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A CALMING INFLUENCE FRANKLIN'S TEACHING STYLE WELCOME CHANGE FOR USC.

Byline: Scott Wolf Staff Writer

Former defensive line coach Ed Orgeron was an icon around USC, a hero on Internet message boards for his booming voice and gruff manner during practices.

His departure to become the head coach at Mississippi was lamented by many, except one group: The defensive line.

``Coach O was just crazy and pretty much insane,'' defensive end Jeff Schweiger said. ``He went too far. He would throw tapes in our meeting rooms and punch through chalkboards.''

Those crazy days are gone, however, because Orgeron's replacement, Jethro Franklin, brought a teaching style that immediately earned the respect and perhaps as importantly, the admiration of the defensive line.

``You can talk to him more,'' Schweiger said. ``He's easier to talk to one-on-one. A lot more personable. Jethro is sane.

``Coach O taught the top guys and expected us to learn from them. It's more fun, there's still discipline but it's fun. Jethro also plays a lot more guys.''

Even though USC lost All-American defensive tackles Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson, Franklin has kept the defensive line from being a weakness and actually prevented it from experiencing much dropoff.

He's as demanding as Orgeron and doesn't hesitate to yell at players, but there's always a purpose behind his actions.

``It comes from my mentor, (former Fresno State coach) Jim Sweeney, who taught me that 90 percent of coaching is believing in the student,'' Franklin said. ``As a young coach, every word out of my mouth was a cuss word. But Sweeney said, 'You can't cuss them, you have to teach them.' ''

That emphasis even surprised USC coach Pete Carroll, who did plenty of research on Franklin before hiring him.

``He seems to be always teaching. I didn't know he was such a teacher,'' Carroll said. `` I knew more about his energy and he was outgoing.''

Even Carroll acknowledged that Franklin enjoys a different rapport with the players than Orgeron.

``Jethro's very hard on guys, but it's a different relationship than in the past,'' he said.

Part of the problem was that Orgeron didn't want players to see any side other than his gung-ho, hard-charging persona. It made him an excellent recruiter, but current players said the act sometimes wore thin.

``Coach O only focused on the front four, the starters,'' defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey said. ``(Franklin) encourages everybody to excel and always talks to the guys on the second and third team.''

It would be a mistake to think Franklin is easier on players. He lectured starters Frostee Rucker, Sedrick Ellis and Ramsey for nearly 30 minutes after Monday's practice for not attending a workout. And he limited Schweiger's playing time to nine plays last weekend against Washington State for missing class.

``My style is first and foremost is to teach and to reinforce the things I believe in and the values,'' Franklin said. ``Over the years, I always made sure I'm teaching the game. As long as you're teaching, it's a fail safe. A lot of guys know X's and O's, but not a lot can teach it.''

Franklin, 40, came to USC after five years with the Green Bay Packers. He was an All-American defensive lineman at Fresno State where he coached for eight years (1991-98) and also spent a season (1999) at UCLA.

Today, he seems a no-brainer choice to work with Carroll, because he coached in Green Bay with two of Carroll's closest friends (Ed Donatell, Bo Pelini) and was at Fresno State when USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin played for the Bulldogs.

``It's amazing I never met Pete until I came here,'' Franklin said.

Besides the recommendations of his friends, something else attracted Carroll.

``Of all guys I considered for the job, his guys played best on film,'' Carroll said. ``That was a selling point.''

Franklin, who aspires to be a head coach, knew about Orgeron's reputation but wasn't intimidated about replacing the long-time Trojans assistant.

``I've known Ed for a long time,'' Franklin said. ``I know everything he accomplished here and the figure he was. That didn't bother me at all.''

USC currently ranks first in the Pacific-10 Conference and 18th in the nation in run defense (107.6 yards) and is tied for second in the conference (15th overall) in sacks (24).

Franklin said his years in the NFL gave him a greater appreciation for college because of his emphasis on teaching.

``I saw guys come to me in the NFL who didn't have discipline,'' he said. ``I like college because you can give something back.''

Scott Wolf, (818) 713-3607

scott.wolf(at)dailynews.com

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(color) USC defensive line coach Jethro Franklin has helped the Trojans rank first in the Pacific-10 Conference in run defense.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 4, 2005
Words:789
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