This summer, the Syfy Channel broke the Internet when they debuted Sharknado, a low-budget flick that featured D-List actors fighting to survive during a freak tornado that hurled sharks throughout the streets of Los Angeles. Yeah, I didn't quite get it either. Many college football experts were just as confused when the Sarknado touched down at USC. But the hope for athletic director Pat Haden is that their new head coach can transform the Trojans back into sharks in the Pac-12 waters.
Ed Orgeron’s turnaround of the USC Trojans as the “walk-on head coach” sparked one of the most polarizing discussions in college football. Should the Trojans consider him a legitimate candidate to become their next head coach?
The odds were long. But after his six-game winning streak, he hit a wall in a crushing three-touchdown loss to crosstown rival UCLA. Pat Haden acted quickly by hiring Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian.
Despite never winning more than eight games in a season at Washington, one of the supposed benefits of hiring Sarkisian was that his past on the Pete Carroll coaching tree would allow him to extend an olive branch towards Orgeron remaining on the staff as a defensive coach and recruiting coordinator. Fat chance of that.
Ed Orgeron "outraged" didn't receive USC job & resigns. OC Clay Helton expected to coach bowl, source told @ESPN— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 2, 2013
Orgeron has wanted to coach USC since he was a six-year-old Cajun kid in Louisiana, but he was so offended by Haden passing him over for the job or even a courtesy interview that he promptly resigned on Monday.
His next destination is a cliffhanger. As he told ESPN a few weeks ago, he’d like to be the leader of another program. However, short of winning the Pac-12, Orgeron couldn’t outrun his past. Specifically, the three-year period at Ole Miss where he went 10-25. As the dominos fall in the coaching carousel, Orgeron will have opportunities to interview for lower-tier jobs and rebuild his rep after the debacle at Ole Miss sullied his resume. He also developed a poor reputation in the coaching community his lack of X’s and O’s. And although he appeared to reform in character, his past is rife with anger management issues and tactless behavior that at times bordered on NCAA violations. The latter allegation is something USC wants absolutely no part of.
He appeared to have matured as a head coach. But in a world of Sabans, Urban Meyers,' and Malzahns, he wasn’t good enough. He had a Rudy-like quality to him over his final two-month span. But Rudy couldn’t have been an every-down player.
The hard truth is that enthusiasm alone doesn’t keep the stands filled at The Coliseum. USC runs themselves more like a pro franchise than any other program. This was just business. They need a CEO and Orgeron was a solid middle manager. His defining win over Stanford doesn’t look so great in retrospect if you take a look at Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan’s emo performance patterns.
If he’d beaten UCLA on Saturday, I suspect Haden would have at least gone the public relations route and heard Orgeron out. Either way, new head coach Sarkisian embarks on his next journey at USC in a precarious position. He's not the high-profile hire USC boosters and football fanatics would have liked. And he’s replacing a coach fans had developed an emotional bond with after he spent 13 years on-and-off the Trojans staff.
There's also the issue of USC's liquid golden boy quarterbacks to address. Even if Brett Hundley goes pro, UCLA has Asantii Woulard, the No. 1 dual threat in the class of 2013 waiting in the wings. Arizona’s true freshman quarterback Anu Solomon has been billed as a Russell Wilson prototype and Washington freshman Cyler Gray has been compared to Colin Kaepernick. USC’s quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek don't have that “it factor”.
For The Sark, it's time to sink or swim.