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franklin county times

Coach O on the hot seat

By Staff
Paul Finebaum
What happens today if the worst coach in the SEC – make that one of the worst in modern history – beats the highest-paid and most ballyhooed? -
Will the goalposts come crashing down at vaunted Vaught-Hemingway? Will the earth move? Or will it simply be one more reality check in a season of utterly shocking results? -
Of course, what's so surprising here is that an Ole Miss upset (Alabama is nearly a touchdown favorite on the road) wouldn't really be that surprising. -
Ed Orgeron, the Ole Miss coach, has no signature wins during his three lousy years, that is unless you consider a victory over Mississippi State to be relevant. -
Coach O is on everybody's hotseat list, even ahead of Sly Croom, who comes and goes but always seems to cash in a big chip. It seems every time Phil Fulmer's britches start burning, he gets right off the hotseat with a win like the one over Georgia. -
Houston Nutt is unlikely to be in the clear anytime soon but his problems are unrelated to wins and losses. -
So that leaves Coach O as the SEC coach most likely to get fired. He is 11-24 overall and 3-16 in the SEC. -
I don't know Coach O well, but my impressions from up close and afar have always been that he is among the biggest clowns to ever get a head coaching job in the SEC. I thought that up until a few weeks ago when I read a new book, entitled, "Meat Market, Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Recruiting." The book, by Bruce Feldman of ESPN the Magazine, and ESPN.com, is easily among the best sports books of the new millennium. Not only was it engaging, it was at times hilarious and frightening, seeing what really happens in the bowels of recruiting. -
But mostly, it was an eye-opener on Orgeron. -
At first, I thought it was insane for Orgeron to grant Feldman, a writer he had previously known during his stint working for Pete Carroll at USC, unlimited access during the recruiting season. Can you imagine Nick Saban letting a reporter tag along? -
However, in reading the book and speaking to Feldman, it makes you wonder if Orgeron isn't close to turning the corner. -
"He has more energy than any person I've ever seen," Feldman said. " He was fascinating to observe on this long roller coaster ride to signing day because he doesn't just wear his emotions on his sleeve, they are there across his forehead. You watch him from a distance and you see that he is very 'spoofable' because people can believe almost anything about him no matter how far fetched it might sound. He's like a character Jim Croce would write a song about, but he has a better sense of humor than people would expect. I remember seeing him read a parody about himself from an Alabama fan site to his defensive coaches one day in the spring. I'm not sure I could see many other head coaches do that." -
It is well known that Orgeron was a brawler and an alcoholic, and Feldman writes that Orgeron was open about it, never trying to push it under the rug. -
"In essence, he has traded in one addiction (alcoholism) for another (recruiting)." -
Feldman said that as rough as Orgeron can be, "you genuinely get the sense he cares about the people he works with and unlike so many head coaches he's pretty real and I think a lot of kids see that. As for his coaching, I think he's had to grow a lot in the last year. He was pretty open with me about pushing his team way too hard in his first season and some guys quit on him, a few others rebelled. Pete Carroll, who knows a lot more about football than me, swears by the guy and says he trusts him more than any other assistant he's ever had. The thing that I think is tough for Orgeron is he has a boom or bust nature and those emotional highs and lows can be tricky for a young team." -
Alabama fans are hoping today the boom can be put on hold for at least another week. -
Contact Paul Finebaum at finebaumnet@yahoo.com -