Without having coached a game or holding one practice as the head coach of the USC Trojans, Ed Orgeron quickly got to work on winning over the fans and media alike, and soon after, the players.
At the press conference USC held on Sunday, September 29, Orgeron hinted that USC was looking to once again allow the media to attend practices and report injuries.
Orgeron didn’t stop there as players found desserts, most notably cookies, had returned to their training table meals.
Kiffin had cut down on the desserts afforded to the team and once used ice cream as an incentive for the defense to generate turnovers.
When discussing his decision to place cookies back on the menu, Orgeron remarked “you feed a lineman a cookie, he’s happy, you know?”
After holding his first practice as the lead man on October 2, Orgeron forwent a traditional practice on October 3 and instead held the “Trojan Bowl.”
Rather than participate in a normal practice, the players atop the depth chart coached the likely candidates for redshirts and walk-ons through a full-contact scrimmage.
By all accounts players are welcoming Orgeron’s leadership style, but will it translate to improved play on game days?
There are reasons for hope, but no guarantees.
Orgeron by nature is more boisterous and Pete Carroll-esque than Lane Kiffin. Carroll’s infectious personality consumed his teams and they not only had fun on the field, but they also won, a lot.
Believing the players overall morale and belief in or affinity for their coach can affect their performance isn’t a stretch by any means.
However, it was not uncommon for players to support Kiffin and his reports of “physical” and “great” practices throughout his tenure.
This season, those practices have left USC with a 3-2 overall record, 0-2 in Pac-12 play. Did Kiffin overstate just how well the practices were going? Perhaps.
It is safe to assume Orgeron will also report of physical practices, with the difference now being the media will be able to judge for themselves.
Orgeron has everyone on his side right now. Should USC continue to struggle, will the cookies or open practices matter? Probably not.
With many having given up on the team, an us-against-the-world mentality circa 2011, could prove huge dividends.
Maybe cookies were a sign the players have a head coach who still believes in them.