Steve Sarkisian might be USC's new head coach, but his predecessor, Ed Orgeron, is the one the Trojans are playing for.
At least that was the case during the Trojans' victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs, 45-20, on Saturday during the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl.
During the game, several players donned visible references to Orgeron—or “Coach O,” as he is more commonly known—on their bodies and their gear:
Whether it’s a message directed at USC athletic director Pat Haden or not, one thing is abundantly clear: The players are appreciative of everything Orgeron has taught them.
Rightly so, as the 52-year-old helped save a Trojans football team on the verse of a disastrous collapse.
Through five games, the team was 3-2 and coming off a blowout loss to Arizona State, 62-41. Between the inconsistency on offense and the lack of cohesion, it was quickly shaping up to be a season from hell for USC.
Instead, after taking over for the fired Lane Kiffin, Orgeron led the Trojans to a 6-2 record the rest of the way. That included a stunning upset of then-No. 4 Stanford, 20-17, on Nov. 16.
It all added up to a strong sense of disappointment when Haden announced that Sarkisian—not Orgeron—would be taking over next season.
Orgeron may not have been on the sidelines Saturday, but the players let it be known that he was well represented on the field.
Talk about a tough act to follow for Sarkisian.