After an abysmal start to the season, USC decided to fire Clay Helton this afternoon. Helton has led the Trojans since 2015 to an overall 46-24 record. They last won a bowl game following the 2016 season and haven’t won the PAC-12 since 2017.
The school announced that they are looking for a change in leadership, and here are a few names that could end up leading USC following the 2021 season.
Top Five USC Coaching Candidates
Donte Williams is the current interim head coach at USC. He has spent most of his coaching career focusing on defense, particularly the secondary. He was named the interim head coach on top of his duties as cornerbacks coach following USC’s firing of Helton.
Two main points of emphasis stick out about Williams. Firstly, he is highly regarded as a recruiter. Just this past season, Williams was named the country’s third-best recruiter by 247Sports. By virtue of his recruiting prowess, the talent he has been able to bring into the Trojan’s defense has shown.
The other main point is that Williams has shown that he can be an effective position group coach. His secondaries have consistently churned out accolades and awards. All in all, if Williams can be a force in changing USC’s culture to one focused on winning, he should be a front-runner for the gig going forward.
Bill Clark/Billy Napier
I’m putting these two young head coaches into the same section because their resumes are similar in what they have been able to do at smaller schools. They are both incredibly intelligent coaches that have been leading schools to unprecedented levels of recent success.
Bill Clark is the current head coach at UAB, a team that wasn’t a team at all in the mid-2010s. Clark took over when the program restarted and hasn’t looked back. The Blazers have won three straight conference titles and four consecutive bowl game appearances.
Billy Napier took over the head coaching job at Louisiana in 2018, and they have been a SunBelt powerhouse ever since. Napier has led the Ragin’ Cajuns to three straight division titles and bowl game appearances. Last season, the Cajuns finished the year ranked 15 in the AP Poll. Both of these coaches have turned smaller programs into perennial contenders in their respective conferences; that type of mentality could help a struggling program like USC.
This one may sound off the mark but hear me out. Freeze has had his fair share of controversies in his college coaching career, but what USC coach hasn’t? In all fairness, Freeze would be a breath of fresh air for the Trojans.
Freeze is clearly an offensive-minded head coach, who could be able to get the most out of the talent available to a school with the recruiting power of USC. Plus, he certainly hasn’t taken a step back in performance since his ousting at Ole Miss.
Freeze has made Liberty of all schools a bowl contender every year that he has been there. Last season alone, the Flames went 10-1, beat Coastal Carolina in the Cure Bowl, and ended up ranked 17 in the AP Poll. Freeze is sure to get his shot again, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it came from USC.
This choice comes from the recent history of former head coaches that ended up working under Nick Saban and getting another big job. I can name two just off the top of my head in Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian. Bill O’Brien has a ton of head coaching experience, and should he stay in the college ranks, he won’t last long at Alabama.
Named the offensive coordinator at Alabama following the 2020 season, O’Brien is best known for his time with the Houston Texans. While there, he won the AFC South four times but was never able to have much postseason success. O’Brien’s NFL experience should make him an attractive candidate for any college coaching job, that is, as long as he gets the ok from Saban.
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