Clay Helton’s first hire as the permanent head coach of USC was to promote Tee Martin to offensive coordinator. Does his hiring pass muster?
Now that USC’s 2016 coaching staff is nearing completion, it’s time to evaluate each hire from the quality of the coach to the context of the appointment.
This is the first in a series diving deeper into the decision-making behind and the consequences of each hire.
Here’s a look at how Martin’s hiring grades out:
Tee Martin | Offensive Coordinator
Replacing: Clay HeltonPros: High upside; in-house; strong recruiterCons: No previous OC experience; stronger candidates available
Martin continued his rise in the college ranks when Helton named him offensive coordinator after three years as USC’s wide receivers coach.
There are several layers to evaluating Martin’s appointment. First and foremost, limited experience makes him quite the risky prospect as an offensive coordinator. The last time he held that title he was coaching at North Atlanta High School in 2008.
In fact, his experience as a college coach full-stop only goes back seven years when he left to become New Mexico’s quarterbacks coach in 2009. From there he joined Kentucky as a receivers coach before being brought on at USC by Lane Kiffin in 2012.
However, since joining the Trojans it is hard to argue with his results. USC has had a receiver win or be in the running for the Biletnikoff Award in each of his four years in Los Angeles. Marqise Lee became USC’s first ever winner while Nelson Agholor and JuJu Smith-Schuster were both semi-finalists for the award. All three earned All-American status under Martin’s tutelage.
Nov 13, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans receivers coach Tee Martin (left) and receiver Nelson Agholor (15) against the California Golden Bears at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
In recruiting, Martin’s resume is even more impressive. He was named Rivals’ Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year for 2015 and is widely recognized as one of the nation’s most valuable recruiting forces.
That’s something that must be taken into account when judging the hire. When it comes down to it either USC was going to give Martin a promotion or someone else was.
Does that justify the Trojans handing the keys to a Ferrari of offensive talent over to a first time driver? That’s a matter of perspective. If retaining a rising star in the coaching profession was USC’s main concern, then they made the right choice. If putting the Trojan offense in the absolute best position to succeed was the driving force, then they could have done a lot better.
That’s not to say that Martin could not thrive as an offensive coordinator and play caller. Rather, USC’s brand and resources should have been able to draw in a more established and experienced OC.
Martin could turn out to be an excellent OC, but the Trojans are also accepting the reality that he’ll be learning on the job.
Grade: C. Martin is a wildcard with enough potential to earn a passing grade, but too little experience to be a sure-thing.
- Neil Callaway, Offensive Line
- Tyson Helton, Quarterbacks
- Tommie Robinson, Running Backs
- John Baxter, Special Teams Coordinator
- Clancy Pendergast, Defensive Coordinator
- Ronnie Bradford, Defensive Backs
What say you Trojan fans? How do you grade USC’s hiring of Tee Martin as offensive coordinator? Vote in the poll and sound off in the comments below.
How would you grade the Tee Martin hire?