With much-maligned head coach Lane Kiffin now gone, and Ed Orgeron filling in, here are four potential head coaching candidates for USC’s long-term future. But “Four For” refuses to simply list four big names (“Chris Petersen! Kevin Sumlin!”). And, your author believes unlike some schools who think that they are the center of the college football universe and tend to go after the highest profile coaches available, USC can/should search for a guy who is simply the best candidate or the best fit. So here are some names that the average fan may not have considered:
- 1) First, there’s Chad Morris of Clemson, who is the Tigers’ offensive coordinator. While never a head coach at the college level, Morris was a longtime Texas high school head coach, with multiple state championships under his belt. Currently he has Clemson’s offense humming, and there’s a good chance he will probably get hired away by someone soon. He’d be a well-received hire, especially if USC wants to go for the flashy offensive guy, as has been the trend in recent coaching hires for the PAC-12. However, based on that thought line, they could also go with…
- 2) Tom Herman, who directs Ohio State’s offense. While Herman lacks the head coaching experience of Morris, they both have 0 games as a college head coach, so that might be overlooked. Ohio State’s surge, which will (and should) be mostly attributed to Urban Meyer, is also partly because of Herman, who has directed improved and balanced offenses at all his past college stops .
- 3) Now, let’s open up the possibility that USC doesn’t just go with an offensive-fireworks-points-explosion type hire and goes a different route, such as the animated and likeable Ken Niumatalolo. Coach Ken is a well-respected man that has turned the Naval Academy into a consistent winner, and getting Navy to multiple bowls is no small achievement. While Niumatalolo’s coaching record at Navy is good, he ability to recruit is unknown (seeing as he is at a service academy), but he might be an asset to Southern Cal since USC has a history of recruiting players of Samoan decent (as do many of the West Coast’s big programs). As far as the topic of offensive firepower goes, he could always hire one of the aforementioned OC’s to run the offensive instead of sticking to his option run attack…although that would be fun to see.
- 4) Going further with the “alternate route” theory, there are a few great college defensive coordinators who are hot head coaching candidates. While the two most prominent are Michigan State’s Pat Narduzzi and Alabama’s Kirby Smart, they are hard-wired to their region (the Midwest and South, respectively) and may not want to go to LA … but Brian Stewart might. As Maryland’s defensive coordinator, Stewart has immediately improved the Terrapin’s D to what might be the ACC’s best defensive unit, and had previously directed vastly improved defenses with the University of Houston and the Dallas Cowboys, amongst others. While he lacks head coaching experience, he’s had success in the NFL and college, and he is from San Diego. Must like Niumatalolo, Stewart might be the likeable hire to follow up Kiffin and give USC an under-the-radar gem at head coach.
Stay tuned for the upcoming “Four for” series… how to save the American Athletic Conference.
(All sources linked in the article; picture courtesy of mapletsui from Flickr/Yahoo library)