Ed Orgeron named USC’s interim head coach

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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.

One of FAU’s highest-rated 2018 signees won’t play for Owls

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A key piece of Lane Kiffin‘s 2018 recruiting puzzle is no more.

On his personal Twitter account very late Tuesday night, Charles Cameron announced that “[it is] with great regret that I inform you of my decision to not continue my education and football career at Florida Atlantic University.” Cameron gave no indication as to what his football future holds, including whether or not he’ll move on to another program.

The defensive tackle had transferred into the Owls from a Mississippi junior college earlier this offseason.

Cameron was a three-star member of FAU’s 2018 recruiting class.  Only one signee in the Owls’ class this year was rated higher than Cameron — fellow defensive tackle Marcel Southall out of a Texas junior college.

Prior to his departure, the lineman had been expected to play immediately this coming season.

Clemson, LSU announce future home-and-home series

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The talk has officially come to fruition.

Earlier this month, Clemson athletic director Dan Radakovich confirmed that he had been involved in scheduling talks with several Power Five programs, including LSU.  Wednesday, both of those football programs announced a future home-and-home series pitting the ACC Tigers against the SEC Tigers.

The two teams will meet first at Memorial Stadium (aka Death Valley) in Clemson, South Carolina on August 30, 2025.  The following season, LSU will play host to Clemson Sept. 5 in Baton Rouge’s Tiger Stadium (aka Death Valley).

“The series against LSU continues the philosophy we have had at Clemson for many years of looking to add another Power 5 opponent to our schedule outside of our annual rivalry game with the University of South Carolina,” Radakovich said in a statement. “We are excited about playing a school with LSU’s rich football tradition. We know our fans will enjoy visiting Baton Rouge, and we know they will provide our renowned Clemson hospitality to the fans from LSU.”

“We have put an emphasis on bringing Power 5 teams outside of the Southeastern Conference to Tiger Stadium as often as we can,” Radakovich’s LSU counterpart, Joe Alleva, said in his statement. “It’s what we want and most importantly it’s what our fans want.”

The 2025 game will mark the first-ever regular season matchup between the two schools.  They have met in the postseason three different times — the 2012 Chick-fil-A Bowl, 1996 Peach Bowl and 1959 Sugar Bowl.

The SEC Tigers hold a 2-1 edge in those bowl games.

Pair of transfers leave LSU with just two scholarship QBs

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And then there were two

Earlier in the day Tuesday, rumors surfaced that, after neither showed up for practice, two LSU quarterbacks, Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse, were considering transfers from the Tigers.  Tuesday night, Narcisse announced on his personal Twitter account that he has indeed pulled the trigger on a transfer.

The redshirt sophomore came to his decision “[a]fter sitting down and talking with my parents.” Narcisse wrote that he wants “a fresh start and be able to have an opportunity to showcase my Abilities.”

Just over 13 hours later, McMillan took to the same social media website to announce the same decision.  McMillan pulled the trigger on a transfer after meeting with the Tigers’ coaching staff Wednesday morning.

With the departures of McMillan and Narcisse, LSU is left with just two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster — presumptive front-runner to start and Ohio State transfer Joey Burrow; and four-star 2017 signee and last year’s primary backup Myles Brennan.  There are two other quarterbacks currently listed on the Tigers’ roster — Tennessee Tech transfer sophomore Andre Sale and true freshman Jordan Loving.

There is some level of good news in the seemingly dire depth at the position as, if something were to happen to Burrow and Brennan, Sale started seven games for his former FCS school before transferring to the Tigers in January of this year.  So the quarterback room has that going for them, which is nice.

As for the first of the two departed ones, Narcisse, the St. James, LA, product was a four-star member of LSU’s 2017 recruiting class.  He took a redshirt last season after enrolling early as he continued to rehab significant knee injuries he sustained in high school.

McMillan, meanwhile, has already graduated from LSU.  He’s thrown exactly one more pass in his collegiate career than I have, but would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school if that’s the tack he takes.

Alabama RB Najee Harris misses second straight day of practice

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It’s not even remotely worrisome to the point of full-blown fretting, but there’s at least a pause for concern.

Alabama running back Najee Harris missed Monday’s practice with what is being described as a lower-body injury. Tuesday, Harris missed his second consecutive day of practice because of the same injury.

BamaCentral.com wrote that “Harris was seen before practice with his leg in a small scooter so he can keep his weight off of it.” It’s believed the sophomore suffered the injury during the Crimson Tide’s scrimmage this past Saturday.

It remains unclear how much longer Harris will be sidelined, although al.com reported the injury, which that website is saying involves one of the back’s feet, will probably sideline him for the next couple of weeks of practice.  On a positive front, that same site notes that there’s a “good chance” Harris is available for the opener Sept. 1 against Louisville.

Head coach Nick Saban is not scheduled to meet again with the media until Thursday, which will likely be the next official update on Harris’ status moving forward.

Last season as a true freshman, Harris finished fourth on the Tide in rushing yards (370) and rushing touchdowns (three). He averaged more than six yards per on his 61 carries.

The good news is that, outside of Harris, ‘Bama returns two of its leading rushers from a year ago — Damien Harris (team-leading 1,000 yards) and Josh Jacobs (284) — should the other Harris’ injury linger on beyond the next couple of weeks.