Clay Helton’s tenure as coach of the USC Trojans has reportedly come to an end.
According to Adam Maya of SI, USC has already made the decision to part ways with Helton after four and a half seasons. The decision is likely to be announced publicly by Monday.
USC’s top target to replace Helton will be Urban Meyer. According to Maya, USC has already been in talks with Meyer’s camp, and there is “optimism” that a deal can be worked out. The school has also put out feelers with other head coaching candidates in case discussions with Meyer fall through.
Hiring Meyer would immediately restore USC’s lost credibility as a program and raise championship expectations almost immediately. He’s won everywhere he’s gone, and the infrastructure at USC would likely enable that trend to continue.
Helton went 40-21 over parts of five seasons with the Trojans.
It was recently reported that USC was leaning toward keeping Helton, but something changed. Perhaps talks with Meyer progressed to a point where they were so confident they could get a deal with done, they had no need to keep Helton in the fold.
UPDATE: Yahoo national reporter Pete Thamel says the report is incorrect.
Just spoke to multiple USC sources. This isn't right. And USC people are rightfully steamed. https://t.co/8rcZD2dDDm
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) December 1, 2019
If you want to know what Tom Herman has done wrong at Texas this year, Urban Meyer may not be the best person to ask. The two coaches have a complicated history with one another, and that could be why Meyer had no problem criticizing his former assistant on national television Friday.
During FOX’s pregame coverage of the Texas Tech-Texas game, Meyer and his colleagues discussed what has gone wrong for the 6-5 Longhorns this season. Meyer pointed out how they have done an excellent job recruiting in recent years but not been able to develop those recruits into NFL players. While he may not have come out and said it, he was clearly criticizing Herman.
— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 29, 2019
“It’s not just recruiting, but recruiting and player development,” Meyer said. “When you talk about an evaluation period — when you see injuries and you see non-development of players as NFL guys, why is that? Is it assistant coaches? Is it the weight room? Is it the nutrition program? You can’t just put this on players. You’ve gotta say, ‘What’s going on when they get there?'”
Meyer noted how Alabama has had 46 players drafted since 2015 and Ohio State (his former team) has had 40. Despite having one of the top recruiting classes in the nation every year, Texas has only had 13 players drafted during that span. That could be Meyer’s way of telling Herman, “Look how much better I am than you.”
It’s possible Meyer was just doing his job as an analyst and calling it like he sees it, but many believe he couldn’t wait to rip Herman. Why? Herman was a coach under Meyer at Ohio State from 2012-2014 before he left to take the Houston head coaching job, and there was a report that he was the one who leaked the story about Meyer covering up domestic violence allegations against a member of his staff. Herman denied it and said neither he nor his wife had anything to do with it.
What Meyer said was accurate, but it would not be a surprise if he took pleasure in saying it.
Alabama coach Nick Saban has come under significant criticism for his handling of quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in Saturday’s game, but another high-profile name in the sport has his back.
Tagovailoa was still in the game with three minutes left in the first half despite the fact that he was still recovering from an ankle injury and had the team ahead 35-7. That was the point that Tagovailoa hurt his hip, an injury that is set to end his season. Many argued that Saban was reckless with his quarterback and that Tagovailoa should have been resting by that point. Saban later said in an interview that that was going to be Tagovailoa’s last possession of the game.
Urban Meyer, now doing analysis for FOX Sports, said he understood where Saban was coming from in his decision to leave Tagovailoa in.
“I was staring at Coach Saban’s face right there. He’s hurting,” Meyer said. “He’s gonna get his players ready to play the games coming up down the road. … It’s the obligation of the coach to get the team ready. And he sees Auburn coming down the road, a potential SEC Championship, and he made the comment about a two-minute drill. I certainly understand that. Is it the right thing or the wrong thing? That’s his decision to make with the player involved.”
Meyer also relayed a story from when he was coaching Florida about an injury suffered by Tim Tebow. Meyer had decided Tebow would not play in a massive game against LSU, but he was cleared by doctors. Meyer initially didn’t change his stance until a “heated” discussion with Tebow and his father, and the coach ultimately relented. That story was meant to illustrate that players want to play, and that Tagovailoa probably didn’t want to be sitting, either.
Saban said as much after the game.
The "kid" wanted to play this week. He advocated for it. He was given the opportunity to not play. He and his family wanted to play because they felt he was well enough to play. Stop blaming and just be concerned about the "kid." You don't know what the hell you're talking about.
— Aaron Suttles (@AaronSuttles) November 16, 2019
Tagovailoa’s injury sounds very severe, and the second-guessing of Saban will continue. That second-guessing does not sound likely to come from Meyer.
Michigan fans probably don’t like it, but Urban Meyer trolling their school is becoming a somewhat regular occasion as part of FOX’s pregame coverage.
It happened again Saturday, as Meyer was part of the team previewing Michigan’s rivalry game against Michigan State. Meyer has gotten in a few jabs at the Wolverines over the course of the season, and he didn’t miss the opportunity here, either.
Urban Meyer was asked on Big Noon Saturday if he knows the words to Michigan’s fight song.
Meyer: “I know 7-0.”
— Wyatt Crosher (@wcrosher) November 16, 2019
In case you weren’t aware, 7-0 would be Meyer’s record against Michigan with Ohio State. Just, you know, as a gentle reminder.
This is nothing new for Meyer on the pregame show. He’s an Ohio State guy. This is going to keep up as long as he’s an analyst, so maybe Wolverines fans should be rooting for Meyer to land one of those jobs he’s interested in.
- Urban Meyer
USC fans may be dreaming of Urban Meyer swooping in next season and returning their football program to national championship contention, but it is possible Meyer won’t get the Trojans head coaching job even if he wants it.
There has been talk for weeks now that USC president Carol Folt is against hiring Meyer because of all the controversy that has surrounded him over the years. According to a new report from Scott Wolf of the LA Daily News, Folt has not changed her stance and does not intend to let the school’s new athletic director pursue Meyer.
Cincinnati athletic director Mike Bohn is said to have a deal in place to take the same position at USC, but an official announcement has not been made. A separate report from Wolf claimed Bohn is having second thoughts about taking the job because of Folt’s anti-Meyer stance, though ultimately USC’s administration still believes the deal will get done.
Meyer has won three national championships, and there is no question he could rescue the Trojans with his recruiting prowess alone. However, USC has had a number of problems to deal with recently, as the admissions scandal that rocked the school is still playing out. The Trojans were also one of the teams involved in the FBI’s investigation into corruption within college basketball. Folt likely played a role in former athletic director Lynn Swann recently stepping down, as Swann was heavily criticized for the way he handled a lot of the issues at USC during his three-plus years there.
USC’s football program is at a level of mediocrity unaccepted by their fans, and boosters likely see Meyer as a potential savior. We have heard of at least one other top coach they could pursue, but most Trojan fans would be disappointed with anyone other than Meyer. If Meyer wants the job and Folt won’t let him have it, they will be downright outraged.
USC supposedly has a deal in place with Cincinnati athletic director Mike Bohn to make him their next AD, but many expected an official announcement on Monday. While the Trojans could make the move official at some point this week, speculation is increasing that Bohn may be having second thoughts.
According to a report from Scott Wolf of the LA Daily News, Bohn is considering backing out of his agreement with USC after university president Carol Folt informed him that he will not be able to hire Urban Meyer as the school’s next football coach. Several other athletic director candidates are said to have turned down the USC job because they were told Meyer was not an option, but Wolf reports that Bohn was not informed of this until after he agreed to take the position.
Meyer has been repeatedly linked to USC, but a recent report claimed Folt, who became USC’s president earlier this year, does not want to hire Meyer because of all the controversy that surrounds him. USC has enough problems to deal with, as the admissions scandal that rocked the school is still playing out. The Trojans were also one of the teams involved in the FBI’s investigation into corruption within college basketball. Folt likely played a role in former athletic director Lynn Swann recently stepping down, as Swann was heavily criticized for the way he handled a lot of the issues at USC during his three-plus years there.
There was some belief that Bohn’s impending hire at USC meant the Trojans were not going to pursue Meyer, as Meyer has a history of forging deep ties with athletic directors and does not have that type of relationship with Bohn. However, the two do have some ties — Meyer is a University of Cincinnati alumni who played football at the school. He and Bohn worked together at Colorado State in the ’90s, and Meyer’s son plays baseball at Cincinnati. Bohn was also complimentary of Meyer a few years back.
Thank you, coach! Prominent alumni like you make us proud! https://t.co/ehSn5JwXQZ
— Mike Bohn (@mikebohn_uc) December 10, 2016
USC’s football program is at a level of mediocrity unaccepted by their fans, and no one really knows what their plan is with Meyer. We have heard of at least one other top coach they could pursue, but Trojan fans are probably going to be disappointed with anyone other than Meyer. If they lose Bohn because of an unwillingness to pursue Meyer, things could get even uglier.
The former Ohio State coach called the playoff a “failed system” and blamed a lack of uniform scheduling for the format’s difficulties.
“It’s failed system right now,” Meyer said, via Garrett Stepien of 247 Sports. “It’s good and I think it’s done a good job. However, the No. 1 issue is uniform scheduling. Some team’s conferences (such as the Big Ten) are playing nine games, some eight. Some teams never go on the road, some teams play weak schedules. And then you hear things about subjectivity, like the look test. And my head wants to pop off my shoulder when I hear that — like, who is equipped to make that decision? What are you looking at? Do you understand, when you play a great team on the road — LSU goes to Texas to play (Sept. 7 and the Tigers win 45-38 at the Longhorns’ homefield in Week 2) — that’s much more difficult than playing at home when you’re picked to win by 55 points.”
Meyer urged teams to schedule home-and-home games which are better for everyone involved as opposed to guarantee games against FCS opponents.
“I’ve been on the other side,” Meyer said. “That’s not safe for the players, playing that game. What are you doing? Don’t do that. And I’m not saying don’t ever schedule and FCS, but don’t get rewarded for it. If you get rewarded for a look test, it’s not because you put up 350 yards against a team that’s not very good. Uniform scheduling, play a Power Five home-and-home, and whether you go four-team or eight-team, I think the subjectivity is going to be minimized because of you’re playing a similar schedule.”
Many argue that the playoff needs to be expanded, and there are rumblings it’s at least possible. Meyer’s point is that won’t matter while some teams are playing much easier schedules than others. He’s likely correct.
- Urban Meyer