Pete Carroll brought in Jeremy Bates to replace Steve Sarkisian for the 2009 season, after Bates was the quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos. He was the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach under Pete Carroll in 2009, and was subsequently the first coach to get his hands on Matt Barkley at USC. Today it’s been reported that Bates has taken the quarterbacks coach job with the Chicago Bears, reuniting himself with Jay Cutler. Of course, this gives us a reason to look back at Bates’s short stint with the Trojans.
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Bates headed to Los Angeles as part of a regime change in Denver, with Josh McDaniels being appointed the head coach of the Broncos after the departure of Mike Shanahan. He came to SC at an interesting time, having just missed Mark Sanchez, and with one of the most highly touted Southern California recruits of all time, Matt Barkley, coming in as an early enrollee. Plus, Bates had incredibly large shoes to fill, as Steve Sarkisians’ departure to Washington created the vacancy for which Bates was hired for.
In 2009, Barkley struggled as freshmen do, but it was after leading the Trojans to a huge win on the road at Ohio State, which promptly put the Trojans at the forefront of the National Title race, although it was a brief stint. Bates’s playcalling from the sidelines in tandem with the work of offensive coordinator Johnny Morton, really lacked for the Trojans, often putting Barkley in tough spots. Also, in games like the blowout loss to Stanford, and the loss to Oregon, Barkley was forced to throw more than he was ready for, often putting too much pressure upon him, by means of Bates and Morton, not to mention a poor SC defense that struggled to make things easy.
Yet, despite Matt Barkley’s play as freshman serving as the most clear cut analysis of Bates’s tenure, the loss to Washington following the win over Ohio State was probably the single, most significant failure of the brief Bates era. With Barkley injured and Aaron Corp taking the reins, the Trojans pounded the ball on the ground during the first two drives on the feet of Stafon Johnson, Joe McKnight and C.J. Gable, shredding the Huskies’ defensive line. Yet, after those two drives, the playcalling changed and Aaron Corp was put into throwing downs he wasn’t ready for as a first time starter in a hostile enviorment. Steve Sarkisian and Washington beat the Trojans, and the rest of the season was rocky.
After the 2009 season, Carroll left for Seattle, taking Bates with him as the Seahawks offensive coordinator, which paved the way for Lane Kiffin to make his mark on Matt Barkley. Bates and the Seahawks made the playoffs in 2010, but with one of the NFL’s worst offensive attacks, which proved to be enough for Carroll to fire him after one season in Seattle.