FC/OT: Great article about what went wrong at USC - and what the new coach there has to fix....(Franklin mention)...

Obliviax

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Matt Rhule ain’t coming here dude. Stop already. Most people think Franklin is just right for PSU. USC hasn’t been relevant in decades. How many PAC 10/12 teams have made the playoffs.
what are you talking about? When did I mention Matt Rhule or that Franklin was going to USC?
 

Texas Lion

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Matt Rhule ain’t coming here dude. Stop already. Most people think Franklin is just right for PSU. USC hasn’t been relevant in decades. How many PAC 10/12 teams have made the playoffs.
A 1 loss USC PAC 12 Champ would make the playoff almost all of the time.
 

OzLion

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My wife is an Oklahoma alum, so I'm familiar with all this from the Bob Stoops era. It happened every year and Stoops usually managed to get something from it (a raise, renovations, something for assistance, etc.)

As long as Franklin keeps the team winning and keeps recruiting well, whoever is our AD is going to have to deal with the prospect of other schools poaching him and will have to sweeten the pot to keep him... and we should keep him, he's been great for PSU.
 

ftlpsu

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Lot of Great points on the 1st page threads--by many of you, and Agree i.e. my LIKES

Franklin could go there---combine FL/PA into 1 big House with an Ocean view and year round weather isn't too shabby..LA is also multi-cultural---no need to elaborate there, not sure its a huge concern or not? Not sure any of you do on that one?

Franklin isn't going there unless he gets a long term Contract (more than 4 yrs) and would probably have to be at least $8.5M a year.

I believe he could blow up the recruiting seen and truly recruit Nationally with ease.

He has learned from his mistakes at PSU--so he might think hey I could do this and that etc...3rd Chapter and Clean slate.

I hope he stays---Rhule cant recruit and UM isnt coming here unless Franklin rolls and UM really hates the NFL.

Try and remove your sentimental emotions and loyalty what would it take for YOU to go to USC?
 

Waste Management Consultant

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My wife is an Oklahoma alum, so I'm familiar with all this from the Bob Stoops era. It happened every year and Stoops usually managed to get something from it (a raise, renovations, something for assistance, etc.)

As long as Franklin keeps the team winning and keeps recruiting well, whoever is our AD is going to have to deal with the prospect of other schools poaching him and will have to sweeten the pot to keep him... and we should keep him, he's been great for PSU.
Nice thought, but does he want to keep PSU?
 

WestSideLion

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I think Urban's going to have a bad season at Jax. It's going to take a while to right that ship.

Urban may throw his hat in the ring and USC fits his MO.
If you read the article, then USC doesn't fit Urban's MO at all. It's a full-scale rebuild on a talent level. Does Urbs want to spend 3-4 years recruiting and rebuilding that roster? I'd say LSU would be much more aligned with Urbs' MO.
 
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L.A.Lion

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Where does he think he has the best chance going forward ? Another factor is Mrs. CJF.
I know nothing of her early life. Where was she raised ? Where did she matriculate for college ? Is she, as a minority woman , comfortable living in rural PA and does she see SC as the best place to raise her daughters ? Or would she be happier living in the extremely diverse community of Los Angeles ?

Add in the fact the USC will be willing to fork out $$$$$ for support and pay to assistants that PSU probably won't and there will be NIL $$$ in LA that aren't going to be available in State College . I don't see Stocker Chevrolet or WR Hickey coming through with major $$.

In addition there are major stories from Joel Klatt , Colin Cowherd and others are stating that CJF is USC's primary choice.
I was curious about Mrs. Franklin as well, so I did some digging for articles and all I came up with regarding her roots is that her baccalaureate degree is from Washington State, where she first met her husband. One article claimed that she is originally from Washington and remains a diehard Cougars fan, Another pre-pandemic article quoted her as saying she likes State College because it reminds her of Pullman, and she likes the fact that in a small town she can get to her husband's office in a few minutes and see/have dinner with him when he's working late, which is most days.

The neighborhoods immediately around USC's campus are shitty, and the closest areas someone with their money, high profile, and concerns over family privacy and safety would likely live--neighborhoods like Hancock Park, for example--are more than a quick ten minute drive during rush hour.

If it's true she grew up in Washington, and not anywhere near Seattle, I don't see LA appealing to her over State College, especially as a place to raise two adolescent daughters into balanced, well-grounded human beings.

But what do I know?
 

MacNit07

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Matt Rhule ain’t coming here dude. Stop already. Most people think Franklin is just right for PSU. USC hasn’t been relevant in decades. How many PAC 10/12 teams have made the playoffs.
Matt Rhule once coached Temple…he could certainly coach at Penn State when the time is right…
 

sgw107

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I was curious about Mrs. Franklin as well, so I did some digging for articles and all I came up with regarding her roots is that her baccalaureate degree is from Washington State, where she first met her husband. One article claimed that she is originally from Washington and remains a diehard Cougars fan, Another pre-pandemic article quoted her as saying she likes State College because it reminds her of Pullman, and she likes the fact that in a small town she can get to her husband's office in a few minutes and see/have dinner with him when he's working late, which is most days.

The neighborhoods immediately around USC's campus are shitty, and the closest areas someone with their money, high profile, and concerns over family privacy and safety would likely live--neighborhoods like Hancock Park, for example--are more than a quick ten minute drive during rush hour.

If it's true she grew up in Washington, and not anywhere near Seattle, I don't see LA appealing to her over State College, especially as a place to raise two adolescent daughters into balanced, well-grounded human beings.

But what do I know?
Great research and insight, L.A. Yes, I remember reading that article when it came out. I visited L.A. in 2019 and drove around for 5 hours a day, every day for a week. I was never there before and wanted to go my whole life. Had an awesome time! I want to go back. However, living there would be a whole different story. It’s definitely not a town in the country like state college with a community feel. (Maybe certain neighborhoods do). Also, I don’t think this gets brought up enough, even if you have tons of money like James Franklin would have, it would still be a shock to move there from state college/Pullman. The congestion, the driving etc…. It has its advantages don’t get me wrong. Lots to do there and gorgeous scenery outside city, culture, food…. I understand living in state college probably can be suffocating, but they do have a house in Florida. In the end, no one knows what they are thinking, they may be ready for a change and move. We’ll just have to see.
 

PSU73

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He's not going to USC. Now there are a couple big jobs in the SEC that could be opening and would worry me more.

He's using the media spin to get a big paycheck for Yurcich. Just like he used Tenn, FSU, USC, A&M in the past for more money and resources. He's too close right now to start from scratch with a program that doesn't have the $$$ to pay him nor his assistants. Franklin finally found his stud OC + has the number one recruiting class that includes the elite QB we've been looking for. Also, we currently have a top ten program. If we beat OSU this year, PSU could be in the BIG driver's seat.
Perhaps we (just as JF) should all be worried about losing Yurcich. Losing Joe Morehead hurt.
 

Midnighter2

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IMO, Franklin leaves for usc after the season.

I'm over speculating about CJF leaving, even though it comes up every single f'n year. I only posted the article because more interesting than who USC is targeting for their next HC is some of the 'behind the curtain' reveals (boosted recruiting rankings, coaches acting like USC is just a country club, etc.) about the program. It's obvious the right coach will kill it there. That said, I think there are fewer guys who can succeed at USC than PSU, which seems counter-intuitive, but I believe the ceiling at USC is higher for prolonged success (whereas PSU will have to have a few more things go their way each year).

WIN FOREVER. :cool:

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L.A.Lion

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I believe he could blow up the recruiting seen and truly recruit Nationally with ease.
USC's current problem is not that they're failing to recruit nationally; it's that they're failing to recruit locally. Los Angeles County and Orange County have a combined population larger than Pennsylvania and are both football talent hotspots. Add the population of San Diego County (Reggie Bush's home) and those three counties have more people than every other state in the Union except New York, Texas, and Florida. Two local high schools alone (Long Beach Poly in LA County and Mater Dei in Orange County) have between them dozens of alumni who have played in the NFL over the years. Right now schools like Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma, and others are getting the kids who would have committed to USC before Helton. Oklahoma's only 5* 2022 commit is from Mater Dei. Alabama's Bryce Young is also a Mater Dei grad. Oregon's 2022 class has three 4* commits from Orange and San Diego counties. If the next coach can keep local talent home, SC will return to having consistently top 20 recruiting classes and will be competing for Pac 12 titles every year; he won't have to recruit kids from Texas or Florida or anywhere else if he doesn't want to spend resources outside the region.
 
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fairfaxlion2

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They won’t hire Franklin. With the way they make decisions he’ll be out of The running. I could see O’Brien there, though. They will somehow reason that his NFL time makes him Pete Carroll
 

L.A.Lion

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And yet millions of people live there. I'd bet some of them even like it. Weird.
No, we hate it here. Every single one of us. We're the BobPSU92 of places to live. We'd all drive away but we're choking on smoke from wildfires and smog so we can't walk all the way to our cars without gasping for air.

Stay far away, James Franklin! This unlivable hellhole is not for you and your beautiful family.
 
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blion72

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I was curious about Mrs. Franklin as well, so I did some digging for articles and all I came up with regarding her roots is that her baccalaureate degree is from Washington State, where she first met her husband. One article claimed that she is originally from Washington and remains a diehard Cougars fan, Another pre-pandemic article quoted her as saying she likes State College because it reminds her of Pullman, and she likes the fact that in a small town she can get to her husband's office in a few minutes and see/have dinner with him when he's working late, which is most days.

The neighborhoods immediately around USC's campus are shitty, and the closest areas someone with their money, high profile, and concerns over family privacy and safety would likely live--neighborhoods like Hancock Park, for example--are more than a quick ten minute drive during rush hour.

If it's true she grew up in Washington, and not anywhere near Seattle, I don't see LA appealing to her over State College, especially as a place to raise two adolescent daughters into balanced, well-grounded human beings.

But what do I know?
LA has to be one of the worst places to have a family. Also, USC is not a better job than Penn State. I think one of the big SEC jobs would be where JF might consider. I have always assumed when Saban retires they go Dabo, but JF would be a candidate there.

If for some reason JF left after this season, hopefully we hold the recruiting class. nothing like a coaching change to mess the recruits.
 

nittanyfan333

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Great research and insight, L.A. Yes, I remember reading that article when it came out. I visited L.A. in 2019 and drove around for 5 hours a day, every day for a week. I was never there before and wanted to go my whole life. Had an awesome time! I want to go back. However, living there would be a whole different story. It’s definitely not a town in the country like state college with a community feel. (Maybe certain neighborhoods do). Also, I don’t think this gets brought up enough, even if you have tons of money like James Franklin would have, it would still be a shock to move there from state college/Pullman. The congestion, the driving etc…. It has its advantages don’t get me wrong. Lots to do there and gorgeous scenery outside city, culture, food…. I understand living in state college probably can be suffocating, but they do have a house in Florida. In the end, no one knows what they are thinking, they may be ready for a change and move. We’ll just have to see.

Unless he's a cunning sell-out, this is exactly why I always thought there's no chance of him going. He preaches family and togetherness and academics. I just don't see those things being synonymous with USC. USC is a big business, and when I think of a big business, I think cold, calculated and bottom-dollar. USC is Dunder Mifflin, PSU is Prince Family Paper (https://theoffice.fandom.com/wiki/Prince_Family_Paper)
 
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WestSideLion

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They won’t hire Franklin. With the way they make decisions he’ll be out of The running. I could see O’Brien there, though. They will somehow reason that his NFL time makes him Pete Carroll
USC should go former NFL. They need street cred and sizzle there. Kids want NFL pedigree. OB likely isn’t a great fit in terms of recruiting, though.
 

McCloudersportLion

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That stretch under PC was the only time in the last 40 years that USC actually was this juggernaut anyway. I'm not someone subscribing to this assumption so many seem to have that USC is a sleeping giant. The rest of the Pac10 was also total shite during the Pete Carroll years.
 
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sgw107

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Unless he's a cunning sell-out, this is exactly why I always thought there's no chance of him going. He preaches family and togetherness and academics. I just don't see those things being synonymous with USC. USC is a big business, and when I think of a big business, I think cold, calculated and bottom-dollar. USC is Dunder Mifflin, PSU is Prince Family Paper (https://theoffice.fandom.com/wiki/Prince_Family_Paper)
Yes, that's a good point no one brings up. Fit is a big factor. I know the media think he's a great fit because of his outgoing personality. I've always thought about that when he is rumored to go to one of the "glamor" schools. His core values really seem to fit with penn state. Is he acting like that because he is at penn state or is he really like that? From all that we know about him being here for 7 years, he seems to be actually like that. In that case going to USC maybe wouldn't be the best move. Disclaimer: I think he could make it work at any school. Also, I know USC is a great academic school. And yes, he would have massive expectations in his first year to clean up that dumpster fire. He might get a longer leash because the program is in bad shape. Also, in relation to fit: Probably almost all his contacts/relationships are in the mid-atlantic region. How does that affect his ability to create a staff that he trusts? Unless everyone just follows him there. Not sure how that works. I know almost all the Vanderbilt staff came I think. Like The Office reference!
 

jbenedict

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He's not going to USC. Now there are a couple big jobs in the SEC that could be opening and would worry me more.

He's using the media spin to get a big paycheck for Yurcich. Just like he used Tenn, FSU, USC, A&M in the past for more money and resources. He's too close right now to start from scratch with a program that doesn't have the $$$ to pay him nor his assistants. Franklin finally found his stud OC + has the number one recruiting class that includes the elite QB we've been looking for. Also, we currently have a top ten program. If we beat OSU this year, PSU could be in the BIG driver's seat.
That make sense regarding Yurcich. I am certain this approach will benefit him financially also.
 

NittanyBuff24

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And it largely revolves around a HC with no edge, poor assistant coaching hires, and of course, very little staff interest in recruiting. Will be fascinating to see who USC ends up with. There is a Franklin mention too at the end of the article - people are noticing what he's doing at Penn State....

How USC crashed a ‘friggin’ Ferrari’ of talent, and what it means for the next head coach​

Bruce Feldman and Antonio Morales Sep 23, 2021
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LOS ANGELES — “Clay Helton walks in the room after Nick Saban or Urban Meyer, and nobody thinks, ‘That’s a real guy,’” a former USC assistant coach, one who had been celebrated for his work on the recruiting trail for more than a decade, told The Athletic. “We had some assistants who were more recognizable than the head coach. When the heavy hitters came in — Saban, Urban Meyer, Dabo — it was the ultimate checkmate. It wasn’t anything against him (Helton). He did the best by the kids. He tried to treat everybody right, but how does USC not even end up in the top 30 nationally? (In 2020, USC had the nation’s No. 64 recruiting class — 12th in the Pac-12.) That should never happen. Never.”

And that was what he pointed to, that recruiting dynamic, when asked how USC lost its way. Regardless of on-field results, USC has traditionally been viewed as the most talented team in the Pac-12. Now, it’ll simply take the eye test or some recruiting calculations to tell you that title belongs to Oregon.

From 2009 to 2018, USC had five recruiting classes ranked in the top four nationally and nine top-10 classes. But when the NFL opened the 2021 regular season, USC wasn’t even among the top 20 programs with players on NFL rosters for Week 1. (In 2016, the Trojans were tied for second.) How does that happen? How exactly did USC fall off so badly?

After The Athletic spoke to a dozen people who either worked in the program, were closely affiliated with it, coached against the Trojans or have a deep knowledge of the Southern California recruiting scene since Pete Carroll left for the NFL, this much is clear: There are several factors that have led to the Trojans squandering their talent advantage over the rest of the West Coast — largely recruiting deficiencies and a lack of development — and their next head coach will be the one dealing with the ramifications.
“I don’t think the people who support the team realize the damage,” said one parent of a former USC player whose son played in the NFL this weekend. “You know how when celebrities get in trouble, then bring in a team to fix all their problems? SC needs five of those.”

Last week, a different former USC assistant coach, who is now coaching at another FBS program, sat on the phone reflecting on what went wrong for Helton, the man who hired him. He thought Helton did a good job of letting coaches coach and not micromanaging. But ultimately, there’s more to the gig than people skills.

“Looking back on it,” the coach said, “he didn’t hire the right people, and maybe I am one of them. That sounds bad.”
In the early 2000s, Carroll built a recruiting juggernaut at USC. He set the tone with a dynamic personality which served the Trojans well as the face of the program amid the crowded sports market that is Los Angeles. But he also built a star-studded staff of recruiters with headliners Ed Orgeron, Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian, who remain some of the best recruiters in the sport nearly 20 years later. And that’s not to overlook assistants like Kennedy Polamalu and Rocky Seto, who were really strong recruiters.
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“Pete (Carroll) managed his staff in a great way. That’s what they need to get back to. Someone who can capture the team and the city,” said a former Trojan player. (Kevork Djansezian / Getty)

Carroll left in 2010 to coach the Seahawks, and Kiffin was hired to replace him. Two of the coaches he brought back were Orgeron and Polamalu. The recruiting formula wasn’t going to stray too far from what had been successful.

But Kiffin, who was dealing with the fallout of crippling NCAA sanctions, was fired early in the 2013 season. Orgeron took over as the interim and went 6-2 to finish the regular season, but Sarkisian eventually landed the job. That’s when cracks started to show in the recruiting foundation. Sarkisian was a Carroll disciple himself, but most of his staff consisted of assistants who came with him from Washington, which was consistently average during Sarkisian’s time there, or assistants who were at USC but hadn’t really experienced true success there, like Helton.

“What happened was after Sark got fired, and really it started after the whole thing when Ed didn’t get the job. So you had Lane and these Pete Carroll disciples, those old-schoolers,” one of the former assistants said. “They had a way. They knew how to get talent — wide receivers were supposed to be like this; the D-linemen were supposed to play like this — it was very clear, but then it started to waver.

“Clay got thrown the keys to a friggin’ Ferrari.”

“When they brought Clay in, I just think the lack of hiring really good (assistant) coaches was the downfall,” one successful Southern California high school coach said. “Kids want to be in a professional environment and want to have an opportunity to potentially play in the NFL and play in the College Football Playoff — and they know SC is nowhere near that happening with those guys.”
During one eight-year stretch under Carroll that sparked seven top-four finishes, the Trojans produced 16 first-round picks — 10 more than USC has had in the last eight years.

“Clay’s a nice dude but had no edge to him,” said a former Trojan player who now works in the NFL. “They took advantage of him. Pete was a grinder but as a player you never knew that. When the players weren’t around, he was totally different with the staff. Pete had a big personality and was fun, but he was also a disciplinarian. He had KP (Polamalu) and Ed Orgeron — those guys handled the discipline. They were tone-setters. Pete managed his staff in a great way. That’s what they need to get back to. Someone who can capture the team and the city.”

As far as recruiting went, there was a lot of dead weight on Helton’s staff. Former defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast was never too interested in recruiting. Neither was former secondary coach Ronnie Bradford nor offensive line coach Neil Callaway.
“He had guys on the staff who he let not recruit at all,” one of the former assistants said. “He got away from what USC is.”
Said one former recruiting staffer, “Coaches on the 2018 and 2019 staffs didn’t recruit. Didn’t care. No leadership. Acted like it was a country club to hang out rather than compete. It was 1,000 percent laziness.”

That helps explain how defensive players USC could really use on its roster now got away during the 2019 recruiting cycle: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Mykael Wright and Mase Funa, who all signed with Oregon, and Trent McDuffie, who signed with Washington. Another big miss came a year later in the 2020 class, when five-star quarterback Bryce Young, from Trojans pipeline Mater Dei, decommitted from USC to sign with Alabama as uncertainty over Helton’s job status reigned.

Another big problem under Helton’s staff(s) was a noticeable lack of development with some of its blue-chip signees. Helton signed 44 blue-chip prospects during his first three recruiting cycles as USC’s head coach.

The 2018 class, the last of those three cycles, just became draft eligible this past year. Only four of those 44 blue-chip prospects were drafted on the first or second day of the draft; only two (Austin Jackson and Alijah Vera-Tucker) went in the first round.
The Trojans signed eight five-star prospects during that span. One has been drafted (Amon-Ra St. Brown). Five transferred to other programs. Two got into legal trouble. One went undrafted.

The only non-blue-chip player USC has developed into an NFL Draft pick over the past five or six years has been Uchenna Nwosu.
“It was a combo (of things),” another former recruiting staffer said. “Some bad players, some coaches who weren’t great evaluators or teachers. Every coach has a different personality and wants different traits in guys. When you are changing coaches every year, the new guy isn’t going to like some of the players the old coach signed.”

“It was a real professional approach to developing their players (under Carroll),” the high school coach said. “You’re looking at the players they had and how much better they got in the time — I mean, look at Clay Matthews III. The guy was a beast in the NFL because of what he was able to do in that program and how much better he got from the time he started to the time he ended. I don’t see them having a whole lot of that now.”

Another high school coach who has sent several players to USC over the years hears from his friends who are Trojans fans every signing day. They’re beaming with excitement about the players.

“‘They got this guy, this guy, this guy!’ But a lot of the time, those guys don’t fit what they’re trying to do,” this coach said. “They signed them because they’re a five-star. This is not basketball. This is football, and you want to try to get the guys who will fit your spot.

“I think it’s really hard to develop people when you’re starting from a fit deficit. I think that’s the problem. Maybe they did develop that kid, but that kid’s a 3-4 backer and you’re trying to play a 4-3 or whatever. … I think it all starts with the fact they’re getting guys who don’t fit and they’re having to develop them into something they’re not.”

There’s an interesting college football experiment unfolding in Los Angeles right now. At USC, talent acquisition has always been king. At the opposite end is UCLA, which has prioritized fit and development above all else under Chip Kelly at the expense of elite talent.
Kelly posted losing records in his first three seasons and didn’t show signs of a potential breakthrough until this month. The same kind of patience will never be afforded at USC, which has suffered through just four losing seasons since 1962 — UCLA has had 21 in the same span.

“They have a talent deficit with SC,” this high school coach said of the Bruins, “but they’re much more well fit into their program than SC ever is. That’s why I think when they play each other, they compete so well. … I think there’s probably a happy medium somewhere in the middle.”

The expectations at USC are fairly straightforward: Compete for Rose Bowls and national championships and pull in top-10 recruiting classes.

Top-10 classes are determined by the recruiting sites, and while they’re typically accurate at the top, USC has generally been an outlier. Stars matter, but they seem to matter more at Alabama and Ohio State than they do at USC, which has a top-10 roster according to 247Sports’ team talent composite, but doesn’t have the talent that reflects a top-10 team.

In some instances, the Trojans signed players who were simply overrated by the recruiting services.

“They’re over-ranked,” the parent of the former Trojan and current NFL player said. “And then the machine perpetuates it because they go, ‘Hey, who has the most five-stars?’ Everybody wants to have the most five-star athletes. It doesn’t matter if a guy is a five-star or not. … So they get all these guys on their team but they’re not good football players.”

“USC always is gonna be ranked top 10 in recruiting but that’s because when you commit to USC you’re all of a sudden ‘a great’ recruit,’” one of the former assistants said. “We had coaches in the building who knew the guys at (the recruiting sites) and they’d call them, ‘Hey I need you to rate this kid as a 4-star before I take his commitment.’ That’s the way that stuff works.

“If we signed 25 kids there were 10 of them that were that way. We had so many (four and five-star guys) who were just terrible. We signed one five-star linebacker and he would’ve been a really good player 30 years ago when it was just going from A-gap to A-gap but not these days when you gotta go tackle perimeter screens now and go sideline to sideline. Look at all those cats that Alabama is running around with. Saban turns down 10 five-stars a year because he knows they’re not good enough.”

So many of USC’s recruiting problems over the past four or five years have been self-inflicted: laziness, poor evaluation, lack of development and investment. At one point two years ago, one USC assistant coach sat in his office and casually joked that their school-issued cell phone might be tapped by authorities. That likely isn’t true, but at the time, the Trojans’ athletic department should have been on edge. It was months removed from the Varsity Blues admissions scandal and, a year and a half earlier, it was caught in the middle of the FBI’s probe into college basketball recruiting.

USC had to be clean in a recruiting environment that is far from it.

“There’s probably 20 kids a year, maybe 30 that are getting paid big money to play college football,” the former assistant said. “The vast majority of them are quarterbacks and D-linemen. We had multiple staff meetings where Clay said, ‘If you get caught cheating, you are being fired.’ His thing was, ‘If they fire me, it’s gonna be for losing. Not cheating.’

“USC was coming off the scandal, and he’d been part of that staff coming back. We couldn’t play the game the way the game is played at that level. Now with NIL, you can do it, which is why they created the BLVD (USC’s in-house partnership with J1S, which focuses on helping student-athletes maximize their market value). That is gonna be huge for them.”

Of course, as all of these recruiting dynamics were slowly unraveling, the Trojans’ on-field performance started to dip. USC went 13-12 over the 2018 and 2019 season and hasn’t won the Pac-12 since 2017. To make up for its subpar on-field performance, the program has to sell its natural advantages like proximity to Hollywood and setting of Los Angeles on social media.

“(SC) is selling the sizzle, not the steak,” one of the high school coaches said. “It’s like, well, I want the meat and potatoes. I want to know exactly how we’re going to find a way to not lose to Stanford by 21 points.”

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Losing skilled recruiters like Ed Orgeron affected USC’s ability to run off its brand and maintain its spot among top recruiting programs. (Jeff Gross / Getty)

One of the high school coaches stood on the sidelines of Howard Jones Field and simply observed a couple of years ago. He had visited plenty of practices conducted by elite programs in the past, so this wasn’t foreign to him.

He’d seen enough to know he didn’t like what he heard.

“Right after their stretching lines, when they were getting ready to go practice, their coaches were all screaming, ‘Everybody wants to be us,’” this coach said. “It’s like, ‘Dude, there’s nobody who wants to be you guys.’ They’re living kind of off that old SC heritage.”
It’s also something that other Pac-12 coaches had taken note of as well, seeing an undisciplined team built on false bravado. “You watch how they behave out there on the field,” said one Pac-12 South coach. “We’ve heard about the bad locker room and that they’re allowed to do whatever they want, acting like jackasses on the field.”

Other Pac-12 coaches point to USC chasing recruiting stars and recruiting the kids who are, according to a high school coach, “not winners,” as well as opting for a style of play that was far removed from what had been in USC’s DNA, a program which used to pride itself on physical football.

“They’ve lost it in the trenches,” said one Pac-12 North coach. “If you want to win championships, you’ve gotta be able to run the football and be physical up front. And they can’t, and they’re not. Part of that was going to the Air Raid, because if you’re going to that, you gotta buy into that mentality and be all in. Well, it might look good and you might have good stats, but that changes the mentality of your team. USC turned soft. It just is what it is.”

USC’s brand still has some pull. But the next coach will have to restore the aura and it’s going to require some patience.
“They got left so far behind the rest of the country that everyone started seeing that the brand was wearing down,” one of the former recruiting staffers said.

The 2019 recruiting class has some true gems, such as Drake Jackson and Drake London, the two best players on the 2021 team. Chris Steele has turned into an All-Pac-12 player and Kedon Slovis has been better than anyone expected. But the previous staff acted out of desperation late in that recruiting cycle and looked to add bodies, so the class was filled with several players who appear to have no reasonable path toward contributing on the field in the future. The new coach will inherit a lot of those players.
The 2020 class was built during the peak of Helton hot-seat talk and has some nice pieces that have developed well, but that class is more notable for the players the Trojans missed on — nearly all of California’s top prospects, like Young and five-star linebacker Justin Flowe — than those it did. USC didn’t sign a quarterback, linebacker or a single defensive back.

The 2021 class was much improved, thanks to a recruiting infrastructure that was beefed up after USC’s administration devoted more resources to it. And it hired assistant coaches who were better recruiters, like Donte Williams and Craig Naivar, who did a great job recruiting the secondary and rebuilding its talent. And that class has Foreman, and Jaxson Dart, who displayed his potential this past weekend.

That class is the foundation of USC’s future. As for the Class of 2022: The Trojans have a commitment from the state’s top-rated player, Domani Jackson, five-star defensive lineman Mykel Williams and four-star quarterback Devin Brown. But the offensive staff struggled to land verbal commitments from talented in-state skill players like Raleek Brown (Oklahoma), Tetairoa McMillan (Oregon) and C.J. Williams (Notre Dame).

And with Helton’s firing, this will be a transition class.

That’s three out of the past four recruiting classes that will likely be below the normal USC standard. A new coach will help, and the transfer portal could fill some gaps, but as of now the Trojans’ 2022 squad has the potential to be their least talented team in a long time. While the roster may be fine in comparison to most of the Pac-12, it won’t stack up well with Oregon, which keeps building its depth and adding high-quality players in impressive fashion.

“Mario (Cristobal) is now that guy in the Pac-12,” one of the former assistants said. “He’s recruiting at Oregon the way they recruit at Alabama. The Oregons of the world start beating SC in recruiting. Really, after Ed left (in 2014), in comes the SEC and they’ve infiltrated, so now you’ve got Alabama, LSU and Georgia. It was, ‘Go in and get what you want.’ USC lost its presence. No one was protecting the land.”

So yes, a new coach will take over a USC program with national and Pac-12 championship expectations. But USC’s new coach will not be walking into a “normal” USC situation, where the roster is stocked with more talent than everyone else on the West Coast, like Kiffin and Helton inherited.

“USC the brand has been hurt so bad. Whoever they get, it needs to be a name — oh damn, that’s the USC coach now?” one of the former assistants said. “Getting offered by USC used to be a big deal. Guys would cry on the phone when I told them they had a USC offer, but that doesn’t happen anymore. I think James Franklin’s name was huge. He took back a state when he got rolling at Penn State. He’s got the No. 1 class in recruiting. He’s been in the SEC. He’d be a minority hire. That would be beneficial.
“They’re gonna need something different that people want to see that guy win. Like, we’re rooting for that dude that just got the SC job.”
I'm getting too old to lose sleep over much of anything anymore sports related, I hope JF stays, but if he goes he goes, honestly think he would kill it at SC..
 

fairfaxlion2

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Unless he's a cunning sell-out, this is exactly why I always thought there's no chance of him going. He preaches family and togetherness and academics. I just don't see those things being synonymous with USC. USC is a big business, and when I think of a big business, I think cold, calculated and bottom-dollar. USC is Dunder Mifflin, PSU is Prince Family Paper (https://theoffice.fandom.com/wiki/Prince_Family_Paper)
There’s nothing wrong with the academics at usc
 
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Big 0

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Another thing to factor into Franklin’s decision if he decides to leave is the anti-PSU bias and favoritism toward certain teams in the B10. Year after year of butting up against these things can wear on you.

If it wasn’t for some of these things replay review for “errant” calls would have not been instituted in the B10 and rules would not have been changed at the end of the season to allow O$U into the playoffs. When rules are changed to help out one school after everyone else agreed to follow them means there are no rules. This is what a corrupt organization does.
 
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fairfaxlion2

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Another thing to factor into Franklin’s decision if he decides to leave is the anti-PSU bias and favoritism toward certain teams in the B10. Year after year of butting up against these things can wear on you.

If it wasn’t for some of these things replay review for “errant” calls would have not been instituted in the B10 and rules would not have been changed at the end of the season to allow O$U into the playoffs. When rules are changed to help out one school after everyone else agreed to follow them means there are no rules. This is what a corrupt organization does.
If he leaves the main factors will be money and whether he still wants to live here. He can obviously win at either place
 

nittanyfan333

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There’s nothing wrong with the academics at usc

You’re absolutely right. Great school academically. I should have said I don’t see those things being synonymous with USC FOOTBALL. USC football, to me, is one of those schools where you don’t to USC to play school.

As opposed to PSU, which JVP started the grand experiment and JVP continued with the “degree in 3” mentality.
 

fairfaxlion2

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You’re absolutely right. Great school academically. I should have said I don’t see those things being synonymous with USC FOOTBALL. USC football, to me, is one of those schools where you don’t to USC to play school.

As opposed to PSU, which JVP started the grand experiment and JVP continued with the “degree in 3” mentality.
Joe was big on that for years, but it was different at the end.
 

PSUFBFAN

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If he leaves the main factors will be money and whether he still wants to live here. He can obviously win at either place
You haven't been paying attention to James Franklin if you think the "main factor" will be money.

CJF's number one priority in his life is the happiness and well being of his family. His career is obviously very important, but he isn't going to put his career goals (becoming the first AA coach to win a National Championship) over the well being of his family.

So, any decision regarding a move to USC will be determined by whether or not his wife and daughters would prefer the lifestyle of southern California or the the lifestyle of rural central PA. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and we can argue all day for or against either place.

If the family wants to move to SoCA for the lifestyle change, then he's gone. All of the other details involving money, buyouts, staff, facilities, recruiting budgets, etc. will be worked out without too many problems if CJF and his family want to make the move. It's probably a pretty good assumption that CJF and Fumi know right now whether or not they want to move or stay in State College.

From a purely football perspective, I agree it would probably be a bit easier to reach the CFP at USC than PSU - if things remain as they are now. But, the college football world is always changing. When (not if) they expand the playoffs, the chances of making the playoffs at both PSU and USC are probably about the same - pretty good. Other things will change - who knows where OSU will be in 2 or 3 years if Ryan Day leaves for the NFL. Perhaps Oregon becomes the Alabama of the Pac12. Who knows?

People can speculate all day long, but nobody on this board knows whether or not Fumi loves/hates/tolerates State College. It is pretty clear that she is a very private person and really avoids the limelight in and around State College. Would a person like that enjoy all the publicity that comes with being the coaches' wife of USC in LA? We don't know.

I expect the girls have reached that age in life where their friends and school activities are very important to them and just like all kids at that age, they would probably respond "no" if dad comes home one day and says "hey, do you want to move to (wherever)?" Furthermore, the girls are very tied in to the PSU football program - they go to practices, know the players, have an entire wardrobe dedicated to the blue and white. Their formative years have been all PSU, all the time. I am sure they are emotionally locked in to Penn State and would not be eager to move (although mom and dad will make the final decision).

I just don't see CJF uprooting his family to chase his career if his wife and kids want to stay in State College. My opinion is that he is staying at PSU. He is very close to building a legit CFP contender with this program within the next 2 - 3 years (including this year). He has the staff in place that he feels good about, a great incoming recruiting class, and most likely the best QB he has ever recruited. He is "this close" to hitting paydirt at PSU.

One final reason why I think he is staying - if CJF and family wanted to leave State College, he would have left for FSU or USC over the past couple of years. I am sure he could have had the FSU job if he wanted it - do you really think FSU would have preferred Mike Norvell to CJF if they had to chose between the two? No way. As far as USC is concerned, their number one choice was Urban Meyer and when he turned them down, I think they would have taken CJF if Franklin wanted the job. Since neither Urban or Franklin took the job, they held on to Helton for another year or two until they pulled the trigger on him. Which means, they probably have a pretty strong indication on who their next coach is going to be - I don't think it will be Franklin.
 

fairfaxlion2

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You haven't been paying attention to James Franklin if you think the "main factor" will be money.

CJF's number one priority in his life is the happiness and well being of his family. His career is obviously very important, but he isn't going to put his career goals (becoming the first AA coach to win a National Championship) over the well being of his family.

So, any decision regarding a move to USC will be determined by whether or not his wife and daughters would prefer the lifestyle of southern California or the the lifestyle of rural central PA. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and we can argue all day for or against either place.

If the family wants to move to SoCA for the lifestyle change, then he's gone. All of the other details involving money, buyouts, staff, facilities, recruiting budgets, etc. will be worked out without too many problems if CJF and his family want to make the move. It's probably a pretty good assumption that CJF and Fumi know right now whether or not they want to move or stay in State College.

From a purely football perspective, I agree it would probably be a bit easier to reach the CFP at USC than PSU - if things remain as they are now. But, the college football world is always changing. When (not if) they expand the playoffs, the chances of making the playoffs at both PSU and USC are probably about the same - pretty good. Other things will change - who knows where OSU will be in 2 or 3 years if Ryan Day leaves for the NFL. Perhaps Oregon becomes the Alabama of the Pac12. Who knows?

People can speculate all day long, but nobody on this board knows whether or not Fumi loves/hates/tolerates State College. It is pretty clear that she is a very private person and really avoids the limelight in and around State College. Would a person like that enjoy all the publicity that comes with being the coaches' wife of USC in LA? We don't know.

I expect the girls have reached that age in life where their friends and school activities are very important to them and just like all kids at that age, they would probably respond "no" if dad comes home one day and says "hey, do you want to move to (wherever)?" Furthermore, the girls are very tied in to the PSU football program - they go to practices, know the players, have an entire wardrobe dedicated to the blue and white. Their formative years have been all PSU, all the time. I am sure they are emotionally locked in to Penn State and would not be eager to move (although mom and dad will make the final decision).

I just don't see CJF uprooting his family to chase his career if his wife and kids want to stay in State College. My opinion is that he is staying at PSU. He is very close to building a legit CFP contender with this program within the next 2 - 3 years (including this year). He has the staff in place that he feels good about, a great incoming recruiting class, and most likely the best QB he has ever recruited. He is "this close" to hitting paydirt at PSU.

One final reason why I think he is staying - if CJF and family wanted to leave State College, he would have left for FSU or USC over the past couple of years. I am sure he could have had the FSU job if he wanted it - do you really think FSU would have preferred Mike Norvell to CJF if they had to chose between the two? No way. As far as USC is concerned, their number one choice was Urban Meyer and when he turned them down, I think they would have taken CJF if Franklin wanted the job. Since neither Urban or Franklin took the job, they held on to Helton for another year or two until they pulled the trigger on him. Which means, they probably have a pretty strong indication on who their next coach is going to be - I don't think it will be Franklin.
I think I mentioned that location would be a factor. Which obviously it is. Didn’t expect a dissertation in response
 

Nitt1300

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The idea that State College is either "better" or "worse" than LA is kind of silly- the answer is entirely a personal preference- and nobody here knows what CJF thinks about it.
 
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JayWye

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USC's current problem is not that they're failing to recruit nationally; it's that they're failing to recruit locally. Los Angeles County and Orange County have a combined population larger than Pennsylvania and are both football talent hotspots. Add the population of San Diego County (Reggie Bush's home) and those three counties have more people than every other state in the Union except New York, Texas, and Florida. Two local high schools alone (Long Beach Poly in LA County and Mater Dei in Orange County) have between them dozens of alumni who have played in the NFL over the years. Right now schools like Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma, and others are getting the kids who would have committed to USC before Helton. Oklahoma's only 5* 2022 commit is from Mater Dei. Alabama's Bryce Young is also a Mater Dei grad. Oregon's 2022 class has three 4* commits from Orange and San Diego counties. If the next coach can keep local talent home, SC will return to having consistently top 20 recruiting classes and will be competing for Pac 12 titles every year; he won't have to recruit kids from Texas or Florida or anywhere else if he doesn't want to spend resources outside the region.
Fair enough, but facts are facts. Only one HC has succeeded at USC in over forty years, and he left the school with recruiting sanctions. Mater Dei notwithstanding. Per the US census, 25% of Southern California residents are foreign born...and they are overwhelmingly Hispanic with some Asians thrown in...nether group is known for producing football players. Pro sports have pretty much eclipsed the college variety in LA since the days of McKay and Robinson. But, hey, don't let any of this get in the way of your narrative...
 

Midnighter2

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Fair enough, but facts are facts. Only one HC has succeeded at USC in over forty years, and he left the school with recruiting sanctions. Mater Dei notwithstanding. Per the US census, 25% of Southern California residents are foreign born...and they are overwhelmingly Hispanic with some Asians thrown in...nether group is known for producing football players. Pro sports have pretty much eclipsed the college variety in LA since the days of McKay and Robinson. But, hey, don't let any of this get in the way of your narrative...

Please stop with the foreign born/Hispanic nonsense. Just look at the Rivals 100 list and see how many are within 150-200 miles of USC’s campus. It’s a good percentage - and more than probably any big time program in the country save the Florida and Texas schools (but, SC doesn’t have an in state rival to compete with them for).