(Editor's note: This is the first of a nine-part series as the News Sentinel takes a closer look at Tennessee's new assistant football coaches.)
A shirtless, muscular recruiting guru with a Red Bull in his hand is what most envision when they think of Ed Orgeron.
Yet there's more.
Energy drink or not, Orgeron was at one time considered one of the best defensive line coaches and recruiters in the nation. Everything changed following a tumultuous three seasons as coach at Ole Miss, where he was mocked for his energetic style.
Orgeron quickly became a caricature of himself.
Sure, Orgeron is excitable. Yet his peers consider him an aggressive, hard working, ultra-organized recruiter.
If the 47-year-old can have some success in his first season at Tennessee and add to his resume, Orgeron could soon replace his long title at UT (assistant head coach/recruiting coordinator/defensive line coach) with a much shorter title (head coach).
Orgeron's former boss, Southern California coach Pete Carroll, quickly dismissed the notion that Orgeron is a recruiter first and everything else second.
"There's no way," Carroll said in a e-mail to the News Sentinel. "They don't know who he is. He's a great coach and a great recruiter for the same reasons.
"He understands the whole business of recruiting and has a great passion for it and will compete as well as anyone. But he takes that same energy and drive to coaching. He helped develop many top-level guys for us."
Will work for college
Orgeron was fired at Ole Miss following a 10-25 record from 2005-07.
After the most disappointing time of his career, Orgeron was more than ready for the comparatively relaxed life of an NFL assistant coach than he ever thought he would be.
No more recruiting calls. No more dealing with boosters and media pressure. Just football and some well-deserved family time in his one season as the New Orleans Saints defensive line coach in 2008.
But relaxing soon turned to boring - at least from someone's point of view.
"I like the NFL but my wife thought I was bored," Orgeron said. "I was just coaching the defensive line, didn't have a lot of say in the defensive scheme. There was no recruiting. I had a lot of time off. I've never had a lot of time off like that."
When Orgeron wasn't coaching, he was likely working out or with his family.
More mature and dedicated than ever before, Orgeron was doing great personally. Past public transgressions were long gone. Dues had been paid.
Professionally, that was another story.
"There was something missing," Orgeron said.
Orgeron was missing the organizational challenges of coaching, such as putting together a recruiting plan or scripting practice - duties that he lost when Ole Miss fired him.
"College coaching is a lot harder than the NFL," Orgeron said, almost with a sense of pride. "I'm not one for idle time. I don't like idle time. I like the passion. I like the energy, the fans and stuff like that.
"I enjoy college football."
First-year UT coach Lane Kiffin understands Orgeron's passion through their time coaching together at Southern California.
"You don't want to underutilize him," Kiffin joked. "He's less productive when you do that with him."
Right (hand) man
Following the conclusion of the Saints' season, Orgeron was off to Destin, Fla., for a beach trip with his family.
Kiffin and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin quickly interrupted. The two were determined to secure Orgeron's services for UT.
UT had the money (eventually $650,000 for the first year) but Lane Kiffin had to offer more. The title - and duties - of assistant head coach were a must.
Lane Kiffin, 33, had no problem with either.
Orgeron, however, still wasn't certain he should head back to the all-consuming college game. For the first time in his life he had extra time to spend with his family in his native Louisiana.
"They wanted me to come back (to college football)," Orgeron said. "I wanted to stay with the Saints. We all voted. I voted to stay in the pros. They're the ones that convinced me to come back to college."
And now Orgeron's influence on UT's program has been widespread.
He handles planning, organization and daily meetings. He's one of the coaches most responsible for making sure players are faring well in class and staying out of trouble.
When Lane Kiffin needs a coach to step in, Orgeron is there.
"I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like without him and how much further behind we'd be right now than where we are today if he wasn't here," Kiffin said. "With all the different things that come with the head coaching job here and all the different directions that you're pulled, it's so valuable to have him - more than anyone else."
Kiffin isn't the only one who's happy with Orgeron's designation as second-in-command.
"(Lane) has treated me like that. Monte has treated me like that," Orgeron said. "The whole staff has."
Monte, my mentor
Orgeron didn't just come to UT to be a coach. He came to be a student.
Orgeron refers to coaching under Monte Kiffin as earning a "football doctorate".
Monte Kiffin's resume frequently garners that sort of awe from the coaching world and certainly from Orgeron, who through his association with Lane Kiffin was familiar with his father.
"I have total respect for him," Orgeron said of Monte. "I didn't come in here as 'Hey man I know it all.' I came here very humble and said 'Here's the greatest defensive mind in college football, in NFL football.'
"I've got to prove myself to this guy. I'm going to come in and keep my mouth shut and I'm going to start from square one with him."
The two seem a great fit on the practice field. Monte Kiffin is the mostly quiet one who occasionally bellows. Orgeron is the fiery one who rarely lowers his tone.
The two have also meshed schemes well - as evident by UT's nearly unstoppable defensive front in spring practice.
"There are some times in our defense where we are containing," Orgeron said. "But there are times in our defense where we cut guys loose. The biggest thing about Monte is he makes things simple for our guys. If this guy does this, you do that and that's it."
The next step, again
Learning from Monte Kiffin has Orgeron thinking about his future and that desire to be a head coach again.
“I want it to be right,” Orgeron said of his next opportunity. “I really enjoy what I’m doing right here.
“One of the reasons I came here was to work with Monte. There were some things that I thought I needed to learn just a little bit more. I’m getting that from Monte right now. My next step, I think that I’ll be better prepared for all of the things that I need to do.”
Orgeron's next shot might not be that far away. Ole Miss finished 9-4 last season with Orgeron's former recruits leading the way. Two former Rebels were selected in the first round of the NFL draft on Saturday: offensive tackle Michael Oher (23rd pick by the Baltimore Ravens) and defensive tackle Peria Jerry (24th pick by the Atlanta Falcons).
"I had a vision and a picture," Orgeron said. "That picture came through last year with the recruits that I had.
"Obviously, we didn't get it done but that's not going to be my only shot. I'll be better prepared this time. I'll be better prepared hiring my staff.
"But I really think that when the opportunity comes this time, I'll do my research a little bit better on what I'm going into and where I'm going."
Orgeron, however, doesn't seem in a hurry to go anywhere as long as Monte Kiffin is wearing orange.
"Everyday when I come to work, I get to say 'I get to work with Monte Kiffin,' " Orgeron said. "It's been great."
I can coach, too
Way before Orgeron was a recruiting coordinator, he was thought of as a premier defensive line coach.
"It's kind of funny," Orgeron said. "That (recruiting reputation) came later. I really learned how to be a defensive line coach with Jimmie Johnson. I was considered a good line coach at Miami.
"I went to Syracuse. I had success there and really became known as one of the better defensive line coaches in the country."
Orgeron has coached countless defensive linemen who went onto the NFL, such as Cortez Kennedy, Warren Sapp and Russell Maryland.
Yet a couple of reformation projects come to mind.
At USC, Carroll once ripped Orgeron after offering Mike Patterson a scholarship and seeing the plump defensive tackle play poorly in an all-star game shortly thereafter.
Under Orgeron, Patterson went from 324 pounds to 285, became an All-American and was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the 2005 NFL draft.
Defensive tackle Kenechi Udeze followed a similar path. He was 350 pounds before dropping to 285 and turning himself into a first-round pick in 2004 thanks to Orgeron's tutelage.
Orgeron said that his history with defensive linemen helps him get players' attention. It seems to be working at UT.
Senior defensive tackle Dan Williams dropped 25 pounds during spring practice at Orgeron's behest.
Defensive end Chris Walker was named the most improved defender of spring practice and credited Orgeron with the improvement.
"I love coach O's energy, just being around him," the junior said. "All the people that he has coached and all the things that he has done for other people. It's just a big honor for us to be coached by him.
"They talk about how great a recruiter he is but they don't know how great a coach he is. Our defensive line has gotten ten notches better since he's been here."