USC Football: Who should be hired as head coach of the Trojans?

Sep 21, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lane Kiffin (right) and athletic director Pat Haden before the game against the Utah State Aggies at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Lane Kiffin is out as head coach at USC and the pressure to replicate the success experienced under Pete Carroll continues to mount.

You’ve seen the odds on who Pat Haden is likely to select as the next man to lead the Men of Troy, but who is the best option for the Trojans?

While it’s conceivable interim head coach Ed Orgeron could earn himself serious consideration for the permanent position if he’s able to successfully lead the Trojans in their remaining eight games, he isn’t the candidate best suited for the job.

As was the case in 2010 when Carroll flew north for the NFL, many names are being discussed by fans and media alike, but that’s not to say all should be considered.

The man for job is Chris Petersen.

Despite what perception may be, USC is still a prominent football program with future success to be had.

Petersen will have the ability to sign a 2014 recruiting class of 20, up from the 15-a-year Kiffin had been limited to.

Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

In his eighth season as head coach of the Boise State Broncos, Petersen has yet to be lured out of Boise.

However, if reports are accurate, he may finally be ready to leave for bigger pastures if the Trojans come calling.

Petersen has led the Boise State program to levels of success they had not experienced prior to his arrival on the blue turf.

Petersen currently owns a career record of 87-10 including two Fiesta Bowl wins, with one of the victories coming in memorable fashion over Oklahoma in 2006.

Hiring Petersen would mean a change in offensive philosophy, which USC has generally resisted.

It’s a change that USC should no longer shy away from and embrace.  For many reasons, the current offensive scheme in place hasn’t yielded consistent results.

With the skill players USC has on their roster, Petersen’s biggest challenge would be deciding who to get the ball to.  Not struggling to get the ball to a player in space.

After spending eight seasons with Boise State up to this point, Petersen may also be a safe hire for USC.

He doesn’t appear to be someone who is interested in enjoying one or two seasons of success in order to parlay it into another job.

Pairing Petersen and his offensive prowess with the defensive minds of Orgeron and Clancy Pendergast would give the Trojans an excellent core of coaches on both sides of the ball.

Who should USC hire as the head coach?

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Topics: Chris Petersen, Football, USC Trojans

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  • steveg

    Sarkisian? Get real. Peterson would be good at USC no doubt, but my feeling is Franklin would be phenomenal. As a coach, recruiter, and public relations. I would be nice to have a coach people love instead of love to hate.

    • Matthew Moreno

      Is the Sarkisian remark because you doubt he would be hired, or you aren’t high on him as a candidate?

      Franklin may be best in the PR department, but pretty much any of the candidates would be an improvement over Kiffin.

      I do believe being “loved” can/would come with winning and I think Petersen gives USC the best shot at that.

      • keith humes

        I think bobby petrino would be a great hire

        • Matthew Moreno

          There’s a name that I haven’t really heard as a candidate.

  • mikal

    Peterson by a landslide. What he could do with 4-5 star players…win consistently!

    • Matthew Moreno

      I agree with this sentiment

  • Jeff Clark

    Why not Gruden? I think he’d be phenomenal, but I can’t find anything online suggesting he’s even been asked by reporters about the job. Is he not on the list because he’s not a solid candidate or because the odds of getting him are so low?

    • Matthew Moreno

      I think there are candidates who are considered a long shot, and then there’s Gruden

      • Jeff Clark

        Based on what? Petersen, Sarkisian, and Sumlin aren’t any more realistic. You may not remember this, but Petersen was contacted in 2010 and turned SC down. He’s turned down numerous other opportunities. Franklin and Del Rio are the only realistic guys on your list.
        If anything, Gruden would have the easiest time leaving his current job and hitting the recruiting trail immediately. I also think SC and Haden will be willing to pay big bucks at this point for someone of his stature.

        • Matthew Moreno

          Well, Gruden hasn’t exactly been open to the thought of moving into the college ranks, has he?

          Petersen may not have been interested in 2010, but who was? Everyone, except Kiffin, feared what was coming from the NCAA.

          Assuming Gruden isn’t an option, you’ve thrown out Franklin and Del Rio, do you think either one of them would be a better choice than Petersen?

          So yes, Gruden is likely the easiest hire, but the easy choice isn’t always best.

          • Jeff Clark

            To your first question, I think Gruden would be incredible, but I honestly can’t find anything online to show he’s even been asked by a news outlet to comment. Not that you’d expect him to give a clear answer, but the only evidence I can find that he isn’t interested in going back to coaching college ball (he’s never been a college HC) is that he’s never gone back – not a statement from him.

            Your point is valid about 2010. Totally agree that it was not nearly as desirable a job as it is now. There’s a reason Lane was offered the job. But Petersen also turned down Stanford and UCLA in the past few years, and there were suggestions that a big part of that has to do with his son that has battled brain cancer. I just don’t see him leaving.

            As for Franklin and Del Rio, I don’t know as much about them but I’ve been trying to read up. I think Franklin would be awesome, especially as a recruiter and a motivator. Del Rio might be good too, but I don’t think he’d be in consideration if he wasn’t already a Trojan. He seems to be highly respected though, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt if he had to finish out the season coaching in the Super Bowl. But I also worry that he’s never coached in college, has never had to recruit, and might even be in line for HC positions in the NFL.

          • Matthew Moreno

            Maybe Petersen feels the timing to leave is finally right. Who knows, maybe it isn’t, and the rumor of his interest is exactly that.

            My concern with Gruden and Del Rio is they’ve had a taste of the NFL and I assume they would want to go back. How soon? Well that would have to be seen, but why take the chance that they possibly leave after one or two seasons?

            Obviously Petersen could also bolt for Sundays, but given his track record, he doesn’t appear to be someone who would be quick to leave.

  • ALVARO CARRILLO

    Petersen has had great teams at Boise, but what has he done
    lately? Boise should go undefeated every year with that soft schedule. Last
    year they lost 2 games and this year they have already lost 2 games.

    Also, he has turned down all recent coaching opportunities
    and that is a huge red flag. If you consider yourself a successful coach why
    not try to prove yourself at Washington State, Cal, Arizona, or Colorado? If
    you look at most successful head coaches, they have started at smaller schools
    and worked their way up to bigger schools. He has no ambition and wants to stay
    at Boise and have a job for life. Or maybe he doesn’t want to take a chance and
    strike out like his predecessor Dan Hawkins.

    I want a coach who is a proven recruiter not an NFL guy. My
    list:

    #1 Kevin Sumlin
    #2 Al Golden
    #3 Steve Sarkisian

    • Matthew Moreno

      Perhaps Petersen hasn’t viewed a job opportunity as enticing enough to leave Boise.

      I assume it got to the point where he had a better opportunity to keep rolling with what he had in Boise than move onto the likes of Cal, Washington State, etc.

      On the flip side, the argument could be made that those universities have/had a bit more to offer.

      Maybe he’s always had a desire to coach at USC? Who knows…

      I wouldn’t place too much of an emphasis on Petersen’s underwhelming losses. Pete Carroll experienced those, too.

      I suppose I would be ok with Sumlin, BUT only if Pendergast and Orgeron are retained (assuming the defense gets back on track) or he agrees to hire a top-flight defensive coordinator.

  • Not So Fast My Friend

    I’m late to this posting and I’m sure you don’t need, much less want any “Ducks” suggestion (much less me sharing some thoughts). First, let me say this, the Pac 12 needs USC to be successful. Period. I know for balance, we shouldn’t say that, but it’s true. I understand that simple fact others may not care to admit. Although we are certainly riding our moment in the sun quite well, the conference’s best marketing partner is USC. They have the tradition, they have the international brand awareness and most of all they are in the second largest media market in the country.

    Having said that, I don’t think USC needs to grab “an NFL guy.” What USC needs is a head coach who’s going to be committed to the program, have great interpersonal skills, and be a solid recruiter. If anyone thinks Jim Mora is going to be at UCLA for a long time, they are as foolish as those awful alternate uniforms they’ve come up with. Mora is waiting for his next crack at the NFL. He does good at UCLA, the NFL will come calling. He doesn’t, they won’t. I’m guessing he’s got another year or two at the most.

    I know USC’s tradition is the pro style offense, and I’m certainly not advocating you change it. But certainly be flexible to coaches whose expertise isn’t that offensive ideology. My coaching suggestions are not in any particular order and I’ll toss in one NFL guy who might be a good option to consider.

    1. Jack Del Rio – Poor fit. Ties to the university are one thing, but pivoting to coaching college is another. He’d have to find and hire a great staff to augment his weaknesses. College football landscape learning curve isn’t easy.

    2. Kevin Sumlin – Good choice. Has the college coaching chops to come in and be a hit recruiting. Just finished building a house in Texas and I can’t imagine he’d be willing to leave that so quickly. Then again, USC can pay more than TAMU. Hmmmm.

    3. Chris Peterson – Nice thought, but he’s turned down jobs before. People in Boise treat him like a God. I don’t see him jumping ship to USC, but the lure of hunting big game might be too much to pass up.

    4. Coach Sark – Yes, please take him!!! Considering Washington is our rival, of course I’d want him gone. But that fact remains, he’s made the Huskies competitive again. Hard to leave what you worked so hard to build but the inherent negatives/limits to recruiting for Washington don’t exist at USC.

    5. Pat Fitzgerald – Yeah, it’s NW, but he’s given that program a spine. He’s said he’s not interested in leaving Chicago, but really? You’re going to take subzero winters for almost 80 degree year round weather? That should be a no brainer to go.

    6. Nick Saban – No. Not because I don’t want him in the Pac 12, but because his dry as toast personality wouldn’t sell in LA. The head coach of USC has to be a dynamic personality, Saban isn’t.

    7. Art Briles – Texas still commands the lion’s share of the recruiting in that state. The fact that Briles is able to identify overlooked talent and/or coach up average talent is a big plus for him to do the same with “ready-to-go” talent rich LA.

    8. Al Golden – Al is fiery and if Miami gets hit and hit hard with NCAA sanctions, then he’ll certainly leave. He might leave just because! But he has the same problem Sark has. He’s put a lot of effort into turning them around. Job isn’t done yet and leaving would be hard. He’s doubtful.

    9. John Gruden – Nice but no cigar. Chucky isn’t leaving ESPN and ditching the freedom, his own show to coach college kids. Not even for USC. Stranger things have happened, so don’t sleep on this. (Same with Jeff Fisher. He just started working with the Rams, so he’s not leaving)

    10. Hue Jackson – Before you start your duck calls and grab your rifles, Hue has LA connections and street cred with players. He’s an excellent X’s and O’s guy who has ties to USC. You won’t have to worry about him “taking over the program” because that wouldn’t happen. He’d be able to assemble a great staff, still run variables of the pro-style offense you guys like and he has enough of a personality to be entertaining to local media. I know people may not like him because of his short stint with the Raiders. But if you research it, his Raider offense was very good that season. Their defense sucked.

    11. Coach O – Keep him. He’s loyal. He’s got good energy with players and fans and the players love him. He wins, he should be USC’s first choice. He doesn’t, then everyone else comes into play. But I would find a job for him at USC. That guy is a pure Trojan.

    Good luck. Can’t wait for you to get back on your feet. We’ll be waiting for you.