USC Football: Will Winning Complicate The Future?


Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Under Lane Kiffin in 2013, USC found itself with a 3-2 record and winless in conference play.

After the debacle in Tempe, Ariz., Kiffin was fired and the beloved Ed Orgeron was named the interim head coach.

Since taking over, Orgeron has led the Trojans to a 3-1 record, and is two missed field goals, or one dropped touchdown pass from being 4-0.

On the heels of a dominating victory over Oregon State, the Trojans could notch their third consecutive win when they face Cal on Nov. 9.

A win over the Golden Bears, and suddenly the Trojans may be back in the thick of things in the Pac-12 South.

Should that come to fruition, the Trojans would enter their Nov. 16 tilt against Stanford with an overall record of 7-3, and sit at 4-2 in Pac-12 play.

Defeating the Cardinal certainly should not be presumed as a given, but they do appear vulnerable.  If the Trojans are able to pull off the upset, they would next face Colorado, who are still struggling to acclimate themselves to the conference.

After the matchup against the Buffalo, the crosstown rivalry would be the final regular season game on the Trojans’ schedule.

With some momentum, USC could conceivably be considered the favorite to win that game.

While there is still plenty of football left to be played, should the Trojans finish the regular season with nine or 10 wins and a respectable bowl appearance, support for Orgeron to be named the head coach would surely rise.

On paper, that support would be more than warranted.

Thus far, Orgeron has done a commendable job of righting the ship and keeping the players focused and motivated.

He did snapped a streak that Pete Carroll and Kiffin couldn’t.

However, the recent change at USC may be likened to a substitute teacher being more popular than the permanent one.

USC seems intent on making a “big name” hire.

There is light at the end of the tunnel with respect to the NCAA sanctions, which means the fan base will likely expect continued improvement on the field.

USC’s recent track record with football coaching hires doesn’t provide any clues as to the direction athletic director Pat Haden may go in.

Haden most recently hired Andy Enfield as USC’s basketball coach after Enfield led Florida Gulf Coast University on an improbable run in the men’s NCAA basketball tournament.

Enfield hasn’t quite become a household name, but the hire generated a considerable amount of buzz given what he did with FGCU.

The last time USC was in need of a head football coach, then-athletic director Mike Garrett chose a name in Kiffin.

Kiffin had rocky tenures with the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee Volunteers, but he was nonetheless a recognizable name.  Albeit perhaps for the wrong reasons.

The next question that needs to be asked is if USC truly needs the big name they are purportedly in search of.

The hire that preceded Kiffin’s is Carroll’s.  Carroll was infamously Garrett’s sixth choice and was far from a splash hire.

Years later, Carroll turned out to be one of the best coaches in the history of Trojan football.

Without discrediting his career accomplishments, Orgeron wouldn’t necessarily fit the bill of a buzz-worthy hire.

Although, winning the remaining four games on the schedule, a potential Pac-12 title game, and the Rose Bowl, would certainly change that.

The odds of that happening however, are minimal.

A positive of firing Kiffin early on is Haden has been able to evaluate coaches, knowing that he needs to make a hire.

Whether or not that leads to Orgeron being chosen or going with someone else who may draw more publicity, remains to be seen.

Regardless of what decision is made, Orgeron needs to be kept on the staff at all costs.

His skills as a defensive line coach and recruiter are invaluable, so too is his ability to connect with the players.  He is synonymous with USC.

USC finds itself with in a situation where the correct hire could send the program back in the right direction, and the wrong one could keep them stuck in mediocrity.

A marquee name would be welcomed, but would it be the best decision?

Should USC promote Ed Orgeron or move in a different direction?

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