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  • COLLEGE FOOTBALL

    Haden must sidestep rush to hire Orgeron

  • LOS ANGELES — Take a deep breath, Trojans Nation. The canonization of Ed Orgeron is premature.
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  • LOS ANGELES — Take a deep breath, Trojans Nation. The canonization of Ed Orgeron is premature.
    At least two games premature, to be specific.
    Nothing should detract from what Orgeron has done. His mop-up duty for Lane Kiffin has been spectacular. Beating Stanford on Saturday night was beyond surprising. Remember, these were basically the same players who lost to Washington State. At home.
    Orgeron has filled the Coliseum once again. He has his players loving their school and their team again, not to mention loving him. The night he won his first game as the new head man, beating Arizona at the Coliseum, his quarterback, Cody Kessler, told the media afterward that USC players would die for Coach O.
    The reaction after the victory over Stanford on the Trojans' 710 radio network Saturday night was that USC's football coaching search was over. Orgeron was the man. No more questions, no more search.
    Many in the media joined the masses. ESPN.com headlined one of its stories: "Ed Orgeron Only Choice for USC."
    It was a postgame rush, flush with the joy of the moment. In six games, five of them victories, Orgeron had become Vince Lombardi.
    Even Orgeron would chuckle at that.
    Again, the message here is, calm down everybody. There is much left to play out. There are games against Colorado and UCLA, followed by a bowl season that could include USC as a prominent participant.
    This is all great, exactly what Orgeron's work as USC's head coach has been so far.
    Nobody other than Pat Haden, and probably his sidekick J.K. McKay, knows whether Haden had even the slightest thought of eventually elevating Orgeron permanently when he changed coaches a little more than seven weeks ago. It didn't matter then.
    Haden's action in the middle of the night, dismissing Kiffin after the Arizona State debacle, was merely to stop the bleeding. He saw Orgeron as the best tourniquet, and he has been proved correct.
    It is interesting that much of the same Trojans Nation that cursed Haden for hanging onto Kiffin for as long as he did — and many mistakenly cursing him for hiring Kiffin in the first place, which he did not — are now telling Haden what he must do with Orgeron.
    It is the amusing nature of being a sports fan that turns responsible, deep-thinking and successful people into 1-year-olds, eating Cheerios and banging on the highchair tray.
    It is also the amusing nature of our pace of life that demands all things happen right now. Tweet it and it is done.
    Slow down. Let it play out, folks. Suck on those pacifiers for a couple of weeks more.
    Of course Orgeron will get a long look from Haden. He might have even if he had gone 1-5 instead of 5-1. This hire could easily be Haden's legacy. Most athletic directors get one, maybe two shots at this in their reign. Haden will turn over every stone, ponder every angle.
    There is so much to consider beyond 5-1 and beating Stanford, or even beyond the possible 8-1, beating Colorado and UCLA and even winning a major bowl.
    If Orgeron is the man of the moment, is he also the man of the next 10 years? Is the players' unrestricted loyalty and affection an absolute plus, or even a negative? Giving great weight to the opinions of 18- and 19-year-olds is seldom a good way to anoint your football CEO.
    There is much chatter about how Orgeron's record has made Haden's job so much easier. It hasn't. Nor has it made it more difficult. The process will be the same. The vetting will be the same. The determining factors for the future that were there when Kiffin was shown the door are still there.
    Who can best do this on a high level for the next eight to 10 years? What are USC's special needs? A master of Xs and Os? Or a master at delegating who can dazzle The New York Times and the local Rotary Club while still winning a lot?
    Does USC, a football program with top-five national stature, need to match that with top-five national names along the lines of a Nick Saban or Urban Meyer? How do you identify the next John McKay or John Robinson? Or do you need to? Indeed, might his name be Orgeron?
    Haden knows what he wants, and he's paid to get it.
    Orgeron certainly knows what he wants too, and his only danger is attempting to coach now for the sole purpose of getting hired, rather than the sole purpose of continuing to carry this interim torch with the same kind of devotion and loyalty to USC. That alone will speak volumes to Haden.
    In the meantime, the rest of us need to cool our jets. USC President Max Nikias didn't hire Joe from Van Nuys or Tom from Long Beach, or even yours truly from the L.A. Times, to hire coaches. He hired Haden, who is more than capable.
    The time will come. The decision will be made. If it is Orgeron, we will know why. If it isn't, we will be told why.
    Until then, let's just enjoy the stunning run that has happened before our very eyes. If it were a movie, they'd title it: Ed Orgeron, King of the Interims.
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