Thank Goodness for Graham Harrell

Thankfully, Mike Bohn signed USC OC Graham Harrell to a big multiyear extension back in December…

Ryan Kartje (LA Times, Dec. 16, 2019)  —

The coveted coordinator responsible for transforming the USC offense in his debut season will remain a fixture with the Trojans for the foreseeable future.

Graham Harrell signed a multi-year contract extension to stay at USC, the school announced Monday, ending a week of uneasy speculation over whether the rising star coordinator might leave L.A. for Texas, where he’d interviewed for the same position.

“Excited to be a part of this great university and part of the Trojan family,” Harrell said in a video posted on Twitter. “It’s a really special place. We’ve built something really special here.”

After making the controversial call to retain head coach Clay Helton earlier this month, USC moved swiftly to secure its offensive coordinator, offering Harrell a lucrative multi-year extension worth more than $1 million per year.

The offer, which The Times first reported Dec. 6, came soon after Harrell emerged as one of the most desired assistants on college football’s coaching carousel. A Texas native, Harrell interviewed for the Longhorns’ vacant coordinator position and was briefly discussed as a possible head coaching candidate at Nevada Las Vegas and Texas San Antonio.

But with Texas and its deep-pocketed program looming, USC made an offer convincing enough to keep Harrell at the helm of an offense that could be among the nation’s most talented next season. The school did not announce the official terms of his new deal, but the extension presumably places him among the highest-paid coordinators in the nation, not long after new athletic director Mike Bohn promised “a redoubled commitment” of resources for the football program, following the decision to keep Helton.

According to a 2019 USA Today database of assistant coach salaries, only one Pac-12 coordinator, Washington’s Jimmy Lake, reportedly made more than $1 million in 2019. Lake has since been promoted to replace Chris Petersen as the Huskies’ head coach.

By comparison, 12 SEC assistants boasted seven-figure salaries a season ago.

For USC, which is still mulling the future of several other assistants ahead of next week’s Holiday Bowl, it was a price tag worth paying after watching Harrell turn a stale USC offense into one of the nation’s most explosive aerial attacks.

Harrell was first hired last January at a moment of desperation, after Kliff Kingsbury, another disciple of Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, spurned the Trojans after just one month to be head coach of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. Harrell stepped into his place soon after, following three successful seasons at North Texas, and his hiring would pay huge dividends for a program desperate for progress on that side of the ball.

That progress was evident through just one season, as Harrell oversaw the transformation of one of the Pac-12’s most paltry offenses into a high-flying Air Raid attack that ranked among the most explosive in college football. The Trojans improved from 91st to 36th in scoring offense and from 84th to 18th in total offense.

In spite of losing its starting quarterback, JT Daniels, in the season opener, USC’s passing attack was nothing short of prolific in 2019, ranking fifth in the nation in passing yards, largely thanks to the unexpected rise of freshman Kedon Slovis. Slovis, who arrived at USC as an overlooked three-star recruit, emerged as one of the best young passers in college football under Harrell’s tutelage. As a freshman, he threw for 3,242 yards and 28 touchdowns, on his way to being named Pac-12 offensive freshman of the year.

His father, Max Slovis, told The Times two weeks ago that Harrell was one of “the single most influential people in Kedon’s growth.”

With Slovis set to return, along with most of USC’s playmakers, Harrell may have one of the nation’s most talented offenses at his disposal next season. That potential, for a rising star coordinator, was reason enough to return.

“Moving forward, we’ve laid the foundation to compete for championships, not only at the Pac-12 level, but at the national level,” Harrell said. “We’re excited to be here. Can’t wait to continue what we’ve started.”

latimes.com

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ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.(@atl-d-d-s)
August 22, 2020 7:18 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Was that the result for Aunt Becky? 2 months prison? And her daughters seem pretty ungrateful for the USC opportunity. Sad tale.

Jamaica
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Jamaica(@jamaica)
August 20, 2020 6:00 pm

Oncoming football season is turning into a huge can of worms. No decision on playing/not playing this fall or even in the spring is getting a lot of support. In the meantime, we have players opting out whose team season has been cancelled. Along with that there are parents demanding the reasons why and players even talking about legal actions taken. You have coaches from other teams still scheduled to play wanting player transfers and public outcry administrations are trying to kill the sport using COVID-19 as an excuse. On the other side, the NCAA health officials inside & outside… Read more »

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.(@atl-d-d-s)
August 21, 2020 8:52 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Too bad someone doesn’t try a proven therapy like preventative doses of a safe, cheap pharmaceutical (HYdroxychloriquin) on all of the football team’s players. Show me that it doesn’t result in greatly reduced numbers of Wuhan Virus positive tests—IF NOT ZERO positive cases. I would bet my Georgia Dental License on this. But, sadly, this would involve out-of-the-box, common sense thinking instead of following the crowd.
Common Sense is largely extinct, especially among blue state governors and college presidents.

Last edited 1 year ago by ATL D.D.S.
HOF19
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HOF19(@hof19)
August 20, 2020 10:37 am

 Per Yahoo Sports Merton Hanks is the new Pac-12 Senior Associate Commissioner for Football Operations .

HOF19
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HOF19(@hof19)
August 20, 2020 10:37 am
Reply to  HOF19

If that changes anything we will see !

Steveg
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Steveg(@steveg)
August 21, 2020 9:52 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

What is a shame is Kiffen even bringing this up. Obviously his motive is to cherry pick from the conferences that will not be playing this fall. I do not think the SEC and ACC will have a successful season, something will happen and games will get cancelled and here they sit.

gametv
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gametv(@gametv)
August 19, 2020 8:07 am

I think that this article misses the broader point about Graham Harrell and the air raid offense It wont win national championships. The article talks about the explosive air raid offense and how well USC ranked. OK. Mike Leach’s WSU offenses rank higher than USC in total offense (#6) in the nation. So when measured against a team (WSU) with inferior talent that runs the same offense, they didnt measure up. But the problem with the air raid is that it doesnt win the big games because it doesnt control the line of scrimmage, cant score in the red zone… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
August 19, 2020 8:38 am
Reply to  gametv

gametv, It is impossible to answer your point. It may well be with an elite coach, the air raid can win the national championship. Say, someone like a Pete Carroll. Unfortunately, at present, SC has, in best case scenario, no HC (a cheerleader to quote Allen) or, if he has anything to do with the football end of business, an incompetent one. You correctly (yesterday I think) correctly noted that the problem with retaining an incompetent HC (which Clay is) is a young OC like GH (who is really good and has great potential) must develop himself. Experience in coaching… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
August 19, 2020 8:59 am
Reply to  gametv

gametv, Below is a theoretical response to your post. This will be a concrete response. 2020 is in the books. SC is not playing. So, look at the 2021 team. Right now SC has four RBs; Stepp, Carr, Malepie (spelling?), and Christon. In 2021, it should have one: Christon (who is ideal for the air raid). Stepp will be eligible for the NFL this spring and would be crazy to return; Carr and Male (unless they want an advanced degree or a job in coaching) should also be moving on to the NFL (or some other pro league). Given the… Read more »

Jamaica
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Jamaica(@jamaica)
August 19, 2020 10:05 am
Reply to  gametv

Right on gametv. Bringing GH in with his Air Raid offense realistically is a quick fix move that will eventually put the football program into a bind with its recruiting. Look at the better recruits who have come here since GH arrived? WRs & QBs mostly. Few RBs, poor OLs and then you have the defense take the brunt of having to play more minutes in the game which will affect its recruiting. After 3-4 years of this, you have a roster that can play only one way well. Then when a new offensive scheme is brought in, it will… Read more »

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.(@atl-d-d-s)
August 19, 2020 6:27 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I am relieved that Chip is recovering. I am also happy that he was on the right side of the law. The local paper did not make it clear if Chip was part of the house robbing crew of thugs! Fight On Chip! Thoughts and prayers for a complete recovery!

Jamaica
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Jamaica(@jamaica)
August 19, 2020 10:08 am
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

Same here…. glad Chip is going to recover positively.

Jamaica
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Jamaica(@jamaica)
August 18, 2020 7:27 pm

I respect this website and part of it is due to being able to responds to postings. ESPN has chickened out eliminating responses to their writer/reporter articles. Maybe it was because they were laughed at with a lot of their writings? You wind up losing respect for those who care not to take in others views and there is a lot of that going on today in this Country. Where would this football program be if Harrell hadn’t been brought in… That much is obvious. But to say he will be the savior of it is a little pre-mature in… Read more »

Terrific Tommy
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Terrific Tommy(@terrific-tommy)
August 18, 2020 8:30 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

You covered it all — leaving me very little to say/post. Thanks so much! 😊

But that being said, if Harrell would just state that he wants our running game to return to what we were used too in our past, I’d be patient and satisfied for awhile. 👍

gametv
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gametv(@gametv)
August 19, 2020 8:19 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I disagree with this statement. Markese Stepp is an incredible talent, but he needs a decent o-line. No running back can run without blocking.

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.(@atl-d-d-s)
August 19, 2020 6:31 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I know folt is satisfied with sports mediocrity–especially if the Ivy League/Vanderbilt are the models for college sports in her mind. Please God, make her move on!

rleeholder1
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rleeholder1(@rleeholder1)
August 20, 2020 6:40 am
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

The sooner Folt moves on, the better for USC. The removal of the John Wayne memorial/exhibit was the last straw for me. She’s tearing down the traditions of USC which us alums hold close to our hearts. Caruso needs to be replaced as well.

gametv
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gametv(@gametv)
August 19, 2020 8:16 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Regarding the offensive line, I am not an expert here, so please explain something to me. In interviews, Tim Drevno has talked about the fact that he has essentially 4 offensive plays to teach his players, so he has more time to focus on technique. Well, when he states this, he doesnt sell the idea that he likes it at all. So my question is – does running only 4 primary plays for the offensive line really work? and is this one of the reasons that USC cant get the top talent on the o-line anymore? is this the reason… Read more »

gametv
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gametv(@gametv)
August 19, 2020 12:43 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

i would be quite content with an offense similar to LSU with Joe Burrow. that was still a very pass-centric offense, using spread formations and alot of receivers and tempo. all similar to the air raid. but they still had the ability to run the ball when required and have not given up on dominating the line of scrimmage. LSU has to play top teams in the SEC all year long. USC’s offense would get crushed if it had to play Alabama, Georgia, Texas, etc. But if we are going to compare SC’s total offensive output, I want to compare… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
August 18, 2020 10:53 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Interesting thought. As 2020 is not being played, it is the perfect time to transfer to other programs. You will not play in the Pac, so why not transfer to a program that has a culture and administrations that actually care about football? I had never thought about this, but, to be honest, the elite Pac kids would be foolish not to think about this. Imagine what would happen if Kedon, Drake Jackson, and few others were to leave for the SEC?

Terrific Tommy
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Terrific Tommy(@terrific-tommy)
August 18, 2020 11:53 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Do me a favor Allen. If that scenario comes true, keep me away from sharp objects. Good grief!!! 💀

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.(@atl-d-d-s)
August 19, 2020 7:19 am
Reply to  Terrific Tommy

Well, if the team is gutted, Helton won’t put it back together. We can finally cut that walking, talking cancer loose.

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.(@atl-d-d-s)
August 19, 2020 7:21 am
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

If all of our returning stars transfer to a school that plays football, it would be another way to show to the powers that be in University Park the folly of staying in the Pac-12, (as an additional bonus to finally getting rid of Hugs).

Last edited 1 year ago by ATL D.D.S.
gametv
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gametv(@gametv)
August 19, 2020 12:45 pm
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

I would be more pleased if Folt lost her job and Caruso was removed from the BOT. Those the the people that made the decision to vote against playing and retained Clay Helton.

Take the chains off Bohn’s legs and let him run with this thing already!