snow. Good luck finding anyone like that in the world of NCAA inconsistency and obfuscation. He is merely the stop gap between ridding the team of a head coach the players stopped playing for a long time ago and a new one that can connect with them.

    Despite claiming you are “stunned” that Haden would turn to Orgeron to fill the HC position for the remainder of the season, you don’t say who you would have chosen if you were the AD. I’m curious to know which assistant you think would have been a better choice.

  16. Anoesis says: Sep 30, 2013 1:34 AM


    Orgeron’s problems with alcohol is old news. Really old news. He’s been a recovering alcoholic (which means does not touch alcohol) since shortly after his legal woes at Miami, well before his gigs at Ole Miss or Tennessee. If you can list any reliable information to the contrary please do so.

  17. gatorprof says: Sep 30, 2013 8:50 AM


    Consider the fact that no one has even considered giving Orgeron a HC gig since Ole Miss. Even think about why that is the case?

    The face of your program does need to have some degree of integrity and character. These two items have always been missing from Orgeron’s resume.

    Have fun. The rest of use will continue to gawk in amazement at the train wreck that is USC football.

  18. noaxetogrind says: Sep 30, 2013 10:22 AM

    Truly do appreciate your sincere take on my post, however we may have to agree to disagree. You are correct in that no one has lived a perfect life but most of us are humbled by our past mistakes and undergo a change that results in better decision making. Ed’s recruiting issues are not in his distant past. USC was cited for a secondary recruiting violation within weeks of Kiffin arriving back on campus for displaying recruits names on the scoreboard at the colliseum during their official visits. Interestingly enough the University of Washington was cited for the same violation under Sarkissian(sp). Sark said we always did it at USC, I didn’t even realize it was a violation. Guess who the recruiting coordinator was at USC during both times? Everybody knows that rule, Ed is a guy who feels the end justifies the means and he is above the rules in my opinion based on his demonstrated track record. Walks like a duck, sounds like a duck. As to your question of who Haden should have selected, anybody else who wouldn’t have left USC exposed. How about Pendergast. Let me reiterate, from a strictly football standpoint, perhaps a good choice. However I am one of those guys who was fortunate enough to have played and coached in a major college program and I still think character development is a part of a coach’s job. You may see it differently, you may be a “results on the field are all that counts” kind of guy. I just think you can do both and I think USC with their tremendous legacy and name has a responsibility to ascribe to a higher standard. One man’s opinion.

  19. Anoesis says: Sep 30, 2013 10:44 AM


    I agree that Orgeron is pretty over-the-top most of the time and that someone in charge of recruiting should not only know the rules but actually adhere to them.

    On the other hand a rule against putting a recruit’s name on the scoreboard when he visits is typical of the draconian farce the NCAA has become. Nevertheless, rules are rules. If that’s the worst Orgeron has done lately I’d say he’s improved quite a bit.

    I also agree that a big part of a coach’s job is to help his players develop a sense of right and wrong. Looking for ways to skirt the rules isn’t exactly setting a good example, but I’d have to say that walking the incredibly thin line the NCAA chooses to draw is demonstrably difficult for even the best coach.

    At the end of this season Haden will have to decide the direction he wants to see his team go. Has Kiffin’s influence been such that a thorough house-cleaning is needed? Will a bad situation be turned around with just a new head coach? Maybe Pendergast would have been a better choice than Orgeron, maybe not, but I would posit that Haden is in the best position to make that call.

    Thanks for your response. I guess we’re really only different in that I’m willing to wait and see if Orgeron can handle his new assignment or if he’s in over his head. Others have already decided he can’t do the job.

  20. ndrocks2 says: Sep 30, 2013 12:10 PM

    Wait to the end of the season, Chip Kelly will be a perfect match after Philly realizes what they have on their hands.

  21. noaxetogrind says: Sep 30, 2013 1:24 PM

    Fair enough, duly noted.

  22. sportsguy3434 says: Sep 30, 2013 8:13 PM

    I think there needs to be some perspective on an interim HC. I think most of you realize he realistically needs to come from the current staff bc other guys have jobs already unless you want Gene Chizik, Phil Fulmer, or UConns now ex coach. The reality is that almost all of the coaching staff will be unemployed in December, and both they and the recruits know it. It is now wait and see. As long as the interim HC holds the team together that is all you can ask for now. A win or loss is not as relevant to people outside bc change is coming. They will be fine if they make a good hire and they posted a prime job opening before anyone else. Grading the hire over guys you know little about is a bit extreme. Hopefully the coaches won’t quit and focus on their next job.

  23. fahmundamahbalsaq says: Oct 1, 2013 5:44 AM


    How much time do you spend typing Bro. Holy shit I sprained my finger scrolling down the comments. Chill out! If I need a bio on a coach I’ll go to Wikipedia.

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