Firing Steve Sarkisian is the first step for USC in getting back to the elite of college football. But who is the man to take them there?
Obviously, it’s more than just the head coach that changes the program. If Pat Haden is as bad as some of the former players and boosters thinks he is as an athletic director, he’ll probably screw up this hiring as well, and once you pick two bad coaches for the face of the university in sports, it’s not going to be easy keeping your job, even if Haden is considered to be very good in terms of bringing in money.
The concept of trying to keep things the “Carroll” way, which means sticking to guys who worked under Pete Carroll as he helped bring the university back to the forefront of college football, including national championships, Rose Bowls and of course, violations and sanctions, justified or not, is over. Lane Kiffin and Sarkisian worked under him. Ed Orgeron was also part of the staff, although he actually did pretty well as he took over for Kiffin, but resigned once he didn’t get the job permanently.
One rumor that’s been hovering is that USC are going after Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M and Chip Kelly, of the Philadelphia Eagles. If Kelly doesn’t succeed at the end of this season in keeping his job in Philadelphia, maybe it’ll be true. Sumlin is also in a big year for him, but no one is going to fire him from A&M, so it remains quite interesting to see if USC is such a big draw for someone in the SEC, working in a big school.
There’s also talk of Jimbo Fisher at Florida State. One has to wonder if USC is actually a bigger job than the Seminoles right now. Recruiting in Florida vs California? USC probably have a bigger edge in their home state, but Fisher has been doing an amazing job for Florida State, not to mention the BCS title won less than two years ago and making the college football playoff in its inaugural year. He’s not getting fired, and it’s hard to see why it would be a good idea for him to leave right now.
USC might not pick their successor right now. An interim coach till the end of this season and then work out who is the one to turn things around. In any case, it’s not like a big enough or suitable name is available at the moment. But this can’t get dragged on forever. There’s recruiting to think about, and current players transferring if the future doesn’t look bright is also something to worry about. Five years after Carroll has left, USC hasn’t been able to get back to the course of Pac-12 dominance and success. The next hiring is one they can’t afford to miss, unless they’re planning on another long period of being way behind the rest.