Its been ten days since Kliff Kingsbury officially left USC to become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. The guy who seemed excited to take on the challenge of turning around the USC offense, left for greener pastures in the NFL. In the end, Kingsbury made the best move for him and his family, but by him making the move for the NFL, he leaves Clay Helton and the USC Trojans high and dry. It has been ten days since he left USC, and nineteen days until National Signing Day and the USC Trojans have yet to name a replacement for Kingsbury. Helton has to get moving quickly, as this upcoming season could potentially be his last at the helm of the Trojan football program if they have another unsuccessful season. Helton should cast a wide net when searching for his next offensive coordinator, as this is most likely the most important hire he will make and potentially the last hire he will make as the head coach of the USC Trojans. Here are some names Helton should consider when looking for the next offensive coordinator.
Jedd Fisch: Fisch is considered by many the favorite to replace Kingsbury after spending this past season as a senior offensive assistant under Sean McVay with the Los Angeles Rams. Fisch was tabbed by former UCLA head coach Jim Mora to turn around a previously dormant UCLA offense in 2017, and was successful in doing so, leading an offense which averaged 32.9 points per game and helping Josh Rosen become the tenth pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Fisch has coached under many highly respected offensive minds such as, McVay, Brian Billick, Jim Harbaugh, Mike Shanahan, and even USC coaching legend Pete Carrol, so Fisch is a very respectable candidate for the coordinator position.
Jim Bob Cooter: If Helton wants to go the NFL route, he can turn to the now former Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Cooter. Cooter was recently let go by new head coach Matt Patricia after a disappointing 2018 season. Cooter took over the coordinator duties during the 2015 season and remained in that role until this past season. Cooter is known for his relationship with quarterback Matthew Stafford, who finished in the top 10 in passing yards in 2015 and 2016, and than finished third in the entire league in 2017. One of the red flags with Cooter is that he has never coached in college.
Matt Canada: Canada was most recently the interim head coach at Maryland, leading the Terrapins to a 5-7 record, when looking at the toxic circumstances surrounding the program is not as bad as it seems. Canada was a Broyles Award finalist in 2016 when his Pitt offense averaged 40,9 points per game, which finished tenth nationally. Lead by running back James Conner and quarterback Nathan Peterman, Canada’s offense flourished. Canada then left to become the offensive coordinator at LSU under coach Ed Ogeron, which did not lead to the same success. Helton would be hoping that Canada can repeat some of that success he had at Pittsburgh and not the failures he had at LSU.
Jeff Scott: Scott is the most outside the box candidate, and most likely a pipe dream for USC. Scott is Clemson’s co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. Scott has coached many great Clemson receivers such as, Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Williams, Hunter Renfrow, Deon Cain, Justyn Ross, and the list goes on. Scott is also a top recruiter, as he was ranked inside the top 25 recruiters by Rivals.com in 2018. It would take a big offer to convince Scott to leave the situation he is currently in, but if the Trojans are serious about turning this thing around, they should be able to make Scott one of the highest paid assistants in the country.
Major Applewhite: Formerly the head coach of Houston, Applewhite would be an interesting hire. Applewhite was a first team All Big-12 quarterback at Texas and as an assistant coach, Applewhite coached under coaches like Nick Saban, Mack Brown, and most recently Tom Herman. As a head coach, Applewhite had a 15-11 record, leading Houston to bowl games in two of his three years. His 2018 Houston offense averaged 43.9 points per game. Applewhite also carries deep ties to Texas football, allowing USC to enter the recruiting hotbed that is Texas. Applewhite’s track record is not flawless, but would represent an interesting hire for Clay Helton.
No matter who Helton chooses to be his offensive coordinator, this is a make or break season for the USC Trojans, and after the departure of Kliff Kingsbury to the NFL, the Trojans are as desperate as ever.