Current USC players have made it no secret that they would like to see the interim coach Ed Orgeron become the team’s head coach, and now a group of former Trojans is showing their support for Orgeron as well.
Four former SC players — all Pro Football Hall of Fame members — told the L.A. Times that Orgeron should be high on Pat Haden’s list to replace Lane Kiffin.
Marcus Allen, the 1981 Heisman Trophy winner, is the most outspoken of the group.
“From the depths of despair, from a program that was flat-lining, he has made a tremendous turnaround,” Allen said. “Here’s a guy who cares about his players, treats them like his sons, and he wants the very best for them. So he’s going to put you in the right position to be successful.
“He wants these guys to realize their dream, but he knows the only way to do it is to be tough.”
Allen notes that USC has had its biggest success when the head coach was a strong motivator rather than an Xs and O’s guru.
“It’s people, not plays,” he said. “You always hear those coaches say, ‘I don’t care if you like me, I just want to be respected.’ I mean, that’s a joke, dude. You want respect, but you want to be liked too. Because if your players like you, they’ll give you even more.
“Coach O understands that. He’s recruited all these kids. He’s been in every single living room. He knows these kids, he knows their parents. He feels responsible, because they’re there because of him. He wants the best for them.”
Safety Ronnie Lott, and offensive tackles Anthony Munoz and Ron Yary also believe that Orgeron should get strong consideration for the job.
“Ed Orgeron showed me, and showed a lot of people, that . . . in terms of moving forward, he’s got to be considered. He’s not only got to be considered, but he should be very high on the list,” Lott said.
Orgeron asked Munoz to speak to the team before last month’s game at Notre Dame, and Munoz later led USC onto the field before a home game against Utah.
“I’d hate to be in Pat’s shoes right now,” Munoz said. “I think Ed, at least from me being there a couple of times, I think he’s done a phenomenal job. The whole atmosphere is different. Not once has he mentioned the lack of scholarships [because of NCAA sanctions]. That impresses me.
“When you hear the quarterback talk about how much he loves the guy, just going by the tweets, you can see that guys just love him. I’m sure there’s people that want the high-profile names, but I don’t know. If he wins out, he’s got to be strongly considered.”
Yary said if the Trojans beat UCLA on Saturday that Orgeron has to be at the top of the list of candidates.
“It’s not fair for me to think for Pat,” Yary said. “But if there’s a guy who’s stepping up to earn it, [Orgeron] has so far. He’s certainly turned the program around. . . . I’ve met Ed and hear a lot of good things about him from other people.
“I’m sure they’ll give him a fair opportunity to get the job. If he wins the rest of the games, I think he’s put himself up for a job offer.”
Photo: Damian Dovarganes, AP