Orgeron makes his case

USC improved to 8-3 and 5-1 under interim head coach Ed Orgeron after defeating No. 5 Stanford 20-17 on Saturday night. Is the case closed, Orgeron as USC head coach?

Ed Orgeron said if he got his chance to be a head coach again, he'd do it differently.

That, he is.

After three seasons as the head coach at Mississippi, Orgeron was fired with a 10-25 record.

Now, in six games at USC as the interim head coach, Orgeron is 5-1 -- two missed field goals away from 6-0.

He led USC to its first win at Oregon State since 2004.

On Saturday, his Trojans beat No. 5 Stanford for the first time in the last four years.

Players are publicly pleading for him to be their permanent head coach and they're sacrificing their bodies on the field for their beloved Cajun.

"We absolutely love him," USC quarterback Cody Kessler said after the game. "We'd run through a brick wall for him. He has that look in his eye that you can tell than when he talks to you, he really does care.

"I gave him a hug after the game and I don't know if he'd want me saying this, but I saw his eyes water up. It's awesome when you play with someone who has that same passion."

"When you have a father figure like Coach O," linebacker Hayes Pullard explained, "treating us all like sons and putting us under his arm, we want to run through a brick wall for him."

Orgeron is now doing it differently, indeed.

"It's been a big lesson," Orgeron said after the game, on being the interim head coach. "I'm big into lessons and learning. I always tell the guys we learn from adversity and not to make the same mistake twice."

He's deflecting the praise thrown his way; crediting his position coaches and players for turning a downtrodden USC program around.

The only credit he's taken? Admitting he's learned from his past head coaching stint.

"I have a great team around me," Orgeron said. "I have some really good players."

He's seemingly mastered how to delegate tasks to members of his staff while living up to the title his initials assume -- Coach Ed Orgeron, CEO of USC football.

USC athletic director Pat Haden was asked after Orgeron's first victory against Arizona if Orgeron was a candidate in Haden's search for a head coach, "Sure," Haden said at the time.

Said Orgeron after the upset over Stanford: Obviously there is going to be a decision made here after we play UCLA. That's totally out of my hands. All I can do is work with them every day. I think everything happens for a reason and there's a greater plan. What that plan is, I don't know but we'll work together on a daily basis that's all I know.

Haden ran around the Coliseum field celebrating with thousands of fans after the win. There was no end of the celebration in sight for Haden, who watched fans engulf every inch of green, and joined in their jubilation.

There was a look of awe in his eyes; somewhere caught between enjoying the moment and wondering what's ahead.

The Trojans still face Colorado on the road and UCLA back in the Coliseum; they're both winnable contests for the now No. 23 Trojans.

And now, Orgeron's name is not only in the conversation to become the next USC head coach; he's positioned himself as a front-runner to become the permanent CEO.

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