Bob DeMars said Ed Orgeron (above) berated him for attending class over practice. (Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
By Zac Ellis
A former USC player has accused Trojans defensive line coach Ed Orgeron of insulting him verbally for attending class instead of practice. Bob DeMars, who played for USC from 1997-2001, said Orgeron called him a "motherf*****" for leaving practice early once a week to attend a required class, according to Sean Gregory of Time.
“He M-F’d me all over the place,” says DeMars. “He made me feel like a bad person for going to class.”
While DeMars credits Orgeron as "one of the most brilliant defensive line coaches in the country," he says the coach's verbal assaults were a frequent part of workouts, often laced with profanity.
"He would push his brow into my head while he was screaming at me with his fist balled up,” says DeMars. “How am I not supposed to think this is a coach yelling at me and not someone trying to fight me?”
Orgeron was an assistant at USC from 1998-2004 before taking over as the head coach at Ole Miss from 2005-07. After brief stints with the NFL's New Orleans Saints and at Tennessee, Orgeron returned to USC as an assistant under Lane Kiffin in 2010.
USC did not make Orgeron available to Time, instead providing a statement from AD Pat Haden.
“While the alleged events happened before my time as athletic director at USC,” school athletic director Pat Haden said in an email statement, “I can say that all our football practices have been open to the media and players’ families since before Bob was here, and have been open to the public for most of that time as well. The transparency of practice would have brought to light this type of alleged inappropriate behavior. We also have high standards for our coaches and monitor and evaluate them as we would any of our employees.”
“Additionally, we have always been proud to support our student-athletes in a full range of academic pursuits. Majors represented in 2012 among football alone included Theatre, Business Administration, Psychology, Communications, Economics, Chemical Engineering and Political Science.”
Orgeron's treatment of players was just one example of a larger emphasis on athletics over academics, according to DeMars. Upon arriving at USC, DeMars hoped to major in the university's distinguished cinema program, but many required classes conflicted with football workouts, so the school wouldn't allow it. Instead, DeMars opted for a business major, but he was disappointed his own path wasn't encouraged.
“When I signed with USC, no one said good luck on your degree. No one said, go to school and get good grades. You’re not a student-athlete. You’re an athlete-student."