Who is the best candidate for the USC job?
That’s the high-profile question after Clay Helton’s sacking on Monday. Helton replaced Steve Sarkisian in 2015 and compiled a 46-24 record that included a Pac-12 championship in 2017. Helton, however, has been unable to shake the hot seat that has followed him in recent seasons.
A 42-28 loss to Stanford on Saturday was the final blow to a tumultuous tenure. Now USC will look to interim coach Donte Williams, and the search for the next coach promises to attract big names for one of college football’s biggest brands.
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Sporting News details the candidates:
Urban Meyer, Jacksonville Jaguars coach
We need to at least turn to Meyer, who is in his first season as an NFL coach. Meyer will be the subject of USC speculation throughout the season, especially if he struggles to transition to the NFL. Meyer has an 187-32 record and three national championships as an FBS coach, and he is one of the best recruiters of all time. That said, Meyer’s informal outings from Florida and Ohio State are well documented, and if he wanted the job at USC, he would have had it before moving from the FOX studio to the ranks of. the NFL. Meyer, 57, would be the biggest name possible, comparable to Pete Carroll. Remember, Carroll was 50 when he took office at USC.
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Bob Stoops, FOX College Football Analyst
Could Stoops make a Mack Brown-style comeback to college football after a six-year hiatus? Stoops, 61, briefly coached the now-defunct XFL, so the itch may still be there. Stoops is another high performing college coach who was 190-48 in Oklahoma. He’s won a national title, 10 conference championships, and could bring that no-frills style to Los Angeles. Don’t rule out this move.
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James Franklin, State of Pennsylvania
Franklin has a $ 4 million buyout from Penn State, but it wouldn’t be that hard to manage. It becomes a worthwhile decision for Franklin, who enjoyed success with the Nittany Lions with a rah-rah style that helped the school to its last Big Ten Championship in 2016. Franklin wouldn’t have to face the Ohio State in conference, and he’s a successful recruiter who would be able to generate the necessary enthusiasm around a stagnant program. Franklin, however, is a Pennsylvania native who has declared Penn State his “dream job.”
PJ Fleck, Minnesota
Fleck also has a character who would inject energy into a much-needed program. He’s 57-42 in western Michigan and Minnesota, but those were heavy rebuilds with overall limitations. Fleck led the Broncos to a New Years Six bowl and almost put the Gophers in the Big Ten championship game in 2019. Fleck is an offensive spirit, and the Broncos and Gophers have placed solid position players in the NFL. in recent seasons. USC has had a draft backer for the past five seasons.
Matt Campbell, State of Iowa
Campbell’s programming skills are enormous, but he may have peaked in Iowa State with this year’s Top 10 ranking. Campbell played in a winning culture at Division III Mount Union, and he rose through the college ranks with a player-focused style that resembles Carroll. Would Campbell be able to fit this show into a bright light program? This is a question we have been asking ourselves for two years. Campbell, 41, might have a hard time turning down the job if offered.
Mario Cristobal, Oregon
Remember when USC pulled Sarkisian out of Washington? It would be that kind of decision, but Cristobal might be hard to pull off from Oregon knowing the Ducks are two-time Pac-12 champions and currently better positioned as a program. Cristobal learned from Nick Saban during his stint as an assistant coach, and he took those recruiting lessons on the West Coast. Cristobal has Oregon well positioned to succeed. It would be a shocking sideways move, especially if Oregon stays in the PCP chase this season.
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Luke Fickell, Cincinnati
Fickell worked with USC athletic director Mike Bohn in Cincinnati, but that connection doesn’t always match. Fickell made the Bearcats a legitimate contender for the college football playoffs, and he might be willing to stick with the program given his ties to Ohio and the newly found light in the Big 12 conference. Fickell still feels like it will be in the Midwest, but if he wants to take it to the next level, the job at USC would be hard to pass up.
Joe Moorhead, Oregon Offensive Coordinator
Moorhead gave a nice job interview on Saturday in the upset against the No.3 Ohio State. He’s a sophisticated player who would fit better on the West Coast than he was during a two-year stint in Mississippi State which produced a 6-12 record. Moorhead, 47, could be a much better head coach the second time around, and the Pac-12 schools are notorious for poaching each other.
Chris Petersen, former Washington coach
Hey, Petersen is the last Pac-12 coach to make the college football playoffs. He was 147-38 between Boise State and Washington, and he won two Pac-12 championships with the Huskies. Petersen has always been a coach who has done more with less, and it would be interesting to see what he learned after retiring in 2019. This is by no means an extravagant hire, though when he does left UW he said he was ready. get away from the game.
Eric Bieniemy, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator
If no one in the NFL will, then why not the college program that thrives when it has that NFL feel? Bieniemy played his ball in high school in California and was an assistant at UCLA from 2003 to 2005. He learned college mesh and the NFL with Andy Reid in Kansas City, and this card “worked with Patrick Mahomes II “could play well with the high school quarterbacks in California. Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and Georgia all have California QBs. Could Bieniemy change that?