USC coach Clay Helton’s forte is firing assistant coaches.
But the addition of offensive line coach Clay McGuire adds the finishing touch to an unmistakable characteristic of the present USC coaching staff.
There are now 10 coaches with ties to Texas.
- Helton went to high school in Texas.
- Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell grew up, played and coached in Texas.
- Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando coached at Houston and Texas.
- Special teams coach Sean Snyder went to high school in Texas.
- McGuire is a Texas native who also coached at Texas Tech and Texas State.
- Running backs coach Mike Jinks grew up, played and coached in Texas.
- Safeties coach Craig Naivar is a native Texan who played and coached in the state.
- Tight ends coach John David Baker went to high school, college and coached in Texas.
- Graduate assistant Stanton Keane went to high school and college in Texas.
- Quality control analyst Seth Doege went to high school and college in Texas.
Why do I highlight this? It’s not to say the coaching staff can’t get things done or recruit. Although Donte Williams seems to be racking up most of the commitments.
The worrisome part for any staff can be that it becomes too insular. There isn’t exactly a lot of geographic diversity on the USC coaching staff. Also, who stands up to Harrell or Orlando? Most of these guys were hired by the duo and are just thrilled to be in Southern California.
That probably means no one stands up to Helton, who has always preferred “yes men.”
- If you want an example of creative tension, back in 2000, defensive line Ed Orgeron got so mad once at then-linebackers coach A.J. Christoff that Orgeron punched a hole in a dry-erase board mounted on the wall that was next to Christoff’s head . The good old days!
- Derrell “Turk” Marshall, an offensive tackle at USC in 1988, passed away from a possible stroke/heart attack. Marshall also played at Bakersfield College and Woodson High School in Washington, D.C.
Marshall was recruited to USC by Ted Tollner, who envisioned Marshall as a defensive tackle. Larry Smith, then at Arizona, recruited Marshall as an offensive tackle. When Smith replaced Tollner, he had Marshall play offensive tackle.
- When you think of the excesses of Larry Scott (his $5.4 million salary, the $7 million for office space in San Francisco), it’s a far cry from the early 1960’s. Back then the conference occupied a small second-floor office on Geary St. in San Francisco that consisted of the commissioner (Tom Hamilton), the public-relations representative (Tom Hansen) and a secretary.
In those days, the Pac-12 was known as the Athletic Association of Western Universities and consisted of USC, UCLA, Cal, Stanford and Washington. Washington State joined in 1962 while Oregon and Oregon State joined in 1964. It became the Pac-8 in 1968.
- You can blame Larry Scott for many, many things. At the same time, Scott could blame USC and Clay Helton for making his job tougher. If USC were playing at Pete Carroll Era levels, Scott would have had less pressure defending the Pac-12’s relevance.
- Does it matter that neither USC nor UCLA are on the search committee to replace Scott? The presidents of Washington, Washington State and Oregon are on the committee. UCLA president Gene Block shows little interest in sports while USC president Carol Folt seems more interested in cheering on a team than actually making sure it is properly run. Both are probably happier to sit out a search.
- Why hasn’t Folt announced an investigation into whether a trustee was involved in securing a pardon for a Varsity Blues parent? She often talks about integrity so how about showing some?
- And now for some history:
- If you went to Monahan’s bar in Pasadena in the 1970’s, it was not unusual to see O.J. Simpson and Lynn Swann there hanging out. The pair were part-owners of handball courts, which were popular at the time, down the street from the bar.
- Here is another example of a Hall of Fame injustice. The College Football Hall of Fame inducted former USC player Mike McKeever but not his brother, Marlin.
Mike was a one-time All-American. Marlin was a two-time All-American and had a 13-year NFL career.
- Here’s a newspaper promo from the 1961 USC spring game that featured ex-USC players in the NFL vs. the current varsity.
- Note that early in his tenure, it was common to refer to John McKay as “Johnny.” Marv Goux used to call him “Jack” to get under his skin.
- One thing I could add about Jon Arnett is that he was never shy to express his opinion about USC football. It didn’t matter who the coach was, if standards/performance fell, Arnett let it be known, even early in the McKay era.
- Here’s an example of why none of the 1961 varsity wanted to play against Marlin McKeever in that spring game.