Where Should USC Look?

Jon Wilner (The Mercury News)  —  Lynn Swann, who was never really in, is out as USC’s athletic director.

He resigned today, two days after the decision to retain Clay Helton doesn’t look like the worst development of Swann’s tenure.

(There have been many bad developments.)

Fortunately for the Trojans, the Hotline has been pondering possible replacements for Swann for weeks — because Swann’s departure was inevitable.

Above all, USC must hire someone who understands major college athletics and major college football and did not play for the Trojans and hasn’t been on staff during the recent tumult.

After Mike Garrett, Pat Haden and Swann, they cannot turn around and hire Keyshawn.

If I’m advising president Carol Folt, the search is a three-step process:

Step 1. Call Rick George (and get turned down).

George is in his seventh year at Colorado after serving as president of business operations for the Rangers (the Texas Rangers).

He was recruiting director for CU during the national title run under Bill McCartney, understands the challenges within college sports — he’s on the Working Group assigned to find a solution to the Name, Image, Likeness issue — and checks every box.

He would be the sheriff, coming in to clean up the mess.

Except, I would guess, George doesn’t check the box that involves a willingness to take the job.

He qualifies as a call you have to make, even though the answer is probably a no.

*** Step 2: Interview a handful of qualified candidates who might consider the job.

(There are plenty of qualified sitting ADs who, in our estimation, would not be interested. They are not listed here.)

UNLV athletic director Desiree Reed-Francois:

Don’t hold her alma maters against her. (She was a rower at UCLA and got her law degree from Arizona).

Reed-Francois has worked at Cal, Fresno State, Tennessee and was the No. 2 at Virginia Tech — she oversaw daily operations of the football program — before taking the UNLV job two years ago.

Colorado State athletic director Joe Parker:

He orchestrated a $38 million naming rights agreement for CSU’s football stadium, which is really all you need to know about Parker’s ability.

Yep: $38 million from Public Services Credit Union for a stadium in Fort Collins.

But if you’re curious about his background: All-American swimmer at Michigan, stints at Oklahoma and Texas.

Iowa State’s Jamie Pollard:

Highly respected in the industry, and he hired Matt Campbell.

And Fred Hoiberg.

Also: Matt Campbell.

Villanova’s Mark Jackson:

The only former Trojan on this list — but he’s not an alumnus.

Jackson is from New England, worked in the NFL and was the Chief Innovation officer at USC before moving to Villanova.

We would make the call; we would talk it through; but Jackson would have to make an extremely compelling case — and have serious internal support — because the Trojans are in desperate need of new blood.

Which brings us to step three …

*** Step 3: Hire the no-brainer, absolute No. 1 option:

Washington State’s Pat Chun.

Fundraising acumen? Check.

(Google it.)

Willingness to leave his current post? Check.

(That’s my assumption, only because Chun is not from the Pacific Northwest and didn’t attend WSU.)

Background in major college football at a blue-blood school? Check.

He spent 15 years on the athletic department staff at Ohio State.

Proven foresight for hiring head coaches? Check.

Chun hired Lane Kiffin at Florida Atlantic, which would not be a good move at USC but was a stroke of brilliance at FAU.

And brilliance, like defense, travels.

Chun gets college sports, understand football, is relentless with donors, alumni and former players and would establish an infrastructure and culture that would greatly reduce the likelihood of future embarrassment.

It’s so obvious, even the USC administration should see it.

mercurynews.com

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Steveg
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Swann is gone, now lets let it rest. Doesn’t matter how, where, or why. What is important now is what is coming down the road, and the first bump is going to be BYU. This will be a harder game for USC than Stanford was. A little more talent spread around the team. Not that USC cannot handle them, they should, but they cannot overlook them thinking about Utah further down the road. Folt is going to take USC back to prominence and I believe she is going to do it right, not quickly, but solidly.

Golden Trojan
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Utah handled BYU pretty easily, T Martin’s Tenn took them to double OT. So, yes, SC should take them if they are as focused as they were last game. Actually looking forward to a fun game. And we get an afternoon game not that late night crap!

thekatman
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Much like with our presidential election in 2016, we got our Patton. With the dire straits of the situation USC is in at the moment, the USC AD position must be filled by a person like Generals George Patton, Westmorland or Schwartzkopf. These guys were badass leaders of men/women, knew what needed to be done, made it happen, and didn’t take no for an answer. If Folt hires a “yes” man/woman, nothing changes all that much.

RialtoTrojan
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The perfect solution is to ask Clay Helton to take the position of Athletic Director. I know what you are thinking and I have thought of everything. First you have Clay finish this football season as Athletic Director and elevate someone else (or hire) as head coach. If the season is somewhat stable, the fix worked. But remember a department director is administration and administration can be fired at will. Since Helton doesn’t anticipate well, he’ll most likely see the new job as a promotion rather than a trap. After the first of next year, more viable names may become… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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I strongly disagree. See my post below. SC MUST have an experienced AD business leader. Clay in one of the issues that needs to be decided (amongst others). My guess is Clay is gone, unless he forces the new AD to keep him. A wise AD will be looking out over the next 5 years. Is Clay the answer? If he is, say so. If not, get rid of him. Clay will need to be VERY good this year. My guess is the minimum is a RB win.

Steveg
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That’s pretty low. Helton has given the best he has. Right it isn’t enough for USC, but why do that to him. Low, really low.

Trojan96
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Steve I hope that’s sarcasm. With Helton make millions per year, I refuse to see him as a victim. With his inability to coach at this level, he deserves every bit of criticism. Especially when he continually insults our intelligence during his pressers.

TrojanRJJ
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Steve, I was expressing the viewpoint of Bruce Feldman (expressed on a podcast) on how he saw the new AD would view Helton. I think it is very realistic. Clay is not going to be able to “save” his job. He will need to FORCE the new AD not to replace him with a big name and successful coach. I agree with Allen, JDR is NOT an option. I would rather keep Clay than go to JDR.

RialtoTrojan
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Why so serious? It was a joke. A simple solution to save millions in buyout. You elevate the clown to administrator level and fire him without cause.
Wow I thought someone would see it!
I still don’t see why USC would have to pay anything to someone who doesn’t deserve it. I know you are going to say we wouldn’t be able hire a replacement if Helton isn’t paid off, but honestly the contract wasn’t honored by Helton. I
Sorry I posted it won’t happen again.

TrojanRJJ
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We need a 1st class business person, who has no prior contacts with USC. I have no background on that type of person. The new AD will need not only to clean house, but will need to evaluate the football program AND evaluate SC’s position inside the Pac 12. The Pac 12 relationship is interesting – is it in SC’s best interests to strengthen the conference as a whole or leave it weak. Last year, the Big 10 produced 30 million more per school in distributable income than the Pac. If the football program is successful, SC will be able… Read more »

trojan92
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Personally I think Swann was worse (but not by much)

LawyerJohn
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Swann felt the professional thing to do was to resign so Folt could build her team. With those hollow words Folt is just another politician, but perhaps she had no choice in order to have Swann save a little face.

Trojan5
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LJ, it might have made us feel better and given us a big laugh had she said “Swann is unqualified for the position and has been a total failure.” But no one , anywhere in a position of authority is going to make that statement. Thus far , I can’t find much of anything not to like about President Folt.

TrojanMPA90
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I disagree with your thoughts. I think she actually evaluated the situation, made a decision, and gave Swann the opportunity to either resign or be outright fired. So far I’m impressed with Dr. Folt.

Paul_Muad_dib
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I’m sure there’s a graduate assistant we can promote to AD. Some who knows USC…

Trojan5
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Does he have to “know” USC, or “get” USC?

Paul_Muad_dib
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Lol, I’m actually confused as to what each one means.

rleeholder1
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Sounds like Chun and Parker would be good candidates to interview. It seems Folt and her committee will do a good job of vetting the candidates. Dr. Folt has already proven herself to be a keen administrator by letting Swann go.