USC Now mailbag: Ed Orgeron and Steve Sarkisian, again

USC Now mailbag: Ed Orgeron and Steve Sarkisian, again
USC Coach Steve Sarkisian watches the closing moments of the Trojans' 49-14 win over Notre Dame on Nov. 29. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

In true holiday spirit, some readers want USC Coach Steve Sarkisian fired and others want to gift Ed Orgeron his old job.

My gift to you: Neither is happening. Move on!


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I think Sark is still being overly criticized as a coach from his time in Washington and still now with USC. I think Sark realized he needed to manage his players [at USC] more than he expected. Trying to keep them healthy for the whole season and be willing to adjust his scheme this season on offense a bit, we saw the wear and lack of depth take its toll on USC's execution and focus late, costing them two games this season. And without the early season distractions, and the loss of Josh Shaw, might they have won those two games against Arizona St. and Utah? Being 9-3 or 10-2?  I expect so.

My last comment is regarding Coach "O." I think his addition would be perfect for USC, assuming USC wins its bowl game. (Now that USC has BEATEN Notre Dame.)

--Travis Dempster, lifelong Trojan fan

Travis, thanks for the email.

Every coach in a Power Five conference who isn't competing for a conference title and national championship is criticized. Sarkisian isn't immune.

He turned Washington's 0-12 program around quickly, but the Huskies did not contend for a Pac-12 championship in his five seasons.

Coaches and USC's training staff did an outstanding job keeping the Trojans physically sound this season. Four players were lost because of season-ending injuries, but other players spent minimal time sidelined.

But are we really going back to saying that depth issues caused USC's final-seconds losses to Arizona State and Utah?

Depth did not keep Hayes Pullard from jumping one final time to knock down a Hail Mary against Arizona  State. It did not cause Nelson Agholor to step out of bounds short of a first down. It wasn't fatigue, either.

As easily as USC could be 9-3 or 10-2, the Trojans could also be 6-6. Remember, Stanford missed a field-goal attempt and had another blocked. Arizona missed a last-second field-goal attempt.

And are we really bringing Ed Orgeron back into the picture? C'mon. Wishful thinking has to end sooner than later. I'm about to ban it from the mailbag.

As I have stated previously, I would be shocked if Sarkisian brought Orgeron onto the staff.

And yes, I can't wait for you all to email me copies of the mailbag when this happens.


Pat Haden should either fire Sarkisian or apologize to Kiffin and Orgeron!!!

--Jessie Hobbs

Or how about Pat Haden does both?

Just kidding.

Why should he fire Sarkisian? He just hired him – and a bowl victory would give him a 9-4 record in his first season.

Is a nine-win season cause to fire a first-year coach?

He already has more first-season victories than Pete Carroll, who was 6-6 in 2001. John McKay was 4-6 in 1960 — and there's now a statue of him standing in front of the state-of-the-art building bearing his name.

As for apologies for Kiffin and Orgeron...

I wasn't there to witness the firing at LAX or the blow-up inside the McKay Center… but something tells me Kiffin is getting the last laugh (Doesn't he always?) and Orgeron will be okay.

When Sark was hired for the head-coaching job, I was shocked that he didn't seem to consider retaining the defensive coordinator or the special teams coach from the Kiffin-Orgeron team.  The special teams coach had come from Fresno State and had given SC an edge they hadn't had in many, many seasons.  The defensive coordinator called a game very reminiscent of the Pete Carroll era.  Now, both of those areas are suffering -- 13th to 66th nationally in defense? 

Where are those two ex-SC coaches, and do you think Sark has the [guts] to turn loose a couple of assistants who are no doubt his good friends in favor of coaches who can get the job done?

--Don G.

I thought that defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast and special teams coach John Baxter both did enough to be retained by Sarkisian.

However, Sarkisian opted to hire the coaches he was familiar with from his staff at Washington – as is often the case with coaching transitions.

Pendergast spent the season away from coaching, with the exception of working a couple of days with the Washington Redskins and University of Tennessee.

Orgeron spent the year at his home in Louisiana with his family and watched his son play high school football.

His name has surfaced as a candidate for multiple positions in the last few weeks, but he hasn't landed a job yet.

Where do you see James Toland in USC's football program?? I see he is No. 3 on the player charts.

--Jim Townsend

I see James Toland, a walk-on, exactly where the chart has him. He is the third tailback behind Javorius Allen and Justin Davis. If Tre Madden had not been injured, Toland would be fourth.

Toland has the ability to contribute on special teams.

Next season, he will most likely be behind Madden, Davis and incoming scholarship freshmen Aca'Cedric Ware and Dominic Davis.

Toland is a good athlete who probably could be a scholarship player in another program.