By Mitch Chortkoff
After USC routed California Saturday, scoring 62 points, I began hearing from Trojan fans who asked the same question.
They wanted to know if Ed Orgeron has a chance of remaining as the Trojans' coach beyond this season.
I consider it a worthwhile topic because I've respected Orgeron since he became a Trojan assistant coach, became a head coach at Mississippi, then returned to the Trojans as an assistant and recruiting co-ordinator.
It's obvious he's been an improvement over Lane Kiffin this season after Kiffin was fired and Orgeron became a popular replacement
My summary analysis is he's a good man, highly respected by players and a true asset to the university.
But the question is this. Would USC keep him as head coach when many Trojan backers expect a bigger name, someone who's had success as a head coach?
It may come down to what happens when USC plays Stanford Saturday and then plays UCLA.
It wouldn't be a surprise if the Trojans lose both games. Stanford has beaten Oregon and ranks among the top five teams in the nation. USC is hampered by an NCAA-mandated penalty limiting scholarships. With injuries, the Trojans are undermanned.
UCLA beat USC last season and has made considerable progress in Jim Mora's two years as coach.
But this is what's wonderful about sports. You never know what's going to happen.
Some USC authorities I know believe Orgeron has to win at least one of these games to have a chance of getting a new contract from the university. Some others believe he has to win both games since he's a longshot to keep the job.
Two losses would likely eliminate him.
Athletic Director Pat Haden has been adamant that a coaching search wouldn't be proper during the season. He said the players, particularly the seniors, deserve the full attention of the university.
I applaud Haden's stance. But for the important matter of recruiting, USC must name a coach as soon as possible. Highly recruited high school stars aren't going to commit to a school that hasn't decided on a coach.
USC fans are used to a team in contention for a major bowl game and a top 10 ranking. USC is currently trying merely to crack the top 25.
The Stanford victory over Oregon was convincing and in recent years these two schools have dominated the Pac 12.
USC fans expect the Trojans to be competing on that level, but it probably won't happen until the full scholarship limit is restored
The Trojans still get quality players but not enough of them.
Is Orgeron the coach to guide the Trojans back to the top? We'll know soon.