What we all know—and do not know—concerning the USC soccer teaching search


LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 23: (L-R) Athletic Director Mike Bohn of the USC Trojans shakes hands with head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans after defeating the UCLA Bruins 52-35 in a game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 23, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

USC athletic director Mike Bohn, left, shakes arms with coach Clay Helton after the Trojans defeated UCLA on the Coliseum on Nov. 23, 2019. (Sean M. Haffey / Getty Pictures)

Clay Helton was out of his job for no various hours on Monday afternoon earlier than the backchanneling started. With one among faculty soccer’s famed powerhouse applications in want of a coach following Helton’s firing, calls from brokers got here rolling in immediately at USC.

There was scarcely time for the varsity’s brass to catch its breath earlier than the rumor mill, and the attendant speculative fireworks, erupted. Each information convention denial or non-denial relating to the USC job will probably be analyzed with a Zapruder-esque stage of scrutiny. They have already got.

The urgency to seek out the proper match has by no means been greater at USC, the place the final three coaches have been fired midseason throughout a 10-year span that has yielded only one Pac-12 title. However for the 2 directors on the heart of USC’s search, athletic director Mike Bohn and his chief of workers Brandon Sosna, there’s no purpose to hurry. The advantage of firing your coach two video games into the season is that you’ve got on a regular basis on the planet to conduct an intensive search and get it proper.

That leaves us with a number of months to debate who USC ought to rent as its subsequent coach. It additionally means a minefield of misinformation to return, with all of the flimsy rumors and nameless studies the faculty soccer media can muster.

Let’s begin with what we all know — and don’t know — about the place the nascent search is headed:

The search might final three months.

There is a good risk that a number of of USC’s prime candidates will probably be teaching into December. If the correct individual continues to be teaching significant video games, USC has no drawback ready it out.

No critical conversations about its teaching emptiness have taken place but, and so much can change over the course of 1 season. If Cincinnati, Iowa State or Penn State crater within the coming weeks, curiosity of their coaches might change drastically by late November.

“We’ll undergo an exhaustive nationwide search,” Bohn mentioned Tuesday. “The excellent news is we now have time to try this. We’ll take full benefit of that point. We’ve already began with constructing our profile, constructing all the weather related to a stable search. I’m trying ahead to that. And having the Trojan household behind us will probably be a giant a part of that. I feel that’s one thing we’re going to spend so much of time rallying and attempting to make sure we’re all aligned.”

It received’t be led by a search agency.

When Bohn and Sosna performed their final teaching search at Cincinnati, it was largely contained to the 2 of them. That doesn’t imply USC received’t use a search agency in some capability; in prior searches, Bohn and Sosna have used them for such bureaucratic duties as background checks. Count on this course of to comply with the same sample, with the pair of them, and never consultants, creating the record of coaches.

Don’t count on USC to advertise its interim coach this time. However . . .

USC interim head coach Donte Williams conducts practice.

USC interim head coach Donte Williams conducts observe Wednesday on the USC observe discipline. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Instances)

The final time USC had an interim coach, Clay Helton was handed the everlasting job forward of the 2015 Pac-12 title recreation. However Donte Williams assumes the interim job with the understanding that USC plans to conduct a full search no matter his outcomes.

Williams might theoretically coach his means into candidacy. However the probabilities of him getting the job are slim given the mandate that USC make a serious assertion with its rent.

Even so, USC brass understands that no assistant on workers is extra essential to retain shifting ahead than Williams, whose work on the recruiting path performed a serious function within the Trojans’ sudden turnaround on that entrance. Whether or not he’ll be happy with an affiliate head coach and cornerbacks coach title stays to be seen, however USC will do what it could possibly to maintain him. A college supply mentioned they count on that any coach they rent can be occupied with retaining one of many nation’s greatest recruiters.

It’s too early to inform if USC will prioritize maintaining some other assistants.

“There’s no substitute for head teaching expertise.”

That was Bohn’s reply when requested Wednesday if he anticipated USC’s subsequent coach to have expertise operating his personal program. Discover that he by no means mentioned a scarcity of expertise was a dealbreaker. However any candidate with out head teaching credentials goes to wish to beat that lack of confirmed success in another means.

The one notable assistant on everybody’s early lists has been Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott, who hails from California. May a nationwide title pedigree as a coordinator be sufficient to allay issues a few lack of head teaching expertise?

Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott.

Clemson co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott speaks throughout media day for the School Soccer Playoff nationwide championship recreation in New Orleans on Jan. 11, 2020. (David J. Phillip / Related Press)

When Rick Caruso, chairman of USC’s Board of Trustees, issued a press release to the Los Angeles Instances concerning the search, he mentioned that USC wanted to rent a “world-class coach who will return the USC soccer program to probably the most aggressive and highest ranges of collegiate soccer.”

That certain feels like somebody who has already held the reins of a Energy 5 program.

USC is maintaining an open thoughts on the kind of coach it pursues.

Because the search begins, there aren’t any preconceived notions of whether or not USC ought to rent a hotshot offensive coach or an excellent defensive thoughts or some other coach search archetype for that matter. The hope is to remove biases in hopes of reaching the very best match.

Bohn did supply up a number of key, extra common qualities on Tuesday.

“Properly, no query it is management, excessive integrity, character,” Bohn mentioned. “The power to attach with younger males. As you all know, our imaginative and prescient is to be probably the most student-athlete centered program within the nation so we wish any individual that understands the connectability with younger males which might be part of this program and the flexibility to recruit and produce high-quality, character individuals to USC and once more to pursue championships.”

On that notice, don’t count on a coach with integrity questions.

Since USC President Carol Folt was employed to wash up the college’s tarnished fame following years of scandal, she has made it clear that she won’t compromise on the looks of character questions. One administrator who labored with Folt at North Carolina mentioned in 2019 that there was “not a snowball’s likelihood in hell she’d rent a coach with integrity issues.”

That dialog is bound to maneuver to the forefront once more as each candidate is carefully parsed over the subsequent two months. There’s no purpose to imagine that Folt’s stance has modified for the reason that final time it was mentioned, after the 2019 season. The urge for food for danger throughout the president’s workplace continues to be restricted in relation to coaches with off-field questions.

When Helton was final on the recent seat, City Meyer was the article of disillusioned USC followers’ deepest needs. Meyer, now the Jaguars coach, was requested on Wednesday concerning the USC search. Integrity questions have adopted Meyer since his two-championship tenure at Florida, the place 31 soccer gamers have been arrested on his watch. At Ohio State, an investigation revealed that Meyer had protected an assistant coach accused by his ex-wife of an extended historical past of home abuse.

(Meyer didn’t make it 48 hours earlier than fielding his first query concerning the presumed Trojans emptiness. “No likelihood,” the first-year Jacksonville Jaguars answered at a Wednesday information convention. “I am right here and dedicated to attempt to construct a company.”)

It’s truthful to surprise the place USC’s pertinent resolution makers will draw the road on the integrity problem. Penn State’s James Franklin got here underneath fireplace for his dealing with of a 2014 sexual assault case involving gamers he coached at Vanderbilt. Does that state of affairs rise to a stage of concern that might fear the president’s workplace?

An apparent candidate is Luke Fickell. However that doesn’t imply he’s the runaway favourite.

Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell leads warmups before a game against Murray State.

Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell leads warmups earlier than a recreation towards Murray State on Saturday in Cincinnati. (Jeff Dean / Related Press)

The Cincinnati coach is undoubtedly probably the most profitable soccer rent of Bohn’s profession, and it’s unimaginable to not join the dots in relation to USC. But it surely’s not as if the job is already Fickell’s to show down.

There are questions on whether or not Fickell would wish to commerce the Midwest, the place he’s spent his complete profession, for Southern California. Or whether or not he’d commerce Cincinnati for wherever. His spouse, Amy, was requested by the Athletic in August about Fickell turning down the teaching job at Michigan State.

“When your loved ones is completely happy and it’s a superb place, why would you allow?” she mentioned.

Cincinnati can also be on its method to the Large 12, the place Fickell might flip the Bearcats into common convention contenders.

If Bohn and Sosna believe that Fickell’s success might translate at USC, they’ll undoubtedly pursue him. However there will probably be loads extra candidates that obtain consideration, too. And lots extra time to speak about them.

This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Instances.





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