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Buffalo Bulls Coaching Search: Candidate Ed Orgeron, aka "Coach O"

Bull Run's series on possible replacements for Jeff Quinn at the helm of UB Football continues with a look at a long shot: Former Ole Miss and interim USC Head Coach Ed Orgeron.

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

I'm being a lot optimistic and only a little tongue in cheek with this one: Ed Orgeron could be a viable option to replace Jeff Quinn as head coach of the Buffalo Bulls. Earlier today Dave put forward Buffalo Bills Running Backs coach Tyrone Wheatley, and BRJ in a FanPost detailed the reasons that longtime Penn State assistant Tom Bradley would be a good fit.

On to Orgeron:


Name Brand:

Simply put, Orgeron is one of the biggest names out there and is instantly recognizable thanks most recently to his work in turning around USC after Lane Kiffin's midseason departure. Conrad's inclusion of him in our very first coaching candidates piece, linked in that tweet, caught the eye of Every Day Should Be Saturday, and an actual real-life hiring would be Hurley-level news, or bigger.


This isn't a pro just because of the name brand. Orgeron has been the recruiting coordinator for three stints at two schools and was named National Recruiter of the Year at USC just before moving to Ole Miss, where in his second and third offseasons he pulled in the #15 and #32 ranked classes in the country. You can bet that Orgeron would instantly provide a boost to UB's incoming talent.

Proven ability to handle head coaching:

Dave is fond of pointing out that it takes a season and a half to two years for us to get a real idea of how someone can handle the head coaching job. Orgeron's three years at Ole Miss weren't that good, and while he was more successful - with a different coaching style - at USC, it was only eight games. However, I think that Orgeron's experience juggling defensive coordinatorship and recruiting coordinatorship demonstrate the bandwidth that Dave talks about.

Furthermore, I think Orgeron's self-awareness to change his coaching style at USC speaks well to his future as a top dog. From USA Today:

Orgeron says he's learned to treat players like sons, and that he's also determined to treat assistants with respect, loosening their schedules to allow for free time. There's more, but his approach might best be distilled to three simple sentences: "Play with energy. Have fun. Loosen up."

Current availability & Proven success as a midyear replacement:

The first is self-explanatory: Orgeron isn't on contract now and could theoretically come to work in Amherst Monday. The second speaks to his 6-2 record at USC after taking over midway through 2013. Of course, if he was a little better in that role and beaten the Bruins, he'd probably still be out there.

He recruited the Rock to Miami:

He recruited the Rock to Miami.


Little experience building and maintaining a program:

Sure, things are more difficult to manage in the SEC, but Orgeron's one extended period as a head coach saw him put together a 10-25 record, and he was fired in 2007 after the school's first winless season in the SEC in 25 years. The talented recruits were there but the wins never came, which has to be concerning even for teams competing at a lower level than mid-2000's Ole Miss.

All that name and recruiting clout, but how many connections in the North?

Let's face it. We could have Nick Saban and a deal with Satan for guaranteed MAC Championships and bowl games in great destinations and plenty of southern blue chippers wouldn't come to Buffalo. Orgeron has spent just three years of his career north of not just the Mason-Dixon line, but north of the SEC footprint and USC. Those three years came way back in the mid-90's, when Coach O was in charge of the defensive line at Syracuse.

UB is nowhere close to being a program that can forgo talent from New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, no matter how many other connections the staff has, because right now there are too many people who would never consider coming here no matter what.


This is going to be a problem for just about anyone we throw out there. At USC Orgeron was the highest-paid assistant coach in the country. At Buffalo Jeff Quinn was the lowest-paid head coach in the conference. To match Orgeron's USC level, Danny White would have to find $300K in the budget.

Would he come here?

I would frankly be shocked, even if the money worked, if Orgeron were willing to come to Buffalo. It would certainly be a factor in his mind, as well, that he has few recruiting connections in the North, and after his most recent success at USC, he may be looking for a bigger fish: He reportedly turned down an offer from Nicholls State, and has expressed interest in the Kansas job.

He coached the Rock:

Despite being huge, the Rock played just two months of professional football, for the Calgary Stampeders.

Final Recommendation

I think Coach O would be a good choice for UB's next head coach. I do not, however, think that he should be at the top of White's list right now, and I don't really think that he would come to Buffalo. The main reason Orgeron is even an option is his immediate availability. If White is looking to wait til the offseason for more options, and Orgeron wants to wait until the offseason - he reportedly promised his wife a year off from coaching after being passed over for the USC job - for more P5 options, I'd be shocked if this gets done.

Logistics aside, I think Orgeron's name could bring a lot of talent, publicity, and money to Buffalo. I think his experience in bigger schools and against stronger-than-MAC competition could make him an above-average MAC coach. But I think his lack of experience in the North and weak record when he did get a chance at Ole Miss keep him from being a better choice than, say, Tom Bradley. As fun as it would be to have Coach O here, I just don't think it's the right fit.