The Search for a New Coach

I will remind folks who follow the search for a new coach at USC in the months to come of an unimprovable mantra that you will be wise to commit to memory: “Those who know, don’t tell; those who tell, don’t know”. The amount of idiotic rumors and “insider claims” we will be subjected to for the next 60 days is going to be stunning. Be forewarned.

The other thing I will say before I start my article: Those who were the loudest in their hatred of CLK are going to bash the hire NO MATTER WHO HE IS. That is because haters are haters, and they lack the courage to go on a limb and believe someone will make it (at fear of their credibility being shot if someone doesn’t work out). The people bragging that they “knew” CLK would not work out were amusingly NOT so loud in 2011. Make no mistake about it, CLK did not work out (though people worthy of the word ‘Trojan’ were HOPING he would). But the new hire is going to be loved by some and hated by others. Do not be discouraged by the entitled, spoiled, ignorant class of folks who will express dismay at any hire. It is nearly a genetic issue for them.

Final pre-article comment: OF COURSE it behooves certain coaches to get their name in the conversation via their handlers, agents, etc. There is no better negotiating ploy on the planet than creating chatter that you are in demand elsewhere and “having conversations”. Pete did this masterfully for years before he actually left. Charlie Weis was a BAD coach who did it and suckered the geniuses at Notre Dame into paying him $28 million based on moronic innuendo. There will be noise to filter through, and most rumors will prove unfounded, even if they were deliberately planted.

So who will the new hire be? Who should it be? The blogs, twittersphere, and chat boards are all full of the same names. Let me walk through as many as I can and offer my own commentary, for whatever it is worth.

(1) Jack Del Rio – at age 50 he is not older than I want to see, but he does lack a connection to the college game and the recruiting trail I would prefer to see. He did well at Jacksonville until he didn’t any more, and his defense in Denver appears to be doing well. But being a coordinator in the NFL when you have really good players is just very different. I like Jack, and I am sure his connection to the university is a plus, but I wouldn’t see this as a coup if we were to hire him. I could live with it, though. As a manner of predicting what will happen, I am too contrarian to think the hire most seem to be talking about will actually happen

(2) Mike Riley – no one is really discussing him, which is interesting because I am 100% positive he was Mike Garrett’s NUMBER ONE choice four years ago when Pete left for the NFL. I think most people know he is happy in the low pressure job of Oregon State, and his family seems to have taken a liking to Corvalis. He is not a serious candidate, and at age 60, I would pass on him now (but not four years ago)

(3) Mike Belotti – this is a joke of a mention, and I can’t believe anyone is being serious here. Pete Carroll has not given this clown his self-respect back yet. No, it will not happen

(4) Steve Sarkisian – I doubt there is another hire who I think is as bad of an idea as Sark but for such different reasons than the ones other anti-Sark guys are suggesting. I don’t oppose Sark coming because I want to cut the cord from Pete; I’d like to repeat basically every single thing Pete ever did here. But it is ironic to hear those lambasting Kiffin (for good reason) suggesting Sark, who has a worse college record than Kiff the last four years (and was not on probation/sanctions). Sark has found his niche in Washington and done fine up there (besides that embarrassing loss to WSU last year), but we can do better

(5) James Franklin – he would be among my top picks if we could get him. He has done a phenomenal job at Vanderbilt, and is 42 years old. What I don’t know enough about is the sexual assault trial a few players are presently in the midst of, and whether or not the coach has a reputation for being soft on dirtbag players. We don’t need an Urban Meyer kind of morality problem. I have not heard that JF is in that world but that is the only drawback I can think of

(6) Jon Gruden – it will never happen. Next. He may leave MNF for a NFL head coaching job one day (I doubt it), but not to pound the pavement in living rooms on the recruiting trail

(7) Chris Petersen – I am in the minority here in not being convinced this makes a lot of sense. The Hawkins experience just scares me in terms of Boise coaches leaving Boise. I think the job of coaching players at Boise State is fundamentally different, and I fear for what could happen with a hire like this. I could be really wrong here, but it seems fraught with risk to me

(8) Pat Fitzgerald – The 38-year old Northwestern coach is a few months older than Lane Kiffin, and has done a remarkable job. The youth concerns me, but excites me, and I think this could be a really gutsy hire for us.

(9) Kevin Sumlin – The 50-year old coach at Texas A&M is enjoying the rare and miraculous experience of having a once-in-a-liftime player on his team in the Heisman-winning Manziel. He will probably interview, and he will probably shake an additional 750k/year out of Texas A&M for his troubles. But I question the likelihood of this happening, and Manziel would not be coming with him

(10) Gary Patterson – He is 53, and done incredible things at TCU. I like this hire, and think he could be a real dark-horse for the position.

(11) Ed Orgeron – if he runs the table in the next 8 games, yes he should be considered. But of course that will not happen, and Ed will not be our head coach next year. He will, though, be on the coaching staff. I love the guy. Love him.

(12) Jeff Fisher – first of all, my understanding is that this guy sued USC for hiring his running backs coach two years ago (Kennedy Pola). Second of all, he has not been successful since the 1990’s in coaching, and has no college experience at all. I do not want this hire to happen.

(13) Bobby Petrino – unlike some candidates, the issue here is not whether or not he would take it. Believe me, he would take it. But it is a non-starter, as we are not going to hire a dirtbag

(14) Charlie Strong – at 53 and very popular in Louisville, he is an emotional and defensive-minded coach who should have been named the Florida Gators head coach when Urban Meyer ran away from Nick Saban. I think he is staying put, but I’d like this hire.

(15) Last but not least, Pete Carroll … Now is he even a remote possibility? Of course not. But if I could have ANY COACH in the world – ANYONE I wanted – would it be the greatest college football coach of the modern era, who over saw the greatest dynasty in the history of the sport Yes, it would. Would I take Pete over Nick Saban, Bill Belichek, Jim Harbaugh, and Les Miles? Without a doubt. Do I believe the coach we hire could ever replicate what Pete did at USC? No, I do not. But all we can ask for is the hope that springs eternal in knowing that a new coach is coming, and maybe, just maybe, SOME piece of what Pete did in bringing USC to the promised land can happen again. Just a piece …