It is only mid-September, and one of the biggest jobs in college football has opened. USC fired Clay Helton after last weekend’s loss to Stanford, bringing on a wave of speculation about what the Trojans will do.
USC’s hiring patterns have been pretty consistent in the post-Pete Carroll era: the Trojans love to stay within the family. Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian were both former Carroll offensive coordinators, and Helton was the OC under those two coaches before having the interim tag removed after the departure of Sarkisian.
If they nail the hire, ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit believes USC can turn things around really quick. He thinks the next coach needs to bring back the “cool” factor to the Trojans program, one that was among the best in college football in the 2000s, and certainly represented Los Angeles well.
“Once they decide on who the head coach is, it could be an overnight (change), a different-maker who comes in and gets recruiting going right away,” he said on SportsCenter Saturday, per 247. “In L.A., you’ve got to become the cool team. When Pete Carroll had SC rolling, they were the cool brand. Kids growing up in that area wanted to be a part of that.”
L.A. is a city that embraces winners, especially when a team’s games seem like the cool place to be. When Carroll had them rolling, you’d see celebrities on the sideline regularly. Herbstreit says a good hire can bring back that atmosphere.
“Denzel Washington is chilling on the sideline with Snoop. They were up there with the Dodgers and the Lakers. They were the brand that was big in LA. People wanted to be around.
“I think because of that, it’s very different than Tallahassee, Austin or wherever you might be. Who they hire (needs to) get back to recruiting, get back to winning. But if you get the right guy, it could happen within a year or two to get that thing going. It’s a top 5 job In the country if you get the right guy.”
During today’s College GameDay, Herbstreit proposed an interesting potential hire: Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule. It may be a tough sell, but if he’s open to a return to college after just two pro seasons, he has a tremendous track record of turning things around.
Other common names tossed around include Penn State’s James Franklin, Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell, former Washington coach Chris Petersen, and of course, Urban Meyer.