The Skinny: Riley’s Job to Lose??

The USC Athletic Department needs to take a quick step back and remember John Wooden’s famous quote: “Be Quick but Don’t Hurry”.

The day was inevitably going to come that Carroll was going to give the NFL one more shot and it appears upon us. He was never an SC lifer. A great coach that USC was lucky to have but those Pollyanna Trojans who felt he epitomized everything it is to be a Trojan are sorely mistaken. As the shock of Pete leaving wears off, the future of the program is now in the hands of an embattled Athletic Director.

Scott Wolf of the Daily News reported that Mike Garrett is viewing this as a one horse race and the horse is Oregon State Head Coach Mike Riley. Mike Riley is a fantastic coach and I have always wondered why more big time programs have not pursued him the past few years with his success in the remote location of Corvallis, Oregon.

He originally was Mike Garrett’s first choice before USC hired Pete Carroll in 2001 and it makes sense that USC would interview him. However, rushing into a decision like this without exploring all of your options could put the Athletic Department in serious peril over the next 5 to 7 years.

Even if USC takes a few more weeks to make the head coaching decision, they will still have a solid recruiting class, especially with a named coach recruits are familiar with. Obviously, the class will not be what it would have been with Carroll but the damage to the class is already done and you have to remember that this decision is about the next 4-6 years and not one recruiting class. USC has enough talent to survive a non top-10 recruiting class.

Obviously, we don’t know where the NCAA potential sanctions will play into this. If it sounds like USC will face multiple years of bowl probation, I don’t anticipate any major interest in the job and USC will have to go in the direction of a young and energetic coach until they are on steady ground again.

List of candidates and chances of them becoming coach after the jump!

Speaking of the NCAA, the university might be able to lessen any blow that is coming by dismissing Mike Garrett early this week and naming Steve Lopes the interim Athletic Director. If Garrett is dismissed, USC could present a strong case to the NCAA that the Athletic Director, Football and Basketball coach are no longer at the university and unrelated the President of the University is retiring.

In a perfect world, USC would be able to find out its fate with the NCAA this week but that probably will not happen and will hamper the ability to bring in a big name coach.

Let’s look at the list of candidates IN ORDER that USC needs to quickly speak to before making a final decision:

1- Jeff Fisher- He has already announced he is not interested in the job due to the NCAA sanctions but would be interested if that was not the case. The Trojan alum is due $16 million over the next two years as the Titans head coach but Tennessee owner Bud Adams would not mind moving in a new direction and saving some money if Fisher wanted to go to SC. Fisher is also rumored to have grown tired of some of the ownership decisions made by the Titans.

The chances of Fisher going to USC are slim due to the huge pay-cut and potential NCAA sanctions. However, if USC goes with a younger coach to get through a tough period of sanctions, he might take over at that point. He wouldn’t mind finishing his career in Los Angeles.

2- Jack Del Rio- A fairly successful NFL coach who was an All-American player at USC. He is extremely interested in the job and the Jacksonville Jaguars are interested in going in a new direction anyway. He is known as a great defensive coach with a great reputation. He is fiery and would fit in well at the college level. He can be a little rough around the edges and doesn’t have any college coaching experience.

A good chance exists that Del Rio could be USC’s next coach. He would need to be complimented by an Ed Orgeron type recruiter and an experienced college offensive coordinator. He would bring former USC running backs coach Kennedy Pola back to USC with him along with former SC quarterback and ESPN analyst Sean Salisbury.

3- Mike Riley- A great offensive mind that has done a great job at Oregon State and has a knack for getting the most out of mid-level players. The question is whether he can get the most out of elite level players. He has both pro and college experience and is underrated in the coaching world.

Riley is a likable and charismatic coach that would be a good transition from Pete Carroll. He could be named the head coach as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday depending on whether the University wants Garrett to make this decision.

4- Herm Edwards- Pure speculation. He is currently building a house in Los Angeles and is very well respected in the coaching world. If the University wanted to go in a different direction, this would be the type of person to talk to.

Putting the NCAA sanctions to the side, if USC can get the right hire they might actually be able to improve the program. I know it sounds crazy and Carroll has done an amazing job but those close to the program over the years have felt some slippage from a discipline and execution standpoint. Pete was spread quite thin over the past few years and didn’t surround himself with the top of the line coaching staff he had when national titles were being won.

The Pac-10 has stepped up in both talent and coaching and as we saw this year, the days of winning on talent alone are over. Maybe the switch to a new coaching mastermind will be a good thing. However, the golden days of Pete Carroll will never be forgotten.


0 thoughts on “The Skinny: Riley’s Job to Lose??

  1. I don’t see Riley as USC’s best choice. He hasn’t pulled in hot recruits, while Oregon has. Yes, he does well finding diamonds in the rough and coaching them, but at USC, you need to pull in the 5-star recruits if you want to be winning 11, 12 games a season on a regular basis. At Oregon State, they can settle for 4 and 5 loss seasons, just as long as they beat USC or the Ducks. At USC, we no longer settle for 4 loss seasons as witnessed by this year’s rancor.

  2. Riley is a great choice. You have to remember, 5 star recruits dont exactly translate into awesome players and Riley is great at getting those 3 and 4 star players to buy in to the game. Also, he may have been lacking in recruiting in Oregon, but thats because he was at OSU as opposed to Oregon. USC is near the top of college football, the Pac 10, and California. He wouldn’t have a problem excelling there. And as far as this years “rancor”, you’re just spoiled with USC. What was there record before 2002? and even before the Pete Carroll era? Were you a fan then, or just recently hopping on the band wagon. Get over it. It was great while it lasted, but you cant honestly think that Slippery Pete was gonna be there forever considering how many times he’s interviewed with NFL teams over the years. SC is gonna have a couple of not so stellar years coming up, but they will rebuild and it will be fine. Don’t show how much of a bandwagoner you are by saying a 9-4 down year was such a disappointment.

  3. So true jayfish. USC fans are spoiled with the high percentage of wins over the last seven years. I was around when Lou Holtz and ND were kicking our butts every year. I went through Mckay and Robinson only to see Smith and Tollner destroy the legacy. I was ticked at the hiring of Carroll but how I was wrong! Now we just have to wait and see what the NCAA does to the program, if anything. But what new coach wouldn’t love to have Matt Barkely as their Starting QB? And some recruits will still see that USC football in LA is the only football in LA. We’ll be okay this next year. Defense will mature with offense and we will be competing for a BCS title. (if allowed to).

  4. Why would Mike Riley (or any coach for that matter) want to come to USC when they’re probably going to get hit with sanctions? Besides OSU, which was no. 2 in the pac 10 this year, has tons of good players back next year. No thanks!

  5. If I were a coach, I’d be less concerned about possible sanctions than I would about working for Mike Garret. The University should push Garret into retirement.

  6. The best choice for a new head coach is Mike Leach. He was a proven winner at Texas Tech despite Texas and Texa A&M always getting the best players.

  7. USC won’t have to worry about hiring a new coach for a few years – they’ll be under the NCAA death penalty.

  8. You people are pretty foolish. If the NCAA really had something on us from Bush, don’t you think we would know about it 5 years later.

    Stop saying get rid of Garrett. He is great, and he knows what it takes to get a winner.

    That being said, the ONLY choice is Fisher. He is the best available and would be the only upgrade over Carroll. Riley could only beat us up there, and what great feat is that? Particularly when we never took them seriously.

    Fisher, Fisher, Fisher. It is the only way we can get an advantage on this. Carroll knew he was being too nice promoting the Coordinators who were not ready, and then hiring someone, Bates, who could only develope a relationship with Barkley, but did Barkley improve over the season? No, so this too was not a good hire. Carroll is leaving because it is too far down the road to salvage.

    We should have known this when he blew his cool about Sanchez. Not Pete Carroll-like.

    Fisher is the answer, and we should start pressing this as the answer so it will gain momemtum.

    Fisher….let’s get the wave moving…….

  9. Faber:

    1. The reason that the NCAA has not yet lowered the boom on USC is because they recognize that as a business they are served by having USC an elite program in an NFL-less city. That’s fairly clear. And yet, the LA Times story on McKnight and depositions from the Bush trial will force their hand. They don’t want to act, but now they can no longer wait.

    USC is of course big and rich and influential enough to hammer them back under a variety of means – antitrust law, etcetera – and the NCAA wants an easier solution that will make everyone happy. Something that keeps USC’s football program intact and does not seem to break from their prior treatment of earlier violations.

    2. Garrett does not get credit for Carroll. Remember, he did not even want to hire him. Moreover, it is far from clear whether the folks who would have preferred — Riley — would have had any success at USC. I think that the most you can say is that he had a hand in some of Carroll’s first assistants who clearly were instrumental in getting the team to where it is today.

    3. Fisher? Is Tennessee really done with him? Somehow I’d guess that hiring Fisher would require USC to pay him too much on a long contract for services not yet rendered which might later bankrupt the athletic department – particularly if the NCAA were to lower the boom!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s