PARRISH ALFORD: Trojans’ AD makes tough call




It didn’t matter that Ed Orgeron went 6-2 as the interim coach at Southern Cal.

It didn’t matter that he beat Stanford, that he got the Trojans back in the polls or that he won more conference games in a month than he did in three seasons as the Ole Miss coach.

It didn’t matter that Ed’s Trojans got pushed around in the season finale against crosstown rival UCLA.

These things didn’t matter in pursuit of a full-time job that Ed Orgeron had almost no chance of landing from the get-go.

As an athletics director, you just don’t hire the assistant coach from the staff you’ve just terminated.

Promoting the assistant from a winning team is another matter, and even that comes with risk.

Hiring Orgeron was a risk Pat Haden wasn’t willing to take. On Monday, he turned instead to Washington’s Steve Sarkisian.

It’s a really hard call for an AD whose credibility rides on the decision to embrace the interim coach from a former staff, no matter how popular that coach is at the school.

Ed was popular with his players at Southern Cal. I suspect he’s popular with his coaches. Winning makes everything easier for everybody all the time.



It’s the personal relationships, though, that Orgeron didn’t have a great handle on at Ole Miss. It’s not unusual for coaches to have a strained relationship with media – which he did – but that strain extended to coaches and other areas with Orgeron.

It’s odd, because recruiting is about building relationships and winning the trust of prospects. He was obviously successful in that area.

Leading a major college football team means you have to play nice with everybody, support staff, alumni … sometimes even media.

Recent published comments indicate that Orgeron is showing growth.

Sounds of regret

Orgeron fired his first offensive coordinator, Noel Mazzone, at the end of 2005, their first season. Last week while preparing to face Mazzone, now the coordinator at UCLA, Orgeron told the L.A. Times this about the offense in that 3-8 debut season at Ole Miss: “I wanted to run USC’s offense, and he had never run it before. That’s kind of hard. So he tried as best he could, but we really weren’t very good, and he didn’t have a lot of talent to work with. He had a lot of coaches that didn’t know USC’s offense, so really it was unfair to him.”

That has the ring of accepting responsibility.

It’s been six years since years since Orgeron last coached at Ole Miss.

His run as interim coach did not prove he was ready to run the USC program, but it proves he’s ready for someone else’s discussion.

Parrish Alford ( covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs at

Click video to hear audio