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    Downs & Distance

    Southern Cal players are feasting on success

    ED ORGERON: Is 3-1 as Trojans coach
    Dan Ryan/Associated Press/File
    ED ORGERON: Is 3-1 as Trojans coach

    Jim McBride’s four items of interest on this week’s college football landscape:

    The taste of victory

    Interim Southern Cal coach Ed Orgeron is no fool. He knows the way to his players’ hearts is through their stomachs. Orgeron (and shouldn’t he be coaching at Oregon?) rewarded his players for their win over Oregon State last week by having hundreds of In-N-Out burgers, fries, and shakes delivered to a team meeting Monday. The move comes on the heels of Orgeron’s decision to return desserts to the Trojans’ training table — postgame treats were not allowed under the Lane Kiffin administration. Orgeron may have been borrowing an idea from Oregon State coach Mike Riley, who treated his team to an In-N-Out feast after a win at UCLA last season, but we’re pretty sure the Trojans don’t mind being copycats in this instance. “Just wanted to thank you as a coaching staff,’’ Orgeron said as his team chowed down. The Trojans are 3-1 since Orgeron took over. Perhaps Orgeron should send a few of those famous 4x4 patties up to AD Pat Haden’s office to persuade him to get rid of that “interim” tag.

    Bonehead bounty

    Sports talk radio is filled with knowledgeable personalities who create lively debates and entertain thousands of listeners (there’s even some in Boston). But those same airwaves also are filled with knuckleheads who will say or do anything outrageous to keep themselves and their program relevant. Well, happily, there is one less knucklehead out there after WMEN in Miami fired Dan Sileo this week after Sileo tweeted a picture of Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan along with an offer of $1,000 to anyone who “takes this kid out.” Predictably, Sileo, a former player at Miami, said his tweet was a joke — after he started to come under fire. Hey Dan, not funny. Since his dismissal, Sileo has been an active tweeter, sending off a series of nonsensical missives (but no apologies) blaming his beloved U for being the force behind his firing and suggesting he has received death threats from FSU fans. He also said he fears for his daughter’s safety. Timmy Jernigan’s safety? Well, not so much.

    Kill switch

    Jerry Kill has a reputation as a great coach and a great teacher. As a patient, however, Kill was the one who needed guidance. The Minnesota coach, an epileptic who has suffered several seizures (including some on the field) over the last few seasons, has always rushed his way back to the sideline. Now, however, he is taking a slower approach after his latest episode. With his 7-2 Gophers riding a three-game Big Ten win streak, Kill has decided to stay upstairs in the booth rather than roam the sideline for Saturday’s game against Penn State. Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will call the shots at field level. “I guess I’m the CEO right now,’’ Kill told reporters. “Sometimes you have to be smart enough as a person to know when you need help and you need to change some things. I’m trying real hard to do what I’m told for the first time in 30 years. But it doesn’t mean I can’t coach and it doesn’t mean I’m not coaching.’’ You may not be a fan of the Gophers, but it’s pretty hard not to root for Coach Kill.

    Gain in Maine


    It’s almost winter (sorry for the reminder; I’m no fan of 26-degree mornings this early in November, either) but there’s a pack of New England bears who clearly aren’t ready for hibernation time. The Maine Black Bears ran their record to 8-1 (5-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association) last week with a win over Stony Brook. The Bears, who have won five straight, have lost only to FBS foe Northwestern and own a win over UMass, another FBS school. Coach Jack Cosgrove’s squad sits at No. 8 in The Sports Network top 25 FCS poll. Leading the way is the maniacal Marcus Wasilewski of Kulpmont, Pa. The senior quarterback has thrown for 2,251 yards and 17 TDs. Among his top targets are John Ebeling, Derrick Johnson, and Justin Perillo, all of whom have more than 400 yards receiving. Nigel Jones (489 yards) and Rickey Stevens (396) have led the rushing attack. Among the stalwarts on defense are linebackers Christophe Mulumba (74 tackles, 2 INTs) and Cabrinni Goncalves (64 tackles, 3 sacks).

    Jim McBride can be reached at