And it will be a mistake.
Before I dive into that, first the disclaimer:
I am thankful for what Coach O has done for us this season. He has shown that he truly loves USC and is dedicated to restoring the dignity and winning tradition to the Trojan name. I have no doubt if Coach O was hired, he would stay at Heritage Hall (ed. note: USC coaches' offices are now located in the McKay Center) as long as he possibly could, a feat that even the great John McKay and Pete Carroll, who both eventually left on their own terms for the NFL, can't lay claim to. If passion was the only ingredient required to create a dynasty in college football, I have no doubt Coach O could surpass even Carroll, his mentor.
But it is not.
If Orgeron is able to pull off the impossible and beat two ranked teams in a single season (something Lane Kiffin was never able to do in his time here) with an injury- and sanction-depleted roster the fans will demand that the "interim" be removed from Coach O's title. Suddenly, Haden's decision becomes simultaneously much easier and much harder.
In his mind, Haden knows big name teams hire big name coaches. Bama got Saban, OSU got Meyer, South Carolina got Spurrier, LSU got Miles, Notre Dame got Weis (I'm glad we can laugh about this one now), and the list goes on. And while names don't translate to success (LOL Weis), to potentially preside over two SEC failures (and I know that description is harsh) in Kiffin and Orgeron as USC's AD must weigh heavily on Haden's mind.
But for a moment let's go back to our projected scenario at hand. Coach O rallies the troops and avoids a letdown game against Colorado, beating them decisively as everyone expects. He then brings the team home from the Rockies to upset the Bruins and silence their increasingly noisy fan base. The chants of "Hire Coach O" reach a fever pitch.
Haden, throughout his tenure as AD, has portrayed himself as a bit of a populist, dedicated and seemingly close to his players and the fans. Haden knows the risk that leaving behind the positive energy and emotion surrounding Coach O will present. More importantly, he surely realizes the man he brings in to replace Orgeron will not only have to succeed, he will have to surpass the success of Carroll.
Should that coach struggle or disappoint, either on the field or in recruiting, a cloud of "what if's" will develop over South Los Angeles. Fans will begin to wonder aloud what could've been with Orgeron and will not only question the new coach but Haden himself.
But this is not enough reason for Haden to give Orgeron the job. For all his fire and love of the game, Orgeron's style of coaching is quickly becoming a dinosaur in today's college game. The most successful coaches are, for the most part, offensive-minded guys who are, at the very least, comfortable calling plays. Many have said that Orgeron can be successful by delegating responsibilities like play calling to his coordinators, but today there are very few precedents of this being a successful and effective coaching model.
The closest parallel I can think of is Rex Ryan with the Jets in the NFL, which is needless to say a not very flattering comparison. The other quality you hear about successful coaches is their attention to detail, something that Saban has become famous for at Bama. While perhaps it is unfair to say that Orgeron completely lacks the capacity for detail attentiveness, it has been said his inability to manage all aspects of the team was part of his downfall during his tenure at Ole Miss.
USC needs to look beyond short-term benefits and give serious thought to its long-term plans and goals over the next few months. I am definitively not in the camp that equates Big Names with Good Names and regardless, there are few Big Names in the mix right now, but USC needs a coach with a track record of success who can guide the program for the next 12 years, not just the next 12 months.
Hiring Orgeron does little for USC's long term goals of reclaiming its status as the preeminent program on the West Coast that attracts recruits from around the country and competes for the BCS title year in and year out.
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown and for that, I do not envy Haden. The next few months will have far-reaching consequences on the legacy of the USC Trojans. This fan not only hopes Haden makes the right choice, but remembers that he has a choice.