Featured in this article:
  • Will Urban Meyer become the next USC coach?
  • Helton on the outs after 42–28 home-game loss

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Southern California head coach Clay Helton watches warm ups. (Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez)

One of the marquee college football coaching positions in the country is open at USC.

What are the Top 5 marquee head coaching jobs in college football? That could be a fun bar argument, but for sure one of those five and the only one out West is USC with deep-pocketed boosters, stellar tradition, and maybe the most fertile recruiting ground in the country (the Miami area is right there in that regard).

Trojans coach Clay Helton entered the 2021 season on a major hot seat and him being fired wouldn’t have qualified as a surprise. Is Helton being fired after Week 2? It was fairly shocking that the school pulled the plug following an embarrassing 42-28 home loss to a down Stanford program that was an 18-point underdog.

Let’s not feel too bad for Helton, who gets around a $12 million buyout. Associate head coach Donte Williams will serve as interim head coach the rest of the season but isn’t considered a realistic full-time possibility.

Meyer’s Odds Rise After Denial

Oddsmakers originally had former Florida and Ohio State coach and current Jacksonville Jaguars boss Urban Meyer among the favorites to be the next full-time USC coach because he was linked to the job as recently as last year when he was working for Fox in Los Angeles. However, Meyer is now a +1600 longer shot after saying this week there was “no chance” he would leave the Jaguars. College jobs are much harder with recruiting, etc., and Meyer has had health problems in the past.

Another high-profile coach who has long been linked to the job is Penn State’s James Franklin who is now the +350 NCAAF betting favorite. His buyout is about $4 million, which isn’t an issue for USC. NBC Sports Radio host Dan Patrick has reported there is mutual interest between the sides. Penn State is a great job, but it’s not USC.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy is +600 with University of Minnesota coach PJ Fleck +650, Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell at +750, Iowa State’s Matt Campbell at +850, and former Penn State/Houston Texans coach and current Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien at +900.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter has reported that Bieniemy is a strong candidate, as he’s from southern California. However, Bieniemy has never been a head coach and likely will get a shot at a top job in the NFL as early as next season – he interviewed for a few openings this past season.

Fickell was hired at Cincinnati by then-athletic director Mike Bohn, who so happens to now hold the same role at USC. Fickell has always been a Midwest guy, though, as has Campbell. Fleck is one of the most charismatic coaches in college football, and charisma always sells in LA.

It’s now a rite of passage that an Alabama offensive coordinator gets a head coaching job, so expect O’Brien to spend just one season in Tuscaloosa whether he leaves for USC or back to the NFL.

If USC doesn’t want to pay any money in a buyout, former very successful and “retired” college coaches like Chris Petersen (+1000) – whom USC tried to hire in 2013 – and Bob Stoops (+1200) are out there.

James Guill

James Guill is a former professional poker player who writes fro GambleOnline.co about poker, sports, casinos, gaming legislation and the online gambling industry in general. His past experience includes working with IveyPoker, PokerNews, PokerJunkie, Bwin, and the Ongame Network. From 2006-2009 he participated in multiple tournaments including the 37th and 38th World Series of Poker (WSOP). James lives in Virgina and he has a side business where he picks and sells vintage and antique items.

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