From now on I'll be referring to Coach Orgeron as Coach Penicillin (P) in this space because he's been just what the doctor ordered for an ailing USC football program. When is the last time you heard anyone describe USC football as "fun" under coach Kiffin?
In our what have you done for me lately media cycle; the word you're looking for is never. In the two weeks of practice since Coach O took over we've been flooded with tweets and sound bites from players about how much they love football again. We've heard Coach O use words like "happy" to justify putting cookies back on the training table.
As someone who worshipped at the altar of "Brett Favre is playing like a kid out there!" for years, I couldn't be more excited for the new approach to football at USC.
Too often we fall into the trap of talking about football like it's war. The game may have been designed to rope us into that narrative but it makes us forget what it is really about. It's not about "foes" and "marching down the field" and being a "soldier."
Football is about throwing an oblate spheroid around on a large piece of grass because, contrary to what the NFL and its never-ending quest to take over the world says, its fun.
We grew up playing football because we loved it, because it was the most fun we could imagine at ten years old, because its what we did with our best friends. We don't grow up playing football because it's how we make millions or because we want our face "legally" used in a video game, we have to be taught that later.
This is something Pete Carroll understood perfectly. Fun and execution don't have to be mutually exclusive propositions in college sports. Nick Saban may be the least fun person on the planet according to anyone not associated with the Alabama program but you can bet his players love to play the game. This is not a condemnation of Lane Kiffin; I've made my thoughts clear on his firing and tenure at USC. This is the recognition of a reminder Coach O has given us all lately.
USC may take the field against Arizona and throw six interceptions. They may take the field and blow assignments and commit penalties and ultimately lose. We have no idea what this iteration of Trojans will look like. There's a new play caller for the first time in four years and a defense that was exposed the last time we saw them.
But even if Arizona wins in the same way Arizona State did, I'll all walk out of the Coliseum with a drastically different feeling than we did that Saturday. I'll walk out knowing regardless of immediate outcome this is a program back on the right track.
Football is more than X's and O's. It is more than forced media interactions and closed practices because the "enemy" might get wind of your "plan of attack." Football at its core is a game meant to be enjoyed. It is not a metaphor for war or any of the other myths we are constantly sold by money hungry organizations.
People say winning is what makes football fun but USC hasn't won a game since Kiffin was fired, and the players seem to be enjoying themselves more than ever. Open practices, a great relationship with the media, recruits moving USC up the board and cookies on the training table?
It has only taken ten days for Coach Orgeron to inject life and love back into a program that had been sorely lacking it. Turns out my doctor was right, penicillin does work fast.