USC Morning Buzz: More Scrutiny Needed At Top

We can all agree USC’s defense was shoddy against Oregon State.

But offensive coordinator Graham Harrell makes $1.2 million a year and I feel like this season opposing defenses believe they solved his version of the Air Raid.

Unless Drake London takes over a game, what exactly does USC do right now that vexes the other team?

So many plays look the same. And I don’t see any desire to run the ball other than as an obligation.

Harrell has had full freedom to run the offense the past three years without interference from Clay Helton. Is it making progress? Has Kedon Slovis improved?

We were all told wide receiver Tahj Washington was uncoverable but he caught two passes against Oregon State.

These problems are occurring with a laughable schedule. Imagine if USC played 1-2 marquee games to start the season? It would be ugly.

But Harrell needs to provide some answers. I’m guessing he’s already thinking about where he will be working next season. That’s another problem with this season.

Will players start focusing more on their draft stock? Will coaches worry more about getting a new job? That’s the dilemma when you have an interim coach and a bad start.

80 thoughts on “USC Morning Buzz: More Scrutiny Needed At Top

  1. I never expected Williams to turn the sc program from a soft hellton pushover vs real football teams,not even BAMAS Saban could do that with this soft program in a few weeks. If Williams can do it the last 2 games beat UCLA & BYU,AND WIN A BOWL GAME (which I doubt)… that is a turn around. They could possibly win at Colorado (don’t bet on it).
    Utah lost its q /b,so maybe, and Ariz is below avg like sc. Cancer is a terrible death,but some survive and move on, but it takes a great medical Dr. sc needs a great coach.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mike Bohn and Carol Folt have wasted the last two years. They have or will have deprived a number of USC players out of lucrative NFL careers that they would’ve otherwise had with a quality head coach. It’s really inexcusable what Bohn and Folt have put these USC players through, players who in their worst nightmares never came to USC expecting THIS. Bohn and Folt are truly incompetent.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Worse is that Folt is very competent at who she is, and sadly, that is how she will keep her job. By making Rick Caruso happy. MG, I will leave that last sentence for you…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. For sure Folt, but I’m not sure about Bohn. I believe that Bohn wanted to fire Helton after 2019 season but was stopped by Folt. Too big of a buyout, and bad optics to spend that money, even though it would be totally funded by Wayne Hughes, with all the money going out to the victims of the doctor. You can make an argument that Bohn should have resigned, but I’m not going to criticize him for not quitting after just starting this new job. This seems like the soonest he could have fired Helton, and he did. This next hire is completely on him, and will define his legacy both at USC and his entire career.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m more critical and less forgiving of, but your assessment is reasoned and sensible – still think he should have stood his ground last January and fell on the sword over the opportunity to hire Urban, but that’s easy to say when it’s not your livelihood on the line, so I’m willing to agree to judging him on the next hire – great post.

        Like

  3. In the old days, you would see USC players names when they announced the starting line ups for nfl games. You would see them along the offensive line. That was the pride of USC football. Now, all you see are receivers. That is a tell tell sign that USC is hurting.

    This season is cooked. I feel like a Cub’s fan saying this and it is, Wait until next year, but then the team will have to rebuild for that year. So i will change it and say, Wait until two years.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Michael,

        As long as you have an administration that is more interested in hitting the bong and playing political crapness, then SC will be medicore. If you have an administration that cared like Hubbard did, then SC would get the best candidate. That will never happen though.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. that would be me…2yrs re building if they get a real head coach and in the 3rd yr ,just maybe the top 4 playoffs,or 8…whatever it will be by then.

        Like

  4. The fact that Clay Helton did not have the ability to hire two top coordinators to run his program after he was named head coach was telling. I’m not sure who to blame for running the program into the ground, Helton, or the former athletic director, who seems to enjoy being in the company of men in the palm spring area ? Wink Wink 😉

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Bill —
      No one any good wanted to work under Clay from the very beginning. We all watched Clay go after big names coordinators …and fail. It would be too much to expect Clay to say “I have to step down cuz I don’t have the contacts to build a staff” —-but it wouldn’t be too much to have expected Haden, Swann or Bohn to say it for him. This is on our Athletic Directors….
      #…..MayTheyBurnInHell

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Enough about this lousy football team. When will the Arizona election results be overturned? You were there, don’t just tease us!

        Like

      2. I wasn’t there. And I wish they started in Pennsylvania or Georgia. Finding problems with chain of custody on the mail-ins in those states would be such a breeze.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This nightmare has a Part II coming up with the next hire. Or Part 5, but who’s counting?

    USC has been on a long decline since the post Chow era. People didn’t really notice that the magic formula that was a California guy who related to players, loved SC and was a great recruiter, coupled with a guy who was an Offensive Linemen who started his career as an expert OL/TE/Running game coach that then mastered the QB/Passing Coordinator game, and had a special touch and relationship with players that was beyond the rah rah stuff. Both PC and Chow were all about competition, but notably, only Chow noticed that some players, like Matt Leinart had better talent but only played better with encouragement, understanding and being secure in their position to get the most out of them.

    Another thing about Chow: he turned Steve Clarkson into an extension of his staff in practical terms, allowing for coaching of QBs and WRs in the off season, and he made the OL coaches under him look brilliant, though when we brought them back without Chow they didn’t look so hot. Post Chow we lost TEs, RBs and FBs who could block, catch and run, we lost a mature coach who could teach timing, put a QB under center and teach him to put his back to the defense on play action, who could teach a QB to roll out and throw on the run, wheel routes and backside plays, and distribute the ball around to many weapons. It wasn’t that we had the best OL, we had the best blocking / scheme and coaching.

    PC’s defense, which was all about being stripped down to the very simplest elements possible to take advantage of better talent (with the occasional flaws of not being able to solve Zone Read and Triple Option offenses, and for a while being exposed by passes to the flat and well blocked bubble screens, and the biggest flaw: no line games and few delayed blitzes when faced with equal or better talent, like in the Texas game). But in the Chow era we always played from ahead, controlled the ball, had few turn overs– all things that let the defense thrive.

    USC needs to go back to that formula.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. That’s a winning formula…but a hard one to duplicate. Where is the next Carroll? The next Chow?
      #..AndWhyWouldTheyWantToWasteTheirTimeUnderFolt&Bohn?

      Liked by 3 people

    2. It was a duo of football ingenuity that has yet to be equaled by Saban, Sweeney or anyone else in the CFB world….it just couldn’t withstand Carroll’s egotism, it showed in Pete’s later years at SC.
      If you look deeply at the Seahawks, the frequency of assistant coach changes, it appears History is repeating itself with Pete. He’s 70, oldest coach in the League, how long does he have….?

      Liked by 5 people

      1. MG-razor edge margin from winning 7 consecutive national championships (one single play in a game in 5 of those seasons) and 2 consecutive SBs…

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Fascinating discussion, my buddies. My take on Bohn is he’s a smart, decent enough guy …but lacks the balls to say “Here’s the way it has to be or I walk.” We’re seeing this on lots of fronts these days — career politicians, soldiers, administrators with the savvy to see things are going in the wrong direction but lack the guts to put themselves and their careers on the line to get things back on track.
        Watch Bohn go with a compromise candidate –somebody that has the right credentials but lacks the fight to bring USC back where it belongs.

        Liked by 1 person

    3. What worries me is that except for Pete, USC football has gotten it wrong for the last 40 years, with Smith, Tollner, Hacket, Kiff, Sark, Helton. And hiring Pete was more of “Even the blind squirrel sometimes finds the acorn”.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. ’67
        I mostly agree – I’m on record as arguing the Kiffin hire was actually successful, given the circumstances (his recruiting prowess and bring EdO back enabled the program to survive at a decent level for years)…I also think Smith was not a bad hire and he did some good work in repairing most of the damage that occurred during Tollner’s tenure (he reinvigorated the competitiveness of the program, reinstalled physicality and toughness to a certain extent…that 1988 Notre Dame 27-10 pick 6 fiasco was his undoing…the next year again let three games get away that should have been won). The others were all bad hires, and Pete was a glorious windfall…nothing about this admin. suggests they have a clue or will make or even be capable of accomplishing a “good hire.”

        Liked by 2 people

      2. James, very good points. The potential positive (I say potential) is that Bohn is a professional athletic admin, unlike Mike, Haden, or Swann. He doesn’t seem to be a slacker like Haden and Swann, and if he does his due diligence, (and not rely on a useless human resources consulting firm to manage the search, like Haden did), it shouldn’t take long, or be that hard, to identify the quality people who are interested in the job. If he makes enough calls, the same names will keep coming up. But will he be able to pay the kind of money required? Or will Folt say something like “I wont pay more than $5-$6 million a year.” Will Folt have veto power over his preferred choice?
        I have a feeling if Bohn was given an adequate budget and wouldn’t be vetoed by Folt, he would pick someone whom we could get behind.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. ’67 – Great points and you hit all of the critical points. Resources made available? Latitude/discretion in methodology? Identify the pool of legitimate candidates? All the questions that have to be (and will, for better or worse) answered!

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Unfortunately for us there are a few boxes on Carol and Mike’s checklist you left out: (1) Will the new coach dare look us in the eye when we talk to him? (2) Will the new coach smile and pretend to agree with us when we explain how he and his players can stay on the “Path of Righteousness”? (3) Will the new coach let us watch the players when they’re all soaped up in the showers like Clay did?

        Liked by 2 people

      5. MG-You know I agree with you (and don’t believe this will end well)…I’m hoping the more optimistic are right about giving Bohn some forgiveness (I’m skeptical, but there is a credible argument there).
        Growing up a USC fan, my mental checklist was: Beat UCLA…Beat Notre Dame…Won Rose Bowl (Beat Ohio State/Michigan)…Won National Championship…
        But now…yeah, your list is more of a Trapper John list, and just like the scene from the Air Force COL’s hospital in Japan, when Trapper John gets down to work, he is spot-on…now could you rustle me up ham and eggs? Steak and eggs would be better…

        Liked by 2 people

      6. If only Urban had been let in the back door by someone on the inside with sufficient power and pride…so he could take a golf club and chase Carol through the door (and then go on to perform successful life-saving surgery on the patient!).

        Ah, the Pros from Dover (as opposed to the…)

        Liked by 2 people

      7. Hurt USC infinitely more…
        All of the media garbage about Urban in Jax…gee, I seem to recall Jimmy going 1-15 with only a fluke win in season one…our illustrious Coach McKay same (although in a more patient age)…think this has less to do with his abilities and more to do with the changing values in the league, so to speak…
        My guess is he will not Saban but stay like Jimmy and by force of will achieve results (exactly why we needed him so desperately).

        Liked by 1 person

    4. ya’but he left for the money and the pros, Tenn Titans I believe and Jeff Fisher…what ever happened to him he had some success there If I remember correctly

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Don’t worry my constituents, when I take over LA, I’ll make sure that the rich get all the breaks, we’ll continue to screw over the middle and working class, and use my enormous ego to build a wall around USC that’s so high, no competent HC could get hired. You have my word. Make USC Great Again!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Not there yet –but they’re working hard on it…
        #GiveL.A.Two,MaybeThreeMoreYears….
        #[AndThisIsTheCityILovedMoreThanAnyOtherCityIEverLivedIn]

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You mean a giant wall like the one surrounding Nancy pelosis house filled with armed security. Tarey down this wall miss polosi if walls are good enough for you millions dollars house outside you district by the way) then they are good enough for our country. And yes it is exactly the same comparison

      Liked by 1 person

  7. USC’s next coach has to be a guy that will be able to attract kids from all over the country, just not Cali. The OL crop in Cali is awful, same for the DL, they have to have a guy who can recruit OL & DL nationally.

    The next coach CANNOT be a guy in his mid to late 50’s or older, USC needs a guy that will be in this for the long haul.

    The next coach has to have a track record of attracting top assistants and recruiters and coaching players up, even 4 and 5 star players.

    They also do not need an ex USC player or ex USC assistant, can’t go there anymore.

    I’ve read that Petersen wants it and that he doesn’t, I say pass. He quit on UDUB, if he was burned out he’ll get burned out trying to fix SC and he’s 56 years old.

    I think it’s going to come down to these three, Franklin, Cristobal and Fickell. Of the three, I’d take Franklin. He’s coached in the SEC and now the BIG 10, Fickell beats NO ONE on a regular basis, lets see what he does Saturday in S Bend. Cristobal is the flavor of the moment because he’s taking players from USC. Um, that was a Gomer problem, put a proven winner in his place and that stops now.

    I’m not a total Franklin fan, he’s a SJW but that’s going to play with recruits, and Folt. But he’s also had to recruit and play with the big boys for since 2011. He took Vandy to three consecutive bowl games, I know, there are 50 bowl games now, but Vandy had never done that. He’s also won at Penn St, but he did lose to Gomer, lol. He’s got that issue with the rapes at Vandy and how he handled that, would Folt have an issue with that ?

    We’ll see how it plays out, but USC better get this right or it’ll be another 5 or more years in the darkness.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Is it true that Carol, during the Oregon State game, suggested re-hiring Clay Helton?
        #”IThinkClayGivesUsOurBestChanceInTheArizonaGame….”
        #…IMightBeCalled”Coach”OneMoreTime…
        #…AndScoreOneMoreGameBall”

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Hoping we can get higher than those guys. I could see Folt vetoing Franklin for his baggage. I doubt Cristobal is leaving, Campbell has just a 57% winning record at Cincy, and Fickell has one win against a ranked team…

      Liked by 2 people

      1. No – will never believe age is dispositive (although often a factor)…he’s been a successful NFL coach, resurrected Penn. State in the wake of scandal overnight…and now has assisted with Saban…just needs the budget to hire the best staff (and unlike the DoughBoy, he wouldn’t have any problems attracting talent, provided sufficient $ and independence provided).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Agree on that…and why I think nothing will truly change until she (and consequently Bohn) are gone (signaling a change in the alignment of Triskelion power, if you know the allusion).

        Liked by 1 person

      3. O’Brien has tasted the NFL, he’s going to want to go back, if he came to USC and turned it around, he’d be gone is 4 years, then you get to do this all over again, no thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Completely valid point of view and often correct…mine is bring in best person (and it is someone who will only stay for a cup of coffee, make sure it’s executed with a larger succession plan built in – has been done and done well…granted, has also been botched)…and he’s way better than the other people being discussed…

        For fun, the best case would be to bring in Neuheisel or Mora, Jr., and have them succeed wildly and be snarky at UCLA and the LA press while endearing themselves to the national press…what fun that would be…

        But realistically…seems like a bunch of fair to middlin’ candidates, and one good one in O’Brien.

        Like

      5. I’m smiling to myself at the thought of Bohn wearing a collar…. to pressers, to locker room speeches….and struggling in pain when he goes off message…
        #…WhatAmILaughingAt?
        #That’sWhat’sActuallyHappening

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I don’t like anything that is fickell,fickle or any version, I like concrete absolute blk&wht demonstrative leadership no matter the age…hardball is the only way.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. The only answer Harrell needs to do is his phone from the high school team who thinks he might be a good fit for his brand of 8 man football. This “it’s not who we are, ” crap is for the birds. My only hope is for a clean sweep at the end of the season. Those who are clamoring for keeping Donte need to look at the group he is responsible for. The secondary has been the worst part of the defense I have ever seen. Keep him as a recruiter if you must but coaches need to do more than button helmets on the sideline during a game.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. “I thought Keaontay played really, really well all night,” offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said. “I thought he ran the ball well when he caught the football. When you’re in the hole that you’re in, you sneak a couple of runs in just to get him touches. … If we weren’t in such a big hole, we would’ve kept feeding him because I do think he had a hot hand.”

    Anyone believe that last comment ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How can we? He could have had the hot hand in the Stanford game if Harrell gave him the chance.
      #…AndEverythingIngramGets,HeGetsOnHisOwn…
      #NoBackShouldHaveToCarry3GuysOnHisBackToGet5Yards

      Like

    1. I think he is just at the wrong school ’cause hellton got him big money…hellton had so damaged sc ,and he thought he could cover it with a new version of Mike Leachs’ offense…hellton is no Mike Leach who took 2 star players and developed them like a real coach does.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I hope that Donte is allowed to fire Harrell during the season. Donte is no offensive specialist, but he could work with Jinks and McGuire and install some new plays each week that give the offense more diversity and try to scheme up some mismatches.

    Not that I think Donte/Jinks is going to be great as our OC, but how can it be worse than Harrell?

    Firing Clay didnt change any of the schematic or practice problems, because he wasnt really in control of the offensive or defensive schematics anyway.

    I need to watch a Baylor game, but think Aranda might be one of the better choices for SC.

    Liked by 2 people

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