Why USC should not hire Ed Orgeron as its head coach

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Fresh off USC’s 20-17 upset of No. 5 Stanford on Saturday night, calls are coming from media, fans and some Trojan players for interim head coach Ed Orgeron to be hired as USC’s permanent head man going forward.

Besides the fact that some of these sentiments are self-serving (media people love talking to Orgeron and having him as a head coach again would make for good copy), they are also filled with the same type of fuzzy-headed thinking that got USC into this mess in the first place.

Let’s go over the reasons why Orgeron should not be hired:

1. Ole Miss

Orgeron was 10-26 in his three seasons as head coach at Mississippi. You can’t just blame his record on the average program that he inherited. David Cutcliffe went 43-29 in the six seasons before Orgeron arrived and Houston Nutt went 24-26 in the four seasons after he was fired. Orgeron was uniquely bad, even by Ole Miss standards.

The counter argument to this is that Orgeron has learned and changed from his time in Oxford. But is a 5-1 record as an interim coach evidence of that? Being an interim coach is a unique situation. USC has benefited as much by Orgeron being not-Lane Kiffin than anything else. The Trojan roster is immensely talented and the fact that Kiffin isn’t around to screw it up anymore is a huge factor in the team’s recent success. That Orgeron has been competent enough to manage that talent and smartly surf the wave of good will that has emerged out of the sudden coaching change is without question. But what about three years from now when the circumstances have changed, when three recruiting cycles have passed and the shtick has worn off a bit? Will Orgeron have a quality staff in place? Will he run an innovative offense? Based on his past, the answer to those questions is probably no. At best, there is zero evidence that Orgeron has the long-term vision to guide an elite program like USC and keep it elite.

2. Better coaches are available

USC is bad at hiring head coaches. Historically bad. The last time it found a marquee national name for its head job was back in 1925 when it hired Howard Jones away from Iowa. It has hired 12 coaches since Jones and every one save two have had some sort of connection to USC, an indication that the path of least resistance is generally preferred by Trojan administrators. USC lucked out with John McKay and Pete Carroll, but otherwise its batting average is under the Mendoza line.

Recent reports indicate that USC athletic director Pat Haden is taking a different approach this time. Proven college coaches like Kevin Sumlin and Chris Petersen are reported to be in the running for the position. Either of these two coaches would be fantastic hires by USC and would likely have the Trojans competing for national titles for years to come. But with Orgeron’s recent success, the danger is that Haden will get swept up in the tyranny of the crowd and be forced to make a short-sighted decision. Haden should resist the urge to take the easy route — isn’t that how Kiffin got hired in the first place? — and continue to do his due diligence with a clear head and a healthy dose of critical thinking.

The issue here isn’t whether Orgeron can be successful as USC’s head coach. With the talent and resources available to him, he might win 45 games over the next five years. Almost any competent coach would do the same. The issue is whether Orgeron is the best coach available to make USC as successful as it can be. Would Ohio State have won 22 in a row (and counting) with Luke Fickell as its head man?  No. Ohio State didn’t settle. Neither should USC.

3. Players, fans and alumni shouldn’t decide on the coach

“He deserves it,” the player said. “A great man. A great coach. All the players respect him and all the players love him. You couldn’t ask for a better man to lead us to victory today.”

One player called the coach the ”glue” that kept the team together during a rocky month.

”We’re a family,” the player said. ”That’s why we prevailed.”

“He’s just such a good person and the kids love him,” said the former coach. “His hire is such a good fit with the program.”

“I’m a little more settled in. I’m a little more laid back and I’m a little more wise,” said the coach. “It’s called maturity. I’ll be as demanding, but I found out there’s other ways to get the results.”

Are these recent quotes from USC players and former associates? They might as well be. No, these are quotes taken in 2008 after West Virginia took the interim tag off of Bill Stewart and named him its permanent head coach. Stewart was also a beloved figure who understood the program and who was lauded for guiding the team through a difficult period. But there was no evidence that Stewart knew how to be a successful head coach and it showed. Three years later he was fired.

Just because Orgeron is beloved by his players does not mean those players know what’s best for the long-term at USC. Being a head coach is about more than firing up the team, singing the fight song and cavorting with the fans. That Orgeron has played up this factor during his interim tenure is a testament to his wiliness and understanding of the environment at USC. He’s done a fantastic job of building all kinds of good will — after all, he knows his best shot at getting the job is to gain as many allies as possible. But at the end of the day, the Trojans don’t need to pay $6 million for a cheerleader.

To reiterate, Orgeron has done a fine job as USC’s interim coach. But he hasn’t ‘earned’ the job anymore than Gerald Ford ‘earned’ the Presidency after taking over for Richard Nixon. With millions of dollars at stake over the next five to 10 seasons, and the four-team playoff about to debut, the Trojans need to keep their eyes on the prize. If the superior coaching alternatives out there end up turning USC down, perhaps Orgeron should be considered.  But, until then, his tenure as Trojans head coach should have an expiration date.

Accused of sexual assault, ex-Florida QB Jalon Jones transfers to FCS

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As he looks to repair his image amidst disturbing allegations, Jalon Jones will do so at a lower level of football.

According to 247Sports.com, Jones has moved on to the FCS level and will continue his collegiate playing career at Jackson State.  The move comes a little over three weeks after the quarterback decided to transfer from Florida.  It also comes after Jones saw his name prominently displayed in headlines across the country for all of the wrong reasons.

In early May, multiple media outlets reported that Jones had been accused by an unnamed female of sexually assaulting her in the early morning hours of April 6.  It was subsequently unearthed that another unnamed female had accused the UF quarterback of sexually assaulting her that same day as well at the same on-campus residence as the first alleged victim.

Both of the alleged victims are friends and students at the university, although neither has pursued charges.  That doesn’t mean Jones is free and clear as police reports connected to alleged incidents will be forwarded to the state attorney’s office, which will investigate the case before determining whether to charge Jones with any crimes.

Jones was a four-star 2019 signee, rated as the No. 10 dual-threat quarterback in the country on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  An early enrollee, Jones participated in spring practice with the Gators.

As Jackson State plays at the FCS level, Jones will be eligible to play immediately for the Tigers — provided there are no legal implications connected to his off-field issues.

Minnesota new home for Michigan transfer Benjamin St-Juste

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Benjamin St-Juste may have left Ann Arbor, but he hasn’t left the Big Ten.

Taking to Twitter Tuesday night, St-Juste announced that he will be continuing his collegiate playing career at Minnesota.  As a graduate transfer, the cornerback is eligible to play immediately for the Golden Gophers in 2019.

Not only that, but St-Juste will have two more years of eligibility after this season as he graduated from his previous school in less than two-and-a-half years.

In late March, Michigan confirmed that St-Juste, who dealt with hamstring issues last year, had decided to medically retire from the sport.  A little over a month later, the cornerback took to social media to announce that, instead, he would be entering his name into the NCAA transfer database while also disputing that he had retired from playing football as U-M had originally claimed.

A four-star 2017 signee, St-Juste was the No. 39 cornerback in the country coming out of high school in Canada.  After playing in 12 games as a true freshman, the 6-3, 196-pound corner didn’t see the field at all due to the hamstring issue.

Mizzou QB Shawn Robinson alleges mistreatment at TCU in appeal for immediate eligibility

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In early 2018, Kolby Listenbee, a former wide receiver at TCU, filed a lawsuit taking aim at the university and Big 12 for alleged abuse and harassment he claims never allowed him to fully recover from an injury that may have impacted his outlook for a playing career in the NFL.  Earlier this month, that lawsuit was settled.

Nearly three weeks later, TCU is back in the headlines with additional, albeit vague, mistreatment allegations.

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Shawn Robinson, who transferred from TCU to Missouri late last year, has filed an appeal with the NCAA that would grant the quarterback a waiver for immediate eligibility in 2019.  The waiver claims Robinson was the victim of unspecified mistreatment during his time with the Horned Frogs; “TCU is contesting the grounds that waiver is supported on,” the Star-Telegram wrote.

The Kansas City Star further adds that TCU is not expected to object a favorable ruling for Robinson, but “is determined to defend itself against Robinson’s accusations.”

Regardless of what happens during Robinson’s appeal process, Mizzou will head into the summer portion of the 2019 offseason with Kelly Bryant, a transfer from Clemson, firmly entrenched as the Tigers’ starter under center.  If Robinson’s appeal is successful, though, he would provide a veteran presence as the backup should something happen to the starter.

Robinson, who has another year of eligibility he can use in 2020 irrespective of the appeal, completed nearly 61 percent of his passes this past season for 1,334 yards.  He averaged just 6.5 yards per attempt, though, and had nine touchdowns versus eight interceptions in his 204 attempts.

South Carolina in play for Clemson transfer RB Tavien Feaster

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This would certainly add a little bit of spice to the annual Palmetto Bowl if it were to come to fruition.

Late last month, and amidst rumors of a potential departure, Clemson confirmed that Tavien Feaster had entered the NCAA transfer database and was looking to continue his collegiate playing career at somewhere other than the home of the defending national champions.  Speaking to the Charleston Post and Courier this week, Feaster acknowledged that Clemson’s in-state rival, South Carolina, is one of a handful of schools that have shown interest.

“They are recruiting me like most teams. Obviously, they want to talk to me and see where I’m at with everything,” Feaster told the Post and Courier. “That’s really how it’s been with everybody. Everybody is seeing where my head is and where I’m at with everything. But, I look at it (USC) as a place that’s providing me with an opportunity to better myself and better my future.

“I haven’t really looked at it from a fan’s aspect because that’s not my job and that’s not what I’m doing it for. That doesn’t really matter to me. What really matters to me is that I go to a place that’s going to use me and play me in the way that I need to be played.”

It had previously been reported that Power Five programs such as Alabama, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia Tech had already been in touch with the running back since he entered the portal.  East Carolina has shown interest as well.

Feaster has not yet taken any visits to potential landing spots, and won’t make a decision on his football future until he’s had a chance to take trips to various campuses.

If he follows through with the transfer — the back has the option of pulling his name from the portal — Feaster would finish the Clemson portion of his playing career with 1,330 career rushing yards and 15 touchdowns on 222 carries, as well as 183 receiving yards and one touchdown on 23 receptions.  The Spartanburg, SC, native, who ran for 11 yards on three carries in the Tigers’ title game win over the Crimson Tide, started 11 of the 41 games in which he appeared for the Tigers.

In the Tigers’ 63-9 win over the Gamecocks last season, Feaster ran for 63 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.  In three career games against the SEC’s USC, The back carried the ball 21 times for 117 yards and a pair of scores.  He also caught three passes for another 19 yards.

As a grad transfer, Feaster would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school.  The upcoming season will be the back’s final year of eligibility.