Do you still consider the USC job one of the 10 best in college football?
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – On Sunday morning Lane Kiffin was fired as the USC football coach (Kleenex optional, but not recommended). By Sunday mid-morning all the expected names were bouncing through social media as the perfect guy to return Southern Cal to the days of Pete Carroll.
Oops. Bad choice. Sorry, NCAA.
I mean return USC to the days of John McKay. Ask your great uncle who John McKay was. USC ain't what she used to be – and I don't care about the Heisman Trophy that Reggie Bush won and gave back.
You know how the game works. Every time a coach gets whacked at a program that believes it is entitled to be in the Top 10, a coach like Chris Petersen of Boise State or David Shaw of Stanford or Charlie Strong of Louisville finds his name vacuumed into the infinite inventory of Internet column inches.
I doubt we'll hear much about Strong to USC, not the way we heard those stories about Arkansas or Tennessee last October. But Mark Whicker, the fine columnist at the Orange County Register, mentioned Strong as a possible candidate in his column Sunday night. In fact, Whicker took it another step by suggesting USC consider U of L athletic director Tom Jurich, who does have Los Angeles roots.
Strong to USC reads like a puzzling fit to me. Strong's recruiting sweet spot is Florida, not the West Coast. USC recruits nationally but California players have always been the calling card of the program. Strong's resume doesn't have a Pac-12 flavor. USC is allegedly in love with NFL assistant coach Jack Del Rio, one of the program's former stars.
USC is a splendid job.
Strong is a very good coach.
Very good coach and splendid job often translates into Speculation City. Other guys are also going to get mentioned. In fact, Gregg Doyel of CBSSports.com, put Shaw, Petersen (the Brad Stevens of college football coaches) and James Franklin of Vanderbilt at the top of his list in his piece about USC. Doyel mentioned Strong, but also doesn't see the fit.
Doyel says they're all guys who can help USC upgrade the school's image. I'm not sure what USC's image is today. Underachievers. Rule-benders. Sun Bowl-wannabes.
One name I did not see on Doyel's list – Bobby Petrino of Western Kentucky.
Has West Coast connections. Coaches an exciting style. Seems primed to slug it out in a shark tank. Probably not a fit with Haden and his Rhodes Scholarship sensibilities.
The job has barely been open 24 hours. There's plenty of time for more crazy speculation. Feel free to participate.
TOP 10 WORTHY?
Is USC one of the 10 best jobs in college football?
My former colleague, Pat Doney, was incredulous last December when I picked my Top 10 jobs in the game and did not include USC.
This was my list: 1. Alabama; 2. Florida; 3. Texas; 4. LSU; 5. Ohio State; 6. Notre Dame; 7. Georgia; 8. Oklahoma; 9. Oregon; 10. Michigan.
I still don't include USC. Do you?
I don't care about the details of how Lane Kiffin was fired. He's a big boy. I'm actually not that worried about which coach USC hires to replace him. It's a big boy program.
College football will be fine with or without a powerful Southern California. USC has been bad before (see Ted Tollner, Paul Hackett or Larry Smith video for details). Oregon has replaced USC as The Program to Watch on the West Coast.
The message that I don't want buried in the Southern Cal story is what a terrible job some athletic directors do running their programs.
You didn't have to be Kirk Herbstreit to know that hiring Kiffin was a terrible idea, destined to become a colossal failure.
Didn't do anything to earn the job coaching the Oakland Raiders.
Didn't win at Oakland.
Didn't show anything that convinced you he could win in the Southeastern Conference.
Didn't do anything extraordinary at Tennessee.
Didn't do anything to earn the Southern Cal job except work for Carroll, call Monte Kiffin, "Dad," and flash that Universal Studios smile.
Now, depending upon which report you believe, USC has to eat a mistake that will cost the school at least $2.4 million.
Anybody wish they had a booster or two in their lives whenever there is an awful decision to eat?
THIS IS A TEST
Two scores as well as statistics from Saturday games to consider:
Game One: Team A 44, Team B 41.
Nearly 950 yards of total offense.
A third-down completion festival – 14 of 26.
Game Two: Team C 48, Team D 34.
Nearly 900 yards of total offense.
A third-down completion total of only 7 for 25.
Team A vs. Team B – that's great offense.
Team C vs. Team D – that's awful defense.
Team A is Georgia, Team B is LSU.
That's SEC football. That's the way it works in the national media game.
When the score is high in the SEC, it's great offense. When the score is low, it's great defense.
Team C is Florida State, Team D is Boston College.
That's ACC football. When the score is high, there's something wrong with the defense.
THIS IS ANOTHER TEST
There are 60 voters in the Associated Press college football poll. Don't tell Mike Slive about this, but five did not vote Alabama Number One this week. They preferred Oregon.
My first reaction is to check geography. Are any of the voters who prefer the Ducks writers that cover the Pac-12?
The answer: Not really.
One is from Honolulu. Another is from Austin, Texas. There is a writer from Michigan, one from West Virginia and a fifth from Columbia, S.C. All five are voting Alabama second.
I don't see any signs of regional bias.
On the flip side, what about the guys who aren't gaga about Oregon?
Three voters have the Ducks as low as fifth and three others have Oregon fourth.
The fifth-place voters are from Idaho, Louisiana and Cleveland. The fourth-place voters work in Iowa, San Jose and Lexington, Ky.
The voters have passed the geography test. For now.
HURRY UP RUTGERS
One more week. One more slug. One more Louisville opponent that most of college football will ignore because the Cards are favored by more than 30 and capable of winning by more than 50.
The first game ball in Paul Petrino's coaching career was handed to him last Saturday by Temple – the team that Louisville plays this Saturday in Philadelphia.
Petrino and Idaho were 0-4. They had surrendered at least 40 points in every game. They got squashed by at least 32 points three times. But Idaho was good enough to beat Temple, which has alums that wrote me the nastiest emails when I wrote the Owls' football program did not belong in the Big East several years ago. (And I was right.)
Patience, please. It gets better for Louisville – a Thursday night game (Oct. 10) with Rutgers, followed by a Friday night game (Oct. 18) with Central Florida. It's not like playing Oregon or Alabama. But it's progress.