Orgeron shakes pecan tree to Rebs’ top job

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 17, 2004

[12/17/04] Six-year-old Ed Orgeron stood under a pecan tree in South Louisiana looking skyward and waiting for the nuts to tumble to the ground.

His grandpappy, whose land the tree was on, told him in Cajun French to climb the tree and start shaking the limbs. He did as his grandpappy told him and pecans began falling to the ground.

If you want something, his grandpappy told him, you got to go get it.

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

On Thursday morning, 37 years after shaking that pecan tree, Ed Orgeron got what he wanted the head coaching job at Ole Miss.

The University of Southern California defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator accepted the job with lofty goals, a passion for defense and an unyielding commitment to winning. He received a four-year contract the maximum allowed under state law but terms were not disclosed.

“We will turn this into a championship program,” said Orgeron, who will be the Rebels’ defensive coordinator as well as head coach. “I am glad to be coming home and to build a team we can be proud of at Ole Miss.”

Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone, who said only one job offer was made in the two-week search, said he could tell the kind of coach he hired the first time they met.

“When (UM Chancellor) Robert (Khayat) and I first met Ed, he took charge,” Boone said. “I thought I was in charge, Robert thought he was in charge, but Ed was in charge.

“He had us down in 3-point stances showing us how the defenders line up and everything. I was pretty sore after that.”

Judging by his first day in Oxford, his players will be mighty sore when practice comes around.

“We will demand great effort from everyone,” Orgeron said.

He said he will bring an aggressive, fly-to-the-ball defense that has transformed Southern Cal into one of the best defenses in the country. He will bring and unpredictable offense that centers around the quarterback picking apart mismatches. Every coach on his staff will help with special teams.

The one-hour press conference, held at Ole Miss’ indoor practice facility, frequently was interrupted by loud applause.

“We will not settle for mediocrity at Ole Miss,” Khayat said. “We are a leader in this state, in the southeast and around the country. We will always strive for excellence.”

Orgeron spent the last six seasons in Southern California and will coach the Trojans in the national championship game on Jan. 4 at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

He plans to begin recruiting immediately, then blanket the state after the Orange Bowl.

“We will recruit Mississippi hard, giving it everything we have,” said Orgeron, who said “Coach O” would suffice. “The biggest thing is to get the right players in the right spots.

“Mississippi will be our home-base for recruiting.”

Orgeron has attracted three highly touted recruiting classes over his last three seasons at USC, and this year he earned National Recruiter of the Year as chosen by The Sporting News and rivals.com.

“I really believe one of the most important jobs I have is teaching these boys how to become men,” Orgeron said. “We want them to be proud of coming to school at the University of Mississippi and want them to be proud of being a part of this football program.”