Hot on the heels of USC's 20-17 win over Stanford, USC safety Dion Bailey (who made a key interception deep in USC territory with the game tied in the 4th quarter) went on the Max & Marcellus Show on ESPN radio to talk about the changes that have taken place in the program with Ed Orgeron taking over for Lane Kiffin and turning the season around. Here are some key quotes:
On Orgeron changing the culture: "He's really made it a fun experience, bringing back the fun in the program, and just really emphasizing us enjoying our time here in the program because he knows that college only lasts for so long so he really wants us to enjoy everything."
On Orgeron incorporating guidance from outside the coaching staff: "He's brought guest speakers to the team; he's had Ray Lewis talk to us, he's had Dr. Dre talk to us, old players came back to talk to us, T.J. McDonald came back to talk to us."
On player inclusion: "We have a leadership committee on our team. [Orgeron] sat us down, he really emphasized that this time around being a head coach he wants to do it the right way, he really learned a lot from his time at Ole Miss, he asked us our input about a lot of things on the team, and he really inputted our input into the schedules and event-planning, things like that. He's always looking out for what's better for us, what makes us comfortable, taking care of our bodies. That really made us appreciate him, and from then on, guys have been behind Coach O and would run through a brick wall for him."
On Orgeron crafting the week's activities: "He doesn't really run the program as a dictatorship. It's not really his way or the highway. [...] He includes us on a lot of things that concern us and taking care of our bodies: how much we're practicing, hitting, things like that, so guys really appreciate him appreciating us."
On the players' motivation: "We're not really playing for Coach O to keep his job. We're just playing for him, in appreciation of him and everything he's done for us."
On what went wrong with Kiffin: "When the coach can't get his players behind him, results aren't what you want."
No seriously, on what went wrong with Kiffin: "He didn't include us, he just controlled everything a little too much. If you're having off the field issues, you can go talk to your coach. That's a positive relationship, that means the team's headed in the right direction. And that's pretty much what we didn't have here, and that's the reason we didn't have the results we wanted."
There's a pretty clear narrative here, one that goes beyond "hey junk food here you go" and highly visible but ultimately cosmetic changes and gets to the heart of the matter: Kiffin ran the program into the ground, and Orgeron's letting it run itself. That may not be a viable long-term solution necessarily — all it takes is a few guys to take advantage of a coach's good heart to ruin it for everyone else — but for now he's clearly exactly what his players needed.