Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has been part of the NFL head coaching search process the past two offseasons, but could he end up taking a high-profile college job instead?
People around the NFL believe Bieniemy will emerge as a candidate for the USC head coach job, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports. Bieniemy is from Southern California and has told those close to him that USC is one of the college jobs he might entertain.
Bieniemy said this past offseason that he is disappointed he has not landed a head coaching job in the NFL. He has been passed over for some jobs, but he has also been selective. Bieniemy has a great gig at the moment as the offensive coordinator in an offense that features Patrick Mahomes and is one of the best in the league. He is likely waiting for the perfect opportunity, and it is unclear if that is how he views the USC job.
USC fired Clay Helton on Monday after he had gone 45-24 with the Trojans since 2015. In addition to Bieniemy, here are several other potential candidates to replace Helton.
USC fired Clay Helton as its head football coach on Monday, and Chris Petersen has been mentioned as a potential candidate for the job. Apparently he is not interested.
Petersen resigned as the head coach at Washington back in 2019. According to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, he has no desire to return to coaching at this time.
Petersen made Boise State into a powerhouse program and surprised many when he left. He then turned Washington back into a winner in the Pac-12. He is 147-38 as a head coach. He has proven he could win in the Pac-12 and would likely have success at USC, but he’s obviously not up to the challenge.
Though he is young by coaching standards at 56, Petersen seemed burnt out when he turned over the Washington program to Jimmy Lake.
Here are some other names USC could target in its search.
USC backers will be expecting a big name head coach hire, or at least someone highly-regarded in college football circles. It sounds like one candidate might well be atop the early list of candidates.
According to Bruce Feldman of The Athletic, a number of influential USC power brokers have been “intrigued” by Clemson offensive coordinator Tony Elliott. Elliott, a California native, is said to find the prospect of returning to his home state “very intriguing” as well.
There’s a big distance between interest in the position and actually becoming a leading candidate. Elliott has long been highly regarded in coaching circles and has attracted interest from other big schools, but has been very picky about which opportunities he wants to pursue. It remains to be seen whether the USC job would be intriguing enough for him to consider.
USC is hunting for a replacement for Clay Helton, who was fired on Monday. There are expected to be several other candidates that at least get a look from the Trojans.
USC has finally fired Clay Helton in a move that many Trojans fans felt was long overdue.
USC had not performed at the level they expect to be at in college football. They had become just an above-average team and nothing close to the national powerhouse they expect to be. Their decision to fire Helton after just two games indicates they never should have had him coaching to start this season anyway.
Now that USC needs a new head coach, they should seek someone who can return them to the Pete Carroll glory days. That is a huge request, but that will be their mission.
Here is an early list of possible head coach targets for the Trojans.
Luke Fickell, head coach, Cincinnati
Fickell, 48, has been the head coach at Cincinnati since 2017. After going 4-8 in his first season, the Bearcats have since become a power and have only lost six games. A former Ohio State player and assistant, Fickell has proven he can win as a head coach.
Most notably, current USC athletic director Mike Bohn, who previously was the AD at Cincinnati, hired Fickell while with the Bearcats. Could he repeat the trick and hire Fickell a second time?
Bob Stoops, former Oklahoma head coach
Stoops, 61, hasn’t coached in college since the 2016 season. However, he did show some coaching interest when he ran the XFL’s Dallas Renegades in 2019 and 2020 before the league filed for bankruptcy. When it comes to coaching resumes, few candidates have a better resume than he does. He won 10 Big 12 championships at Oklahoma and a national championship. USC reportedly talked with Stoops in 2019. They could reach out to him again.
Would Stoops have the desire to deal with boosters, athletic departments and a university administration? Maybe as long as the money were right.
Chris Petersen, former Washington head coach
Petersen made Boise State into a powerhouse program and did what few thought he would: he left. Then he turned Washington back into a winner in the Pac-12. He is 147-38 as a head coach. There is little doubt that he could win at USC after already winning in the Pac-12 at Washington.
The question with Petersen is whether he feels up to the challenge of returning to coaching. He is only 56 but seemed burnt out when he turned the Washington program over to Jimmy Lake.
PJ Fleck, head coach, Minnesota
The Golden Gophers have given Fleck resources and will do almost anything to keep him at Minnesota, but they will be fighting off some attempted poaches with regularity. In just three seasons, Fleck had Minnesota ranked in the top 10. Last season the Golden Gophers went 3-4 and they are 1-1 this season. Fleck has energy, enthusiasm, and has had success at Minnesota already. He would do very well in recruiting in Los Angeles. Minnesota already made a big commitment to Fleck though, signing him to a 7-year, $33 million extension after the program’s huge 2019 season.
Bill O’Brien, former Houston Texans head coach
O’Brien returned to the college game after being fired by the Texans. He took over Steve Sarkisian’s spot as offensive coordinator at Alabama and is looking to revive his name under Nick Saban. Despite all the criticism he faced, O’Brien won four division titles in seven seasons with the Texans. He went 15-9 in two seasons as Penn State’s head coach before that. He might be somewhat of a difficult personality and could be a tough sell though for USC fans. But he would have the program playing respectable ball.
Matt Campbell, head coach, Iowa State
Matt Campbell is only 41 and has done a very nice job winning at Iowa State, which is not an easy place to win. He has gone 36-29 and is in his sixth season at Iowa State. Before that, he went 35-15 at Toledo. USC would be more of a challenge, but Campbell has the success at two previous stops and the youth to potentially keep it going at USC. A young guy like him who has won at Iowa State would be attractive to USC fans. But would they be able to convince him it’s time to leave? Coaching the Trojans would probably be tempting.
Gus Malzahn, head coach, UCF
Malzahn is 55, went toe-to-toe with Nick Saban in the tough SEC West for eight seasons, and did a respectable job. He didn’t win enough for Auburn’s liking, but he beat Alabama three times, had five top-25 teams at season’s end, and three top-15 teams. He is 2-0 at UCF this season, where he should have success. He might not be exciting enough for USC fans though.
Jeff Fisher, former Tennessee Titans head coach
Not gonna happen. Just wanted to make sure you were still reading.
Last but not least, we have to mention Urban Meyer. Sorry, but he is not leaving Jacksonville so quickly to head to USC. At least I don’t think so.
Pete Thamel included some other names on the list that didn’t seem realistic to me:
USC has made what many would consider a long overdue change at the head coach position.
Trojans athletic director Mike Bohn said in a statement Monday that Clay Helton has been fired as head coach, effective immediately. Donte Williams was named interim head coach, with Bohn saying Williams “gives us a higher probability for success the remainder of the season.” Bohn added that there will be a “national search” for a new head coach over the next several months.
Helton’s firing is abrupt, but not exactly shocking. He has faced scrutiny for several seasons, and many fans have wanted him fired for several years. The last straw appears to have been Saturday’s home loss to rival Stanford, a game that the Trojans trailed by as many as 29 points in the fourth quarter. That was enough to prompt one of the school’s most legendary players to publicly turn on Helton.
Helton has been USC’s coach since 2015, initially on an interim basis before the tag was removed. He departs with a 45-24 record, having failed to win double-digit games since 2017 and exiting with only one bowl victory.
We’re only two games into the college football season and it’s already getting ugly for Clay Helton and USC.
The Trojans lost at home on Saturday night to Stanford 42-28. They were down 21-0 at the half and trailed 42-13 in the fourth quarter. And this all took place at home in the Coliseum.
Trojans fans were furious with Helton over the embarrassing defeat. Trojans legend Keyshawn Johnson, who starred for the team in 1994 and 1995, had a harsh comment.
It’s not good when a player of that caliber turns on you. When a coach loses the support of the fans and many prominent former players, it can result in a swelling of public pressure that can force action.
Not only is Johnson a former Trojan, but he also holds a broadcasting platform as a host on ESPN Radio.
USC has stood by Helton the last four seasons even though many were calling for his head after a 5-7 season in 2018. He needs to turn things around to keep the fan base off his back. Upcoming games against Washington State and Oregon State could help them turn things around.
Bru McCoy was once a highly rated prospect, but the USC wide receiver has hit another roadblock in his quest to become a household name.
Keely Eure of USCFootball.com reported on Monday that McCoy has been suspended from the USC football team following an arrest roughly a week ago. A Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson told the publication that McCoy was arrested on July 24 and charged with intimate partner violence with injury. He was released on $50,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 24.
USC confirmed that McCoy has been suspended.
“USC does not condone violence of any kind,” the athletic department said in a statement. “We are aware of the situation, and USC’s Office for Equity, Equal Opportunity, and Title IX is reviewing it. Because of federal student privacy laws, we are unable to share additional information at this time. The student-athlete has been temporarily removed from team activities.”
According to TMZ, the incident that led to McCoy’s arrest took place near USC’s campus.
McCoy was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school and ranked in the top-10 nationally. He enrolled at USC in January 2019, but he decided to leave a few weeks later and transfer to Texas after Kliff Kingsbury ended his brief tenure as the Trojans’ offensive coordinator. McCoy was with the Longhorns for just five months before he transferred back to USC, as he reportedly did not feel comfortable at Texas.
McCoy caught 21 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns last season with the Trojans. Given the serious nature of the charge and that his court date isn’t until November, it’s possible he may not play at all in 2021.
Jay Toia made the surprising decision to enter the NCAA transfer portal last month before he ever played a snap at USC, and the defensive tackle has now official made himself an enemy of Trojan fans.
Toia, who was a 4-star recruit according to Rivals, announced late on Tuesday that he has committed to UCLA.
Toia had committed to USC in 2018. The 6-foot-3, 320-pound tackle had offers from a number of schools, including several in the Pac-12. It’s unclear why he changed his mind three years later and after already enrolling at USC, but he will now be playing for the Trojans’ rival.
Though Toia’s transfer is surprising, he did show some signs last year of wavering on his commitment. He took a step back to reevaluate his decision in August, but he ended up enrolling at USC anyway.
Toia, who attended Grace Brethren in Simi Valley, Calif., ended his high school career in December and enrolled early at USC. He looked good at spring practice and attracted attention from USC coach Clay Helton. Helton and other Pac-12 coaches will now have to scheme against him.
Jay Toia’s USC career was as brief as could be.
Toia has entered the transfer portal before ever playing a snap for the Trojans.
Toia was a 4-star recruit according to Rivals. The 6-foot-3, 320-pound defensive tackle committed to USC in June of 2018. He had offers from several schools, including a number in the Pac-12.
Toia, who attended Grace Brethren in Simi Valley, Calif., ended his high school career in December and enrolled early at USC. He looked good at spring practice and attracted attention from USC coach Clay Helton.
Though Toia’s transfer is surprising, he did show some signs last year of wavering on his commitment. In August, he took a step back to reevaluate his decision, though he ended up enrolling at USC anyway.
Now Toia is on the open market. Several schools will likely have interest in him.
One man recently had a heck of a time as an unintentional honorary member of the USC Trojans football team.
The LA Daily News’ Scott Wolf reported the story during the week and has some alternating details about it. One version of the story says the man expressed that he wanted to be a walk-on for the football team and was able to participate in practice until someone asked who he was. Then security was called and the guy was kicked out.
Wolf’s follow-up story says that the impostor, alternately described as a homeless man, was acting like a full member of the team. The man reportedly shared a jacuzzi with players, ate at the football dining facility without issue, and slept at a suite in the Coliseum.
There was only an issue when the man got suited up and tried to catch punts at football practice.
Former USC football player Petros Papadakis says the story is true.
Papadakis further says that USC may have made it easier on the man to gain access to facilities because they no longer have a director of security like they used to.
The man may have been able to gain access to areas that typically would have had more security measures because some procedures were reduced during the pandemic.
See, the con works until you try to get greedy. It was all gravy until he tried to field the punts! Of course, it’s not the first time we’ve heard of impostors trying to crash a sports event.