Looking at Potential Candidates for USC's Offensive Coordinator Position
USC needs a play caller for several reasons, the least of which is because its offense became so predictable under certain down-and-yardage situations last season.
USC head coach Lane Kiffin may also need to hire a play caller to take the heat off of his hot seat—yes, athletic director Pat Haden has gone on record several times to support Kiffin as the Trojans head coach, but any time you see this much staff turnover after a disaster of a season, no job is safe.
So who should be considered as a candidate for USC's offensive coordinator? Right now, James Cregg is USC's official offensive coordinator, but that's a paper title—Kiffin calls the plays.
There is no official search under way for a coordinator, but according to CBS Sports' Bruce Feldman, USC has been in contact with other schools—what staff positions they are inquiring about isn't known.
Here are my top choices for the next Trojan offensive coordinator if the position becomes officially open. We're not saying it is open, but if it were, how excited would Trojan fans get over my top candidates?
Calvin Magee, Co-Offensive Coordinator, Arizona
Pros: Calvin Magee orchestrated Arizona's Top 10 offense under head coach Rich Rodriguez last season. Magee has been with Rodriguez since 2001, except for a brief one-year stop at Pitt when Rodriguez was dismissed at West Virginia after the 2010 season ended.
Magee was also a finalist for the 2007 Broyles Award (outstanding football assistant coach).
Cons: Magee is a spread system guy and Kiffin will most likely stick to a pro set offense.
Chad Morris, Offensive Coordinator, Clemson
Pros: Chad Morris has been offensive coordinator at Clemson since 2011, and last season his Tigers offense ranked No. 9 in total productivity. Morris has 16 years experience as a high school head coach, including back-to-back state-title seasons while he was at Lake Travis High School in Texas.
Morris has a total of three full years of offensive coordinator experience at the Division 1 level: One year at Tulsa (2010) and two years at Clemson (2011-12).
Cons: Morris has a six-year contract worth 1.3 million per year at Clemson—he won't come cheaply. Also, Morris interviewed for the Texas Tech head coaching vacancy when Tommy Tuberville left for Cincinnati, so it appears he's looking for a big promotion and more money.
Jim Chaney, Offensive Coordinator, Arkansas
Pros: Lane Kiffin hired Jim Chaney as his offensive coordinator in his first (and only) year as head coach at Tennessee in 2009. Usually, when a head coach leaves or is dismissed, the new head coach doesn't retain his predecessor's staff—he wants his own guys. But Chaney was retained by Tennessee when Derek Dooley took over the reins after Kiffin was hired as USC's head coach.
When Dooley was dismissed, Chaney was retained as Tennessee's interim coach. Also worth noting: Chaney was Purdue's offensive coordinator (1997-2005) during its heyday of offensive firepower under then-quarterback Drew Brees.
Cons: Chaney was just hired two months ago by Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema as the Razorbacks' offensive coordinator.
Matt Canada, Offensive Coordinator, North Carolina State
Pros: Matt Canada has held offensive coordinator positions at Indiana, Northern Illinois and Wisconsin, each school a promotion from the previous. After Badger head coach Bret Bielema left for Arkansas, Canada landed at NC State.
Under Canada, the Badgers offense was ranked No. 65 nationally, which is very respectable considering Wisconsin was without the services of quarterback Russell Wilson and wasn't expected to do well in 2012. His previous year at Northern Illinois produced a No. 11-ranked total offense.
Cons: Canada has only been at NC State for a few months, but then again, going to USC from NC State should be viewed as a big promotion, shouldn't it?
Noel Mazzone, Offensive Coordinator, UCLA
Pros: He's UCLA's offensive coordinator and his offense beat USC's defense in 2012.
Cons: There are none. UCLA hired former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow—to be fair, Chow was the Tennessee Titans OC when UCLA hired him—so this looks like the perfect time to return the favor.
Shawn Watson, Offensive Coordinator, Louisville
Pros: Louisville's offense is a scream to watch, and most of that success has been due to offensive coordinator Mike Sanford, a former Trojan quarterback (1973-76). But Sanford dramatically parted with Louisville in October of 2011, and quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson was promoted to the position.
Louisville's offense has progressed beautifully, and while Watson has only had a year-and-a-half experience at Louisville, he's had three years of head coaching experience (Southern Illinois) as well as eight years experience as an offensive coordinator at Colorado and Nebraska.
Cons: None. Watson has held assistant positions as tackles, receivers, quarterbacks and tight ends coach.