Earlier today, Mike Bohn was officially introduced as the new athletics director at USC. Among the top issues for Bohn to address when meeting with the media was the job security of head football coach Clay Helton. Not too surprisingly, Bohn was not particularly interested in suggesting he is ready to name a replacement to lead the Trojans on the football field.
“We all understand the importance of football; it’s very similar to every institution that I’ve been a part of,” Bohn said when speaking to the media at an introductory press conference on Thursday, according to Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com. “It’d be premature to be talking about coaches or any situation when I just arrived and am in the process of learning and trying to listen. But I have a good sense of really quickly being able to connect and find out how we’re doing and where we’re going, and I want to impact recruiting.”
This comment is not exactly a strong show of support for Helton, but it is not a statement of incoming doom for Helton either. Realistically, this is the safest of answers the new AD could possibly give as he is not drawing any line and leaving time to evaluate the situation deeper. There is still a month of football to play, and USC could still end the season on a strong note that could suggest Helton is worthy of retaining the job. The popular opinion seems to be that USC should move on from Helton as the Trojans have regressed in a number of ways since winning the Rose Bowl three seasons ago. USC won the Pac-12 championship two years ago but lost to Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl (the Rose Bowl was used as a College Football Playoff semifinal, so the Pac-12 and Big Ten champions were transplanted to the Cotton Bowl).
Last season, the downward trend continued with no bowl appearance nat all. USC needs one more win in their final three games to clinch bowl eligibility this season with road games against Arizona State and Cal in the next two weeks. USC hosts UCLA in the regular-season finale and the Trojans lost to Chip Kelly and the Bruins last season. Failing to go bowling would likely lead to a guaranteed coaching change with the Trojans.
So Bohn has some time before any decision really needs to be made on the future of the head coaching position at USC.
Very late in the churning of the 2019-20 coaching carousel, Nick Saban could find himself with a significant opening on his Alabama Crimson Tide football coaching staff. Maybe.
When Mel Tucker left for the Michigan State head job earlier this month, it triggered an unexpected coaching search at Colorado. Current Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator and former Colorado running back Eric Bieniemy was immediately considered the front-runner, although it’s now expected that he’ll stay in the NFL. Air Force’s Troy Calhoun has now taken that front-runner mantle in some corners — he interviewed for the CU job this week — while former Arkansas and Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is in the mix as well.
Steve Sarkisian‘s name has been connected to the Colorado opening as well. It was reported by CBS Sports that the Alabama Crimson Tide football assistant interviewed for the job Wednesday, with ESPN.com confirming that development Thursday morning.
Sarkisian, of course, has experience as a head coach in the Pac-12. His unceremonious exit from his last job in the conference, though, could make him a hard sell to the Buff faithful.
In mid-October of 2015, USC announced that Sarkisian had been dismissed as the Trojans’ head football coach, one day after he was given an indefinite leave of absence because of alleged and ongoing alcohol issues. It was alleged that USC had instituted a zero-tolerance policy when it came to Sarkisian and alcohol use. Leading up to his dismissal, Sarkisian allegedly showed up to meetings intoxicated.
From 2009-15, Sarkisian was a head coach in the Pac-12 — at Washington (2009-13) and USC (2014-15). He went 46-35 during his time in that league. He also spent two separate stints totaling seven seasons (2001-03, 2005-08) as an assistant at USC.
Following his ugly exit from USC, Sarkisian joined the Alabama Crimson Tide football program as an offensive analyst for the 2016 season. When Lane Kiffin took the head job at FAU prior to the national championship game that year, Sarkisian served as the play-caller in the loss to Clemson.
Expected to take over as the Crimson Tide’s coordinator, and after reports that his relationship with Saban had deteriorated surfaced, Sarkisian instead left a month after the title game for a job in the NFL as the coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. Sarkisian lasted two years in that job before he was fired in December of 2018.
A month later, he rejoined the Tide as offensive coordinator.
Florida State football has seen its roster pared as we dive deeper into the offseason.
Wednesday, 247Sports.com reported that A.J. Lytton is no longer consider a member of the Seminoles program. A Florida State football official confirmed that the defensive back “has been removed from the team.”
No specific reason, including whether it was voluntary or involuntary, was given for Lytton’s removal.
A four-star 2018 signee, Lytton was rated as the No. 3 recruit regardless of position in the state of Maryland. He was also the No. 7 cornerback in the country. Only one signee in FSU’s class that year, fellow defensive back Jaiden Woodbey, was rated higher than Lytton.
Over two seasons, Lytton played in a total of 22 games. A dozen of those appearances came during the 2019 campaign. He started one of those appearances, with that lone start coming this past season.
With two-year starter Stanford Samuels III leaving the Seminoles early for the NFL, Lytton had been expected to compete for a starting corner job.
Lytton’s departure continues the expected Florida State football roster churn since Willie Taggart‘s firing and Mike Norvell‘s hiring. Norvell will be taking over a program that has gone 11-14 the past two seasons. That two-year stretch is the worst for the school since they went 8-14 in 1975-76.
As Michigan State football continues to brace itself for potential NCAA sanctions, its new head coach continues to build his first coaching staff.
Wednesday, Mel Tucker announced that Courtney Hawkins has been hired as his wide receivers coach. The move to add Hawkins will certainly be a popular one for the fan base as the newest assistant played his college football at MSU.
From 1988-91, Hawkins was a wide receiver for the Spartans. Twice, he earned first-team All-Big Ten honors during his time in East Lansing.
“Courtney Hawkins was a phenomenal player here at Michigan State who went on to have a very successful career in the NFL,” the new Michigan State football head coach said in a statement. “He’s shown tremendous leadership serving as both the athletic director and head football coach at Flint Beecher High School. I’m really excited to get him here on campus.”
Since 2006, Hawkins served as the head football coach and athletic director at his alma mater, Beecher High School, in Flint, Michigan. That tenure followed a nine-year career as a wide receiver in the NFL.
This will, incidentally, serve as Hawkins’ first job of any kind at the collegiate level.
The hiring of Hawkins is the fourth officially announced by the Michigan State football program.
This past weekend, it was confirmed that Ron Burton and Mike Tressel would be retained. Shortly thereafter, Chris Kapilovic officially followed Tucker to MSU from Colorado.
Kapilovic will serve as offensive line coach and running-game coordinator for Tucker. Burton is expected to continue on as defensive line coach. Tressel has spent the past 13 seasons with Michigan State football as assistant head coach, defensive coordinator and linebackers coach.
If you had Ole Miss football as next up for an early-morning portal post, collect your winnings at the door.
Wednesday, it was reported by multiple media outlets that Deantre Prince has decided to enter his name into the NCAA transfer database. By entering the portal, Prince can be contacted by any other school without receiving permission from Ole Miss football. He can also pull his name from the database and remain with the Rebels.
Conversely, the defensive back could have his scholarship pulled at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.
Prince’s decision, incidentally, comes two months after Lane Kiffin took over as the head coach of Ole Miss football.
A three-star 2019 signee, Prince was rated as the No. 18 player regardless of position in the state of Mississippi. As a true freshman, Prince played in all 12 games for the Rebels.
With two interceptions, Prince tied for the team lead in 2019. He as also credited with 25 tackles and two pass breakups.
Barring something unexpected, Prince would have to sit out the 2020 season in order to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws. Unless those NCAA bylaws are changed and he’s grandfathered in, of course.