University at Buffalo interim head coach Alex Wood got former Southern California interim head coach Ed Orgeron to give the Bulls players a pep talk this week.
Wood worked with Orgeron on the University of Miami coaching staff from 1989 to 1992. Orgeron took over USC last year when Lane Kiffin was fired after the fifth game of the season. USC was 3-2 at the time. Orgeron led the Trojans to a 6-2 finish in the regular season. But he was passed over for the head job in favor of Steve Sarkisian.
"Over the weekend while we were off, he happened to call me because he must have read it somewhere," Wood said of Orgeron. "He said, 'Hey, congrats, good job, you’re the right dude and all that good stuff. You’ll get it done.'"
Since Orgeron turned a tough situation into a success last year, Wood set up a video conference with him during the Bulls' team meeting on Monday. Orgeron was doing a football clinic in Knoxville, Tenn.
"So we tapped into him yesterday on Skype, and he talked to our team a little bit about his experience as the interim head coach at USC and how they came together, and how those players rallied for him and played hard," Wood said. "I don’t think they won all their games, but they ended up with a winning record at the end of the day."
"So what are friends for?" Wood said. "He was willing to do that and it worked out well. The players seemed to appreciate what he had to say. His message was spot on about working together. Still continue to develop and cultivate relationships with one another. It’s a new start in some regards. It gives you new life and new excitement about what can happen."
Orgeron, 53, could be considered a "reach for the stars" kind of candidate for UB Athletic Director Danny White. He is a huge personality known for being a phenomenal recruiter. He has worked in big-time programs since 1995 (not counting one year with the New Orleans Saints in 2008). He could be a candidate for major-conference jobs that end of the season. On the other hand, he failed in his one head-coaching gig at the University of Mississippi from 2005 to 2007, going 10-25. Yes, UB's White was at Ole Miss in 2005, and then again from 2009 to 2012. It's probably implausible that he consider the UB job. But there are only 128 of them in major-college football.
Meanwhile, Wood is preparing his team for Saturday's home game against Central Michigan. UB's top two MAC East rivals, Bowling Green and Akron, both lost Saturday.
"We’re just a win away from being in the thick of this thing, based on what happened this past weekend," Wood said. "That excites us as well. And we have a home game, and it’s senior day. There’s a lot of good things happening for us right now. We’ve just got to see our way through this particular situation."