USC interim coach Ed Orgeron was mobbed by the crowd after beating No. 4 Stanford. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
The fan support for USC interim coach Ed Orgeron has not been lost on Trojans' athletic director Pat Haden. In fact, it's almost too much for Haden to handle.
On Tuesday night, Haden told "Trojans Live" on Los Angeles' KFWB that he has been flooded with support for Orgeron.
“I counted them actually," Haden said. "I had 136 pro-Coach O emails today. Those were just emails. That doesn’t count the tweets, letters and phone calls. In my day, they sent ‘em by carrier pigeon. Now, I get ‘em four or five ways.”
Orgeron took over as interim head coach when USC fired Lane Kiffin on Sept. 29, hours after the Trojans lost 62-41 to Arizona State to drop to 3-2 on the year. Since then, USC has won five of six games, including last week's 20-17 upset of No. 4 Stanford.
Several names have been connected to the USC job since Kiffin's dismissal. Reports indicated that Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin had emerged as the favorite for the gig. Last Sunday, the NFL's Denver Broncos confirmed that interim head coach Jack Del Rio -- a former USC player -- had interviewed for the job during the Broncos bye week. No matter which coach the Trojans bring in, USC is reportedly willing to pay up to $6 million per year for its next headman.
Haden said that while Orgeron remains on USC's radar for the full-time role, the athletic director's job is to find the best man for the program's future.
“The good news is we had a lot of time to think about this thing and to really open the universe to potential opportunities because this is a really good job. What Ed had done has been absolutely remarkable. He is clearly in our eyesight. We understand. It’s not just the fans. We’re sophisticated enough and know enough about this to understand the attributes that he has and he’s a known quantity. But my job is to find the best coach of USC, not just for this year, for five or six or eight games or next year, but hopefully for five, 10, or 15 years.
"So we’re going to go through this process we have and at the end of the day, I think we’ll have a rational decision. And I completely understand that people are going to disagree with the decision I make, no matter who it is, right? So we’re going to get that. I’m fully prepared for that. My job is to try to do the best I can for USC. I love USC. I went to school here, met my wife here, my kids went to school here, my best friends are from here, so I get everybody’s passion for USC. I share it. And so we’re going to make as thoughtful of a decision as we possibly can and hopefully we’re going to find the best coach and the best fit for USC football.”
USC visits Colorado on Saturday before closing the regular season at home against No. 14 UCLA.