The 52-year-old Orgeron went 10-25 in three seasons at Ole Miss, but that failed tenure did little to diminish his stature as a bulldog recruiter and defensive line coach. He coached alongside Kiffin at Tennessee before following his friend back to USC.
Orgeron, a Louisiana native with a thick Cajun accent, might sound a bit out of place in Los Angeles, but he's a popular assistant coach and a USC devotee after 11 years over two tenures at the school.
"It's an unfortunate day today that a coach got let go, but we understand the circumstances," Orgeron said. "I want to tell you we're here as a staff to answer the bell. We're all accountable for what happened as a staff and as players. Us Trojans know how to do it."
Orgeron said Clay Helton will be his offensive coordinator and the Trojans' play-caller. Helton, USC's quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator, has been with the Trojans since Kiffin returned in 2010.
Most players found out about Kiffin's dismissal by text messages in the middle of the night. The players have the next two days off before returning to practice Wednesday.
"We'll try to move forward now and focus on these next eight games, really bonding as a Trojan family and getting these wins," offensive lineman Marcus Martin said.
Like the precocious Kiffin's other two head coaching jobs, his USC tenure had an abrupt, messy exit.
The Trojans' former co-offensive coordinator was an NFL head coach at age 31, a head coach in the Southeastern Conference at 33 and USC's head coach at 34. If there was a consistent trend to those stops with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee and the Trojans, it was turmoil.
With Oakland, he lasted only 20 games as an overmatched head coach before his departure became a public feud with Al Davis, the late Raiders owner. He then infuriated Volunteers fans when he left after just 14 months to head back to the Trojans.
Former USC athletic director Mike Garrett hired Kiffin away from Tennessee to replace Seattle Seahawks coach Carroll, the architect of USC's dynasty over the previous decade. Kiffin was an assistant under Carroll, eventually running the Trojans' offense alongside Steve Sarkisian, now Washington's coach.
Kiffin had nothing to do with the misdeeds committed under Carroll and Garrett, who was swiftly dismissed and replaced by Haden.
The coach still faced enormous expectations at USC — especially last season, when the Trojans started out ranked No. 1 in the country with quarterback Matt Barkley and star receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. USC lost five of its last six games, including the Sun Bowl, and Kiffin parted ways with his father, defensive guru Monte Kiffin.
The scholarship restrictions gradually eroded the Trojans' depth, and last season's struggles clearly hurt the vaunted recruiting power of Kiffin and Orgeron. Between the sanctions and injuries, the Trojans played at Arizona State on Saturday night with 56 recruited scholarship players, well below its limit of 75 and the standard 85.
Kiffin didn't help several strange decisions.
Last year, USC was reprimanded by the Pac-12 for underinflating footballs before a loss to Oregon. Kiffin also was criticized for switching jersey numbers on players in an apparent attempt to deceive the Trojans' opponents.
Kiffin even closed USC's practices to the public after years of transparency under Carroll, who embraced USC's tradition of raucous open workouts. This season, Kiffin also closed his practices to the media.
He then dithered on his choice of a starting quarterback, waiting until the third game to select Cody Kessler over Max Wittek. The offense has been largely terrible this season, but Kiffin was finally undone by another dreadful game by his defense, which had been solid under new coordinator Clancy Pendergast until Arizona State piled up 612 yards.
USC's next game is in 11 days, giving the Trojans time to regroup and heal. Orgeron still plans to hit the recruiting trail for a school in transition.
"I want our guys to believe and have a little fun," Orgeron said. "One of the things we'll do as a staff is get really close to our players, circle the wagons a little bit and have some fun for these next eight games, and let the chips fall where they may."
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