Orgeron promises Ole Miss will compete

Updated: December 17, 2004, 7:31 PM ET
Associated Press

OXFORD, Miss. -- Ed Orgeron's recruiting success at Southern California helped him land the job as Mississippi's football coach Thursday.

"We are going to teach our young men to compete,'' Orgeron said at a news conference. "We're going to compete from the time we get up in the morning until the time we go to bed.''

The Rebels hope the 43-year-old Louisiana native can use his ties to the Deep South to lure talented recruits to Oxford and reinvigorate the Ole Miss program with the tough, punishing defense that became a Southern Cal staple.

Orgeron was USC's defensive line coach, an assistant head coach for two years and the closest thing the school had to a defensive coordinator -- head coach Pete Carroll is in charge of the Trojans' defense.

He also was Southern Cal's recruiting coordinator for four years.

"This is the beginning of the Orgeron era at Ole Miss, and it's going to be a successful one,'' chancellor Robert Khayat said.

Orgeron was subjected to a background search as part of the hiring process, and Ole' Miss officials were aware he was charged with repeated domestic violence more than a decade ago when he was an assistant at Miami.

"Many years ago coach Orgeron had a very unpleasant experience that involved behavior he is not proud of," Khayat said at Thursday's news conference. "[Athletic director] Pete Boone, the athletics committee and I are totally comfortable and confident that coach Orgeron is going to provide the kind of role model that we want for our program."

Orgeron had a restraining order filed against him by a Dade County, Fla., woman who accused him of repeated violence 13 years ago, said Robert Keen, a supervisor with the Dade County clerk's office.

The charge of repeat violence was filed on April 10, 1991, and a restraining order was filed the next month, records show. Keen told the AP that records also show Orgeron did not violate that order.

The woman later received a permanent injunction, Keen said, and the court order prohibited him from going to her home or workplace. The injunction was terminated in July 1992, Keen said.

"All I'm going to say is this: I'm completely comfortable with the steps I've taken to correct the mistakes in my life, and they're no longer part of my daily living," Orgeron said Thursday in Oxford.

Orgeron also was involved in a 1992 incident in which he reportedly head-butted the manager of a nightclub in Baton Rouge, La., several newspapers reported.

Felony second-degree battery charges were dropped when the manager settled out of court, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

Orgeron was fired at Miami after that incident. He spent a year away from football before resuming his coaching career in 1994 at Nicholls State.

Orgeron met his wife, Kelly, in 1996. The couple has three children.

Orgeron's hiring capped the Rebels' two-week search for a replacement for David Cutcliffe, who was fired Dec. 1 after his first losing season at Ole Miss.

Orgeron's candidacy surfaced shortly after Cutcliffe's firing. Last week, he openly campaigned for the job and called it a perfect fit for his family.

Several big-name coaches let it be known they weren't interested in the job -- including Bobby Petrino of Louisville, Tyrone Willingham of Washington and former Florida coach Ron Zook, who took the Illinois job last week.

San Francisco 49ers coach Dennis Erickson withdrew from consideration on Wednesday. Orgeron's hiring was finalized later that day, and school officials said he was the only one offered coaching post.

Orgeron has been a coach on three national championship teams -- two under Erickson at Miami (1989 and 1991) and last year at USC. Top-ranked USC plays No. 2 Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4.

Cutcliffe was fired after a difficult season in which he struggled to replace Eli Manning and refused to make major staff changes after going 4-7. Cutcliffe was 44-29 in six seasons at Ole Miss, 25-23 in the SEC, and just a season removed from going 10-3.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press