Something about the word "interim" makes USC drop their gladiator skirts as effectively as Stanford receivers dropped passes on Saturday.
It has been confirmed by the Denver Broncos that Pat Haden and the Trojans interviewed alumnus Jack Del Rio - former head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars and current substitute teacher at Peyton Manning Academy - for their vacancy at the same job on November 1st.
In a vacuum, it makes sense for any program minus a honcho under contract, let alone a dusty marquee one rediscovering its mojo, to jump at any and every opportunity to land their high-profile guy. Of course, no one can hear this vacuum above the booming sound of the Coach O songs and chants.
Upon Lane Kiffin's firing roughly seven weeks ago, Ed Orgeron was the closest man within the vicinity, grabbed and implored to stop the bleeding. Now, surrounding his 20-17 upset of No. 4 Stanford, everyone from Lee Corso to the student body that rushed the field were gushing blood. Cardinal and gold blood sopping from their toothless bellowing, chins and elsewhere. Coach O restored a figurehead football culture, if not rescued it, and it's time he is respected for such.
Granted, this meeting with Del Rio occurred before the pimping of the Orgeron bandwagon over the last two weeks. However, the NFL defensive coordinator's surface credentials fabricate this facade indicating that he's worth disturbing the on-field and locker room flow for the second time this fall.
After all, Del Rio is merely inheriting a talented and well-oiled tycoon of a roster truly led by aforementioned general Manning. The Jags have been considerably more putrid since his departure, but due largely in part to fuller overhaul of personnel and management.
The linebacker was a Rose Bowl MVP back in 1985, but I doubt anyone in this weekend's sellout crowd was taking note of the Paul Hackett disciple's lineage. Hell, he can have my diploma (although I'm still waiting for it in the mail three semesters later).
Del Rio is a fine candidate, but while flashier consonants spin the wheel, buying the vowel is what will ultimately solve this puzzle. Big-name notoriety means absolutely nothing when the Coliseum empties onto the turf and spills Cinderella glass everywhere as if they were San Jose State.
Initially I wished to vent about how ridiculous it is to storm the field or court in these collegiate circumstances. It's more hazardous than an Ahmad Brooks boo-boo on Drew Brees' face, validated by the plentiful injuries and anxiety those evening festivities resulted in, and in recent years it has been overdone and deprived of its sheen, especially now that an AQ team ,who won a National Championship just about a decade ago has executed it.
Then again, its spontaneous nature and vivacious recklessness helped punctuate coach Orgeron's short yet stocked legacy seamlessly. Witnessed by College GameDay in McCarthy Quad, the Spirit of Troy has been replenished and then some. Take a look at this series of plays:
-1st Down - Tyler Gaffney is held to three yards and is immediately substituted.
-2nd Down - Backup running back Anthony Wilkerson is walloped after a one-yard gain.
-3rd Down - Stanford calls their first timeout.
-3rd Down - False start on offensive lineman Khalil Wilkes.
-3rd Down - Stanford calls their second timeout.
-3rd Down - Ty Montgomery drops a wide-open would-be first down pass.
-4th Down - Punt.
That was the inaugural drive of the game. Stanford could neither hear nor communicate, and therefore couldn't survive. I observed from the couch, but I have not felt a Trojan atmosphere so electric since my freshman year when we were perennial (albeit waning) preseason poll sitters. The external poise of David Shaw and Kevin Hogan were fake enough to garner a belated Halloween costume contest ribbon.
That is all Coach O. His personality has refueled the entire football community, and the fans and players alike want him. Brent Musburger stated it best: "The Trojans are relevant again."
Simplicity has been unearthed once again. Even with heads missing from the hydras that are our tailback stable and front seven, the next kid in line stepped up and adjustments were constantly refreshing themselves.
The defense was as relentless as ever, and every time Stanford wrestled away some momentum, turnovers and blocked kicks plucked it right back. The offense maintained Shayne Skov and company in newly appointed play-caller Clay Helton's custom tupperware of versatility.
Cody Kessler elevated from Alex Smith to Aaron Rodgers in spots. Marqise Lee inspired amidst ailments, with Nelson Agholor opposite him in primetime stride. Blocking fullback Soma Vainuku emulated Stanley Havili and laminated the V in Victory. Bruises formed and nervous breakdowns were revisited, and yet all of this felt incredibly and intangibly easy.
Orgeron's fourth-quarter gambles summed up USC's miraculous growth. Anticipating a Gatorade bath, he located Pete Carroll's Big Balls under the cooler, a 13-yard Kessler strike to a slanting Lee on 4th-and-2 soon followed, and Andre Heidari was permitted to redeem himself with the 47-yard game-clincher. Del Rio's resume is crumpled in a garbage bag underneath the Hollywood sign.
We don't have to force commitment just yet. Invite Mr. Interim out to dinner and salivate over eligible bachelors at the next table, if extremely necessary. Nevertheless, if there is one cover letter Pat Haden should consider when the end of the bowl season come along, it's a concise one: O.