Which candidate is best suited for the USC job
This is the broad-ranging question that Clay Helton asked after he was fired Monday. Helton, who replaced Steve Sarkisian as the Pac-12 champion in 2017, compiled a record of 46-24. Helton could not overcome the pressure that he had been following for several seasons.
The end of a turbulent tenure was sealed with Saturday’s loss at Stanford, 42-28. USC now has Donte Williams as interim coach. The search for the next coach will attract many big-name names to one of the most prominent brands in college football.
Sporting News takes a closer look at these candidates
Urban Meyer, Jacksonville Jaguars coach
Meyer is currently in his first year as an NFL Coach. Meyer, who is in his first season as an NFL coach, will likely be the focus of USC speculation throughout the season. This could make it difficult for him to transition into the NFL. Meyer is one of the most successful recruiters in history, with a record of 187-32 and three FBS national championships. Meyer’s unceremonious exits from Florida State and Ohio State are well documented. Meyer would not have been able to get the USC job had he made the leap from FOX Studio to the NFL ranks if Meyer wanted it. Meyer (57) would make a great name, and one comparable to Pete Carroll. Keep in mind that Carroll was only 50 when he assumed the USC presidency.
Bob Stoops is a FOX college football analyst
After a six year absence, could Stoops return to college football in a Mack Brown-like fashion? Stoops (61), was briefly a coach in the now-defunct XFL. So the itch might still be there. Stoops, another highly successful college coach with a record of 190-48 at Oklahoma was also a success. Stoops won 10 conference titles and a national championship. He could be bringing that same no-nonsense approach to Los Angeles. This move is not to be missed.
It’s worth paying attention to Power Five coaches
James Franklin, Penn State
Penn State has Franklin’s $4 million buyout, which would be easy to manage. Franklin has been a successful coach with the Nittany Lions, and his rah-rah style helped the school win its last Big Ten title in 2016. Franklin wouldn’t have to deal directly with Ohio State during conference play and is a skilled recruiter, who could generate the needed enthusiasm for a program that has been stagnant. Franklin is from Pennsylvania and has stated that Penn State is his dream job.
P.J. Fleck, Minnesota
Fleck is also a charismatic person who can inject energy and enthusiasm into programs that are in dire need. He was 57-42 in Western Michigan and Minnesota. However, those were intense rebuilds that had big-picture limits. Fleck led the Broncos in a New Year’s Day Six Bowl and almost put the Gophers into the Big Ten Championship game in 2019. Fleck has a great offensive mind. The Broncos have had solid players at the NFL’s position positions in recent years. In the last five seasons, USC had one running back draft.
Matt Campbell, Iowa State
Campbell is a program builder with incredible skills. However, he may have reached his maximum at Iowa State this year due to the Top 10 ranking. Campbell was a part of a Division III Mount Union winning culture and has worked his way up through college with a style similar to Carroll’s. Campbell would be capable of taking that program to the bright-lights. This is a question that we have been asking since the beginning of this year. Campbell (41 years old) might find it difficult to turn down the job, if given.
Mario Cristobal, Oregon
Did you remember when USC removed Sarkisian from Washington. It would have been a great move. However, it might prove difficult for Cristobal to leave Oregon as the Ducks are currently the Pac-12 champions. Cristobal has taken the recruiting lessons from Nick Saban, his assistant coach. Cristobal is well-positioned to help Oregon achieve success. It would be an unexpected lateral move especially if Oregon remains in the CFP hunt.
Luke Fickell (Cincinnati)
Fickell was a Cincinnati athletic director for USC, Mike Bohn. However, that relationship doesn’t always work out. Fickell built the Bearcats to a serious contender in College Football Playoffs. He might consider staying with the team, given his Ohio connections and the new-found light from the Big 12 conference. Fickell still seems to be moving to the Midwest for his next move, though if Fickell wants to improve, it would not be difficult to accept the USC job.
Joe Moorhead is the Oregon offensive coordinator
Moorhead did a great job interview in Saturday’s upset against No. 3 Ohio State. His play-calling skills are sophisticated and he would make a great fit for the West Coast. He was a Mississippi State graduate who had a 2 year stint that saw him produce a 6-12 record. Moorhead (47), could make a better coach than he was at Mississippi State. The Pac-12 is known for poaching from one another.
Chris Petersen is a former Washington coach
Petersen was the Pac-12’s last coach to reach the College Football Playoff. His record was 147 to 38 between Washington and Boise State, and he also won two Pac-12 championships as a coach with the Huskies. Petersen was always a coach who achieved more from less. It would be fascinating to learn what he did after he retired in 2019. Although this is not an off-the-wall hire, Petersen said that he was willing to leave the sport after he had left UW.
Eric Bieniemy is the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator
It is unlikely that anyone in the NFL would do it. So why not the college programs that flourishes with that NFL feeling? Bieniemy was an assistant at UCLA from 2003 to 2005, and played high school basketball in California. With Andy Reid, in Kansas City the mesh between college and NFL has been a learning experience for Bieniemy. This “worked well with Patrick Mahomes II card” could be useful to high school quarterbacks from California. Alabama, Georgia, Clemson, Clemson, and Clemson all boast QBs who hail from California. Can Bieniemy change this?
Publiated at Tue 14 Sep 2021, 02:38.47 (+0000).