Who would have thought one of the semifinalists for the Maxwell Club Coach of the Year award would be looking for work Dec. 2? That's right folks, Ed Orgeron tendered his resignation from USC Monday on the heels of the university hiring Steve Sarkisian, "outraged" he was passed over for the position, according to ESPN.com's Brett McMurphy.
Orgeron led USC to a 6-2 overall record and 6-1 against the Pac-12 Conference in his stint as interim head coach. In the process, he won support from his players and fans alike, emphasizing a style much more loose than that of fired predecessor Lane Kiffin, both on the field and off of it.
The program that hires Orgeron is getting a man who has experienced both the highs and lows of coaching. His run leading USC this season was a decided peak, evident in his interview-ending "Fight On" refrain and the success of his injury-plagued team.
But Orgeron attributed the high to his time in the valleys. He often credited his failed run at Ole Miss from 2005 through 2007 for his approach leading USC, as examined in CBS Sports reporter Bruce Feldman's feature.
Orgeron is a proven commodity as an assistant. Before taking over as interim head coach, he oversaw the defensive line—one of the program's decided strengths. He's also a ballyhooed recruiter.
However, Orgeron made no mistake about his desire to lead a program, telling ESPN Los Angeles last month he "love[s] being a head coach." As the coaching carousel begins to turn, he could get that opportunity.
Orgeron's adjusted attitude emphasizing a more fun atmosphere might play well in Boca Raton, Fla., particularly after the messy way Carl Pelini's tenure ended.
With a new stadium and prime position within the talent-laden South Florida recruiting pool, Florida Atlantic's fledgling program has high potential. Orgeron's recruiting prowess could help the Owls build a non-automatic qualifying power in Conference USA.
Kansas' athletic brass might be hesitant to make another coaching change after just two seasons. It dismissed Turner Gill just two years in, and Charlie Weis sputtered through his second campaign. Yet, the recruiting gamble on which Weis bet last offseason—targeting junior college prospects for an immediate fix—produced a 3-9 overall mark with just one win against BCS conference competition.
The Kansas job is a unique challenge. Football success there is fleeting, in part because the gridiron takes a backseat to the hardwood. Orgeron proved in his two months leading USC that he's capable of rallying a fan base. Couple that with his success recruiting in Southern California, a pipeline few in the Big 12 have tapped, and Orgeron could be the man to give Jayhawks football a source of pride.
Garrick McGee has been at the helm at perpetually downtrodden UAB just two seasons, so he may be afforded more time. However, ending the 2013 campaign with a 35-point loss to Southern Miss, loser of its previous 23 games, might not inspire the greatest of confidence in the program's direction.
The Louisiana native, Orgeron is no stranger to recruiting in the Southeast. Many of his signees were responsible for the nine-win Ole Miss teams in 2008 and 2009, and they were signed primarily from the surrounding area. And since Alabama is among the nation's premier prep football states, surely there are enough local gems for Orgeron to mine and build a winner.
There's now an opening in the Pac-12. Washington director of athletics Scott Woodward would certainly be navigating uncharted waters by hiring the interim coach his program's former head man replaced. There are much worse choices he could make, too.
Sarkisian and his staff solidified a recruiting trail from Seattle into Southern California, so the hard work of pitching the Huskies in the Southland is done.
An astronomically high, $11.3-million buyout for head coach Dana Holgorsen's contract makes a vacancy in Morgantown, W.Va., unlikely, but should athletic director Oliver Luck turn in another direction, Orgeron could be a viable candidate.
The Mountaineers have struggled with an offensive-minded head coach in their first two seasons as Big 12 members. Orgeron's defensive perspective could be a welcome change and give West Virginia a more distinguishable identity in the offense-centric conference.
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