Posted November 14, 2013

USC interim coach Ed Orgeron winning with Seinfeld philosophy of ‘The Opposite’

Ed Orgeron, Pac-12, USC Trojans
Ed Orgeron's got the Trojans having fun again and in the hunt in the Pac-12 South.

Interim coach Ed Orgeron has the Trojans having fun again — and in the hunt for a Pac-12 South title. (Don Ryan/AP)

There’s an old Seinfeld episode called “The Opposite,” in which George Costanza looks at his life and realizes everything he does is wrong. Why not do exactly the opposite? Well, the same logic applies to USC’s Ed Orgeron, who was elevated to interim head coach after Lane Kiffin was fired at an airport terminal. The former Ole Miss headman developed a reputation with the Rebels for hard practices, and his disciplinary attitude arguably broke his team.

Now, with a second chance and the luxury of having nothing to lose, Orgeron’s social experiment has turned out to be one of the more impressive storylines in the 2013 college football season.

From an article by USA Today‘s Dan Wolken, it started with Orgeron embracing that Costanza mentality:

Everything Kiffin did, Orgeron undid. Every decision from team meals to whether music played at practice, Orgeron reversed. Fifteen times a day, he says, Orgeron thinks about how he would have done something at Ole Miss and then stops and goes the opposite direction.

It was clear Kiffin’s approach wasn’t working in the slightest, and the players weren’t responding. USC has been through a lot over the past few years, and losing sight of the fact that football is a game — not just a day job — can be taxing on college kids, especially if they’re not winning.

Easing up on dietary restrictions seemed to help. Treats were brought back, and other measures (like bringing the team to a screening of Captain Phillips) were taken to support the players. From ESPN:

“You feed a lineman a cookie, he’s happy, you know?” Orgeron asked.

It didn’t stop with sweets. Savory items were brought in, too. CBS’ Bruce Feldman noted that Orgeron catered Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles for a team dinner. And there was that time he surprised the guys with In-N-Out.

Now, Orgeron has actually taken a page out of Kiffin’s book and acknowledged the Spirit of Troy, USC’s renowned marching band. While Kiffin and receiver Marqise Lee delivered ice cream to the band before the season, Orgeron wrote each of the members handwritten notes in advance of the Trojans’ game against Stanford this weekend.

The results thus far have spoken much louder than food and calligraphy. The Trojans are 4-1 since Orgeron took over and have allowed just 18 points per game during that stretch. While it remains to be seen whether Orgeron will be considered for the permanent job, the fact he’s made it even a conversation is a pretty big deal.

Entering Saturday’s matchup against the Cardinal, USC has an outside shot to win the Pac-12 South. Whether or not the Trojans are able to pull off the upset, Orgeron’s approach has made a difference and salvaged what could’ve been a really sour season.

Which just goes to show you, there’s plenty of merit to the Tao of Seinfeld, after all.

6 comments
drbcool
drbcool

They don't need a big name at USC. They need a good recruiter, a good motivator, and most of all someone the players like and will work for. They have it right under their noses in Ed Orgeron. Let's hope that the AD has a good sense of smell.

j7apple
j7apple

Orgeron sure is making a case for another head coaching gig.....somewhere....


dcoxfinancing
dcoxfinancing

Kevin Sumlin has no idea what D is.  Please dont bring him to L.A.  You have to play D to win and his teams might have scored 40 plus points a game but they gave up a ton of points too.

ianlinross
ianlinross

I know it's LA and they need big name coaches, but Big Ed has got the Trojans feeling good about themselves. He deserves a chance next year (And I'm an ND fan).

AustinRoth
AustinRoth

Even if USC doesn't keep him, it sure sounds like he will be a head coach somewhere next year.

James F
James F

Will be interesting to see if Orgeron is really seriously considered for the permanent job.....if I had to guess I'd think that his success has complicated things a bit for Pat Haden, assuming that they really want to bring in a big name coach a la Kevin Sumlin.....