So much for those second thoughts. And let the Urban speculation, as farfetched as it may be, commence in earnest.
Late last week, reports surfaced connecting Cincinnati’s Mike Bohn to USC’s vacant athletic director post. Early Thursday afternoon, the university turned the rumors into reality by confirming Bohn will head its athletic department moving forward.
Bohn, the first USC AD with no ties to the university in more than a quarter-century, replaces Lynn Swann, who “resigned” his post in early September after three years on the job.
Bohn, who played college football and baseball at Kansas, has spent the past six years at Cincinnati, taking over Bearcats athletics in February of 2014. Prior to that, he served as the athletic director at Colorado (2005-13), San Diego State (2003-05) and Idaho (1998-2003).
The 58-year-old Illinois native (he’ll turn 59 later this month) was the Buffaloes AD as CU made the transition from the Big 12 to the Pac-12 in 2011. He involuntarily stepped down from that post in May of 2013, months after the second of his signature hires at the school, Jon Embree, was fired after just two seasons and four wins (versus 21 losses) as head football coach. The first, Dan Hawkins, posted a 19-39 record in less than five full seasons in Boulder before his firing opened the door for Bohn’s hiring of Embree.
First and foremost on Bohn’s to-do list at his newest job in the conference? Determine the fate of head football coach Clay Helton.
Coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons his first two full years with the Trojans, a 5-7 record in 2018 put Helton squarely on the hot seat entering 2019. After a 3-1 start to this current campaign, USC, which has dealt with myriad injuries to key players throughout the year, proceeded to lose three of its next five, although all three of those setbacks came against ranked opponents. Two of those defeats came on the road, but the home loss was a 32-point drubbing at the hands of Oregon last Saturday that had the calls for Helton’s scalp growing in intensity.
If Bohn and other university officials determine it’s time to move on from Helton at season’s end, the question quickly becomes, can they pull Urban Meyer out of retirement? Or, do they even want to pursue Meyer in the event of a coaching change?
The ties between Meyer and Bohn are scant. Bohn comes from Cincinnati while Meyer played his college football for the Bearcats (one year as a defensive back in 1984) and graduated from the university in 1986. Meyer’s youngest child, Nate, is also a scholarship baseball player for the Bearcats.
Bohn also hired Luke Fickell off Meyer’s Ohio State coaching staff in December of 2016. Following a 4-8 first year at the school, Fickell went 11-2, tying a school record for wins, and was named as the AAC’s Coach of the Year for the 2018 season. He has the Bearcats sitting at 7-1 this season and armed with a No. 20 ranking in the initial College Football Playoff Top 25 heading into the homestretch of the regular season.