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Southern Cal Needs to Get it Right This Time

Our suggestions for potential candidates to replace Lane Kiffin at Southern Cal.

Stephen Dunn

After Southern Cal's blowout loss to Arizona State on Saturday evening, Southern Cal Athletic Director Pat Haden wasted no time dismissing Lane Kiffin. In a cruel and disrespectful move to Kiffin, Southern Cal did not allow its embattled former head coach, to even take the team bus back to campus. Here we thought Haden was the benevolent one for publicly backing Kiffin on multiple occasions, yet it'd be difficult to work for a man who can fire you and leave you at an airport parking lot to find your own ride home.

Southern Cal wasted no time in naming Ed Orgeron, the interim head coach. Remember folks, this is the same Ed Orgeron who berated former Southern Cal player Bob DeMars for going to class. Despite the unfortunate incident and his unsavory record as head coach at Ole Miss, Orgeron should be a serious candidate to be Kiffin's permanent successor. Orgeron is very familiar with the Southern Cal culture, meaning that he'd be a great fit and is an ace recruiter; his most famous recruiting story, landing NFL first-rounder Michael Oher, being detailed in the book and the movie, The Blind Side, by Michael Lewis.

Some other highly distinguished candidates who deserve serious consideration include:

Tier 1 Head Coach Candidates

Ed Orgeron, Southern Cal interim head coach: Coach Orgeron was a bright spot on Pete Carroll's staff and was known as Kiffin's right hand man at Tennessee and Southern Cal while Kiffin was HC. An ace recruiter and a rah-rah guy in the mold of Pete Carroll, Haden should seriously consider permanently hiring Orgeron, who may be the best available fit at Southern Cal. "Good Fit" Factor: 10 out of 10. Orgeron has potential and has had success at Southern Cal. All he needs is a real opportunity and the backing of AD Pat Haden.

Steve Sarkisian, University of Washington's head coach: Coach Sark ended up being the better hire, out of the two co-offensive coordinators at Southern Cal, who ended up becoming PAC-12 head coaches. Sark has assembled a formidable staff at UW and has extensive ties to California, through his tenure at Southern Cal and many of his recruits hail from California as well. "Good Fit at Southern Cal" Factor: 10 out of 10. Sticking it to UW by poaching Sark and hiring a proven winner sounds like a win-win in our book. Southern Cal can get it right by hiring the Lemur to replace the Visor.

Mike Riley, Oregon State's head coach: Coach Riley has ties to Southern Cal, having been the offensive coordinator and QB's coach from 1993-1996. Riley has consistently overperformed and exceeded expectations in Corvallis, where he faced many challenges, including recruiting players to Corvaillis and subpar facilities compared to the facilities at rival, Oregon. Given the resources, Riley can thrive at Southern Cal. "Good Fit" Factor: 9 out of 10. Riley can do a lot more at Southern Cal than he did in Corvallis, and that's saying a lot.

Jeff Tedford, former head coach of the UC Berkeley: Coach Tedford can clean up messes. We know this. Despite all of the disadvantages at Cal, ranging from a braindead Athletic Director (hey we have one of those too!), a lack of talent from the Tom Holmoe regime, lousy fans and lack of elite facilities, Tedford was able to deliver, getting Cal within one Mack Brown plea away from the university's first Rose Bowl, since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. Kiffin recruited well and Southern Cal has better facilities, a better administration and a very bright Athletic Director. After a year off, Tedford has had plenty of time to realize what he could've done differently at Cal. "Good Fit" Factor: 8 out of 10. Tedford is a QB guru and the Trojans can really use one right now.

Tier 2 Head Coach Candidates

Herm Edwards, former NFL head coach: Edwards, former head coach of the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, has the potential to be Carrollesque. Carroll and Edwards were both former head coaches with the Jets, and we all know what Carroll was able to do at Southern Cal. Perhaps like our very own Coach Mora, Southern Cal needs an infusion of NFL into its coaching ranks. "Good Fit" Factor: 6 out of 10.

Ty Willingham, former head coach of UW, Stanford and Notre Dame: Willingham is a retread and did not find much coaching success at UW, but he also did not receive much of a fair shot because of the previous regime's recruiting misses. Willingham can do much more than Kiffin did, with Southern Cal's immensely talented roster. "Good Fit" Factor: 5 out of 10. A PAC-12 guy with ties to the West Coast, Willingham is a wild card who should be able to do more than Kiffin did.

Norm Chow: University of Hawaii's head coach: Pete Carroll never won a national championship without Norm Chow. Enough said. Chow is a QB guru who hasn't had the best PR tour since leaving Southern Cal, so perhaps a reunion could bring about some must-needed changes to both Chow and the Trojans. "Good Fit" Factor: 5 out of 10.

Jack Del Rio, former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach: Del Rio is a former Trojan linebacker who is respected around Heritage Hall. He is a bit of a wild card, as his Jacksonville teams steadily declined and ultimately led to his firing. However, an NFL guy could be exactly what Southern Cal needs right now. "Good Fit" Factor: 4 out of 10. Del Rio was a fiery head coach, and compared to the affable and charismatic Kiffin, we're not sure if the players would respond well to the change in culture.

Wild Cards

Greg Robinson, University of Texas' s defensive coordinator: If Robinson can revamp the Longhorns D, he could become a viable candidate.

Mack Brown, University of Texas's head coach: If you can beat 'em, join 'em. After wearing out his welcome in Austin, Brown could take his talents to South Central Los Angeles.

Jon Embree, former HC of University of Colorado: Embree didn't get a fair shot with Colorado. Given more talent and a vast pool of resources, he should be able to succeed.

Charlie Weis, University of Kansas's head coach: Weis can recruit and his woeful Jayhawks are showing signs of life this season. He'd be a larger than life coaching figure in a larger than life city with fickle fans.

Of course, if Lane Kiffin's successor falters, Southern Cal can always admit they made an error by not allowing Kiffin to live up to his potential by having him coach a team that isn't crippled by scholarship reductions and Pete Carroll's recruiting errors.  Perhaps Southern Cal can admit wrongdoing and ask Lane Kiffin to come back on the team bus and handle his unfinished business.