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KNOXVILLE -- "A real family person."

That's how Tennessee redshirt freshman linebacker Herman Lathers describes defensive line coach Ed Orgeron.

"He really cares about his family," Lathers said. "And he treats us like we're his family, too."

This, of course, is why Orgeron's more celebrated title is that of recruiting coordinator. He has a unique way of getting close to premier prep athletes, of making them feel wanted and needed, of making them believe his employer is the only football program that could possibly fulfill their dreams.

It's why Orgeron became such a hot coaching commodity during his days as an assistant at Southern Cal, where he was named the 2004 national recruiter of the year by The Sporting News and Rivals.com.

It's also why Ole Miss brought him in to replace David Cutcliffe as head coach following the 2004 football season.

But Ole Miss fired Orgeron three years later after he went 0-8 in the Southeastern Conference and blew a sizable lead against Mississippi State in that year's Egg Bowl.

All of which brings us to this Saturday in Oxford, where more than a few of Orgeron's former Rebels can't wait to face their old coach.

"Coach O never did anything to me," Rebs receiver Shay Hodge told the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion Ledger earlier this week. "But the way I saw him treat some people, I know some guys are going to come out with real fire in their belly and get after them pretty bad."

Ole Miss needs to get after Tennessee for far more serious reasons than some type of revenge against Orgeron. Ranked in the top 10 in the preseason, the Rebs stand 6-3 overall and 2-3 in the SEC with tough contests remaining against UT, LSU and Mississippi State.

The season already has been a disappointment. Lose a couple more games and current coach Houston Nutt may start feeling as unloved as Orgeron.

But it's what defensive end Kentrell Lockett said this week that has probably stung Coach O the most.

"Great guy, but he just wasn't that head coach," Lockett said. "He was a great D-line coach, but he wasn't that head coach."

Too bad Orgeron is refusing to talk to the media until after the game.

Then again, there's nothing wrong if Lockett's right. Not everyone's cut out to be a head coach. While it may turn recruits' heads to rip off your shirt and scream "Wild Boys" -- reportedly one of Coach O's favorite motivational tactics -- it's not exactly a standard operating procedure for a head coach.

Moreover, listen to UT head coach Lane Kiffin's reasoning for why the Vols have been so solid and even this season, rather than all over the map regarding consistency of play.

"We don't ever make a game into a huge game, into a must-win game," Kiffin said. "Because if you lose it, what happens the next game?"

But you always got the feeling every game was a must-win game for Orgeron at Ole Miss. So he'd rip off his shirt, and scream and stomp, and by halftime his teams were emotionally exhausted.

Of course, maybe it would be different if Coach O ever is given a second chance to run his own program -- and he is listed also as the Vols' assistant head coach. Maybe he'd learn from the way Kiffin directs the Vols, never lifting his players too high that they might finish too low.

Or maybe Orgeron's decided it's not such a bad deal to make $650,000 a year to recruit, coach defensive linemen and spend the rest of your waking hours as a real family person.

Especially in economically ravaged America in the autumn of 2009.

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