Now that National Signing Day is over, we can officially begin the countdown to college football spring practice. The offseason is moving swiftly.
Additionally, with 2019 recruiting mostly in the bag–transfers still need to be sorted out of course–we can start looking at the 2019 season and assessing which teams and coaches have the pressure on them. There are several head coaches on the hot seat.
CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli ranked the five coaches with the hottest seats in the country in his “Friday Five” column the other day. He put USC’s Clay Helton at No. 1.
Helton is coming off a 5-7 season in LA, and many expected he wouldn’t be retained. However, USC AD Lynn Swann is giving him another chance.
Fornelli doesn’t think the future bodes well for the fifth-year head coach.
Helton’s time at USC reminds me a lot of the Jim McElwain Era at Florida. The Gators won 19 games in Mac’s first two seasons, as well as two division titles, but they never looked like a team that was the same level as the elite programs of the country, which is where Florida wants to be. Plus, recruiting was dropping off. That’s mostly how I feel about USC right now. The Trojans won the Pac-12 in 2017, but got pantsed in losses to Notre Dame and Ohio State that season as well. Also, USC’s 2019 recruiting class is currently ranked No. 20 nationally by 247Sports’ composite rankings, but only third in the Pac-12.
There is no excuse for USC to have only the third-best class in the Pac-12 ever. It’s just not supposed to happen, yet, it has this year. And if Helton doesn’t show significant improvement in 2019, I don’t think he’s around to see the 2020 class. And when you look at USC’s 2019 schedule, it’s not going to be easy to survive.
You can read Fornelli’s full column here.
As for USC’s schedule, Fornelli has a point. The Trojans will face always-strong Stanford in Week 2 before a road trip to BYU. They also have to travel to Arizona State and Washington in conference play and face Notre Dame in an independent game in South Bend.
Utah and Oregon have to come to Los Angeles at least, but there isn’t much margin for error.