USC defensive line coach Ed Orgeron has been named USC's interim coach after the firing of head coach Lane Kiffin, according to ESPN's Joe Schad. Orgeron had a 10-25 record during his time as Ole Miss' head coach, with most of his other stints focused heavily on recruiting. His promotion likely has to do with holding together the Trojans' 2014 class.
Kiffin's removal was announced in the early hours of Sunday morning after the Trojans' 62-41 loss to Arizona State. He was hired in 2010 after a 7-6 year in Tennessee (his first as a collegiate head coach), and compiled a 28-14 record in three-plus years as USC's head coach. USC has lost seven of their last 11 games, including five of their last six conference matchups.
Coach O has a tough road in front of him, but will luckily have a week off before game action starts back up. The Trojans' next game is a Thursday night showdown against Arizona, before a road test at Notre Dame. After that, USC has a pair of tough games against Utah and Oregon State before what should be a winnable game at Cal. The Trojans finish with two games against ranked opponents in three weeks, as an easy road trip to Colorado is sandwiched by home games against Stanford and UCLA.
The question now for USC is whether they will be able to make a bowl game. The Trojans came into the year with high expectations, but find themselves on the outside looking in in what could be the strongest top-to-bottom conference in the country. Cal and Colorado are two games the Trojans should win easily, but Arizona, Notre Dame, Utah, Oregon State, Stanford and UCLA are all very tough matchups. USC would need to win three of their remaining games to become bowl eligible.
Orgeron will inherit a very tough situation in Los Angeles, as Kiffin did not leave a lot to work with on the offensive side of the ball. Cody Kessler has seemingly separated himself from Max Wittek to win the starting quarterback job, but has completed just over 60% of his passes and has four interceptions against just six touchdowns. That was all with star wide receiver Marqise Lee, who may miss time with a leg injury. The injury left USC with just two scholarship wide receivers.
De'Von Flournoy has been out of this game also, so USC now has 2 healthy scholarship WRs: Agholor and Blackwell.— Rich Hammond (@RegisterUSC) September 29, 2013
That is representative of USC's depth issues in general, which can partially be attributed to NCAA sanctions on the program. The bright spot for the Trojans and the interim coach comes at defense -- even after giving up 62 points to Arizona State, USC ranks 42nd in the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 21.2 points per game, and 19th in the country in total defense.