Texas Football: History Shows Longhorns Face Long Odds for Home Run Hire
Mack Brown’s resignation as Texas head coach hardly came as news to those who have monitored the story.
Rather, the story finally provided closure for what has long been considered a formality.
When Brown officially wrote the final pages of his chapter of Texas football, it set off rampant speculation. Namely, who will become the next head coach at Texas?
The position is widely acknowledged as one of the crown jewels in college football.
As such, the Texas administration and fans alike have set their sights high. Absurdly unrealistic names have surfaced—names like those of San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, as Chris Mortensen told ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown (via Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel), to Alabama coach Nick Saban.
Saban has since told ESPN's Chris Low that he never considered taking the Texas job.
Naturally, Texas seeks the elusive “home run hire.” The reality is there have been two such hires since 2000—Saban at Alabama and Urban Meyer at Ohio State—so the Longhorns brass has a tough job on its hands.
This is an up-close look at the—admittedly subjective—top 10 jobs in the country and who has been hired for them since the turn of the century.
Programs are listed alphabetically.
What makes Alabama a top-10 job?
Alabama is indisputably one of the Cadillac programs in college football because of its remarkable tradition and history.
Recruiting-wise, Alabama gets the majority of the top recruits in a talent-rich state. In-state rival Auburn has done a great job setting its footprint, but it has done so with a hodgepodge of in-state talent teamed with recruits from Georgia and Florida.
Few athletic departments can or will out-spend Alabama when it comes to fielding a winner, whether that money goes to coaches or facilities.
Hire 1: Dennis Franchione
Hired after 2000 season
Pedigree: TCU head coach (25-10 in three seasons)
Win the Press Conference Grade: C—Franchione became a hot name because of his success at TCU and on the Division I-AA level, but he was far from a home run hire for a program that wanted to get back to the glory days.
Record: 17-8, 10-6 SEC in two seasons; won SEC West in 2002 when Alabama was ineligible for postseason play.
How It Ended: Franchione forever made his name a curse word in Alabama lore when he left the NCAA sanction-riddled Crimson Tide for Texas A&M.
Hire 2: Mike Price
Hired after 2002 season
Pedigree: Washington State head coach (83-78 in 14 seasons)
Win the Press Conference Grade: B-minus—Price took the job after leading Washington State to two Rose Bowls in six seasons. Still, he was three seasons removed from consecutive last-place finishes in Pullman.
Record: 0-0; Never coached a game at Alabama.
How It Ended: Alabama rescinded Price’s contract before he ever coached a game because of a scandalous night at a strip club.
Hire 3: Mike Shula
Hired after 2002 season
Pedigree: Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach, offensive coordinator for Tampa Bay Buccaneers (no head-coaching experience)
Win the Press Conference Grade: D-minus—Two circumstances kept this from being a failing press conference grade: Shula’s last name and his experience as an Alabama quarterback. A total lack of head-coaching experience—and only three seasons of experience as a coordinator—made him a questionable hire.
Record: 26-23, 13-19 SEC in four seasons; high-water mark came in Cotton Bowl appearance in 2005; went 3-5 in SEC in one season and 2-6 twice.
How It Ended: A top-10 finish in 2005 couldn’t save Shula when his team regressed back to 6-6 the following year. His lasting image in the minds of Alabama fans will be his indecision at the end of his fourth consecutive loss to Auburn.
Hire 4: Nick Saban
Hired after 2006 season
Pedigree: Miami Dolphins head coach (15-17 in two seasons), LSU head coach (48-16, 28-12 SEC at LSU with two SEC championships and one national championship in five seasons)
Win the Press Conference Grade: A-plus—Since 2000, Saban to Alabama is the gold standard of home run hires. Fans essentially threw a national championship parade the day Saban landed in Tuscaloosa.
Record: 79-14, 46-10 SEC in seven seasons; Saban has won three BCS national championships and two SEC championships. The Crimson Tide made an appearance in another SEC Championship Game. Alabama has won 10 or more games in each of the past six seasons.
What makes Florida a top-10 job?
Though the Gators always had great opportunity because of in-state talent, they failed to perform up to their potential until Steve Spurrier turned Florida into a national power.
Dominating the state in recruiting helps, but it's certainly not necessary as long as the Gators land some of the top players.
As the lone SEC school in Florida, the Gators possess a huge selling point. Florida has strong facilities and will pay coaches commensurate with success. Two national championships and six 10-win seasons since 2000 show the program’s potential.
Hire 1: Ron Zook
Hired after 2001 season
Pedigree: New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator, Florida assistant coach (no head-coaching experience)
Win the Press Conference Grade: F—Whiffing on Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops hurt. Landing a name that nationally elicited a collective “Who?” didn’t help. At least Zook was a former Florida assistant coach. However, those roots didn’t stop a fan from starting the website FireRonZook.com within a day of his hire.
Record: 23-14, 16-8 SEC in three seasons; Zook fielded Top 25 teams all three years at Florida, but five losses in each of the first two seasons fell well short of the expectations Steve Spurrier set in Gainesville.
How it Ended: Florida fired Zook midway through his third season after the Gators lost to 1-5 Mississippi State. It was a fitting end for Zook, who led his team to some big wins but also suffered several inexcusable upsets. Zook finished out the regular season, leaving before the Peach Bowl.
Hire 2: Urban Meyer
Hired after 2004 season
Pedigree: Utah head coach (22-2, two Mountain West championships in two seasons)
Win the Press Conference Grade: A-minus—Meyer made himself a high-profile candidate for huge jobs after leading Utah to a perfect season. However, questions surrounded Meyer’s ability to succeed with his patented offense against SEC defenses. In hindsight, those concerns were ill-founded.
Record: 65-15, 36-12 SEC in six seasons; Meyer won two BCS national championships and two SEC championships. He also led the Gators to another SEC Championship Game appearance. Florida finished no worse than 13th in the AP poll in Meyer’s first five seasons.
How It Ended: Meyer “retired” from coaching because of health concerns in 2010 following a miserable—by Florida’s standards—seven-win regular season. The 8-5 campaign easily marked the least successful in Meyer’s tenure since the Gators finished unranked in the USA Today coaches poll or AP poll.
Hire 3: Will Muschamp
Hired after 2010 season
Pedigree: Texas defensive coordinator/head-coach-in-waiting, Auburn defensive coordinator, Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator, LSU defensive coordinator (no head-coaching experience)
Win the Press Conference Grade: B-plus—Programs in search of head coaches had sniffed around Muschamp for years. Texas seemingly put an end to such conversations by making him the head-coach-in-waiting. Yet when Florida came calling, Muschamp listened and ultimately took up athletic director Jeremy Foley on his offer.
A lack of head-coaching experience put some damper on the hire, but it was still met with great enthusiasm.
Record: 22-16, 13-11 SEC in three seasons; Muschamp enjoyed a short honeymoon period when the lack of talent Urban Meyer left behind translated into a 6-6 regular season in 2011. However, Muschamp bounced back in a big way in 2012 with an 11-1 regular season that included a trip to the Sugar Bowl.
Florida crashed back down to Earth this year. At 4-8, the Gators endured their worst season since 1979. The low point came when Florida lost at home to Georgia Southern. Muschamp is currently on track to open the 2014 season on arguably the hottest seat in the nation.
Program: Florida State
What makes Florida State a top-10 job?
Under Bobby Bowden, Florida State became a model of elite consistency during the 1990s. As with Florida, the in-state talent leaves ample top recruits to go around the state and to other programs trying to snag players.
Unlike the Gators, Florida State doesn’t have to compete on the field with the SEC year in and year out. Instead, the Seminoles dominate the ACC because of the program’s willingness to spend like it’s in the SEC.
Hire: Jimbo Fisher
Hired after 2009 season
Pedigree: Florida State offensive coordinator/head-coach-in-waiting, LSU offensive coordinator (no head-coaching experience)
Win the Press Conference Grade: B-minus—Florida State made it clear that Fisher would be the program’s next head coach by locking him into a head-coach-in-waiting contract. Under pressure, Bobby Bowden retired at the end of 2009. Fisher was the expected hire. The decision didn’t light a fire under Tallahassee, but fans could at least expect a smooth transition.
Record: 44-10, 26-6 ACC in four seasons; Fisher has the top-ranked Seminoles back in the BCS National Championship Game this season thanks to an undefeated 2013. He wrapped up his second consecutive ACC championship this year. Florida State has won at least nine games in all four seasons.
What makes LSU a top-10 job?
As the only major program in a talent-rich state, LSU gets whomever it wants in Louisiana almost every year. LSU is among the best programs in the nation at keeping in-state talent close to home. Houston is also easily accessible, though it has become more competitive now that Texas A&M has a footprint in the SEC.
Competing in the SEC can hardly be considered a given, but Nick Saban and Les Miles have proven just how well the machine can run when hitting on all cylinders. LSU boasts tremendous facilities and is not afraid to open the checkbook.
Hire 1: Nick Saban
Hired after 1999 season
Pedigree: Michigan State head coach (34-24-1 in five seasons)
Win the Press Conference Grade: B—Saban had already begun making a name for himself in 1999 but was not yet “Nick Saban.” His record at Michigan State left many fans with some concern, though he led the Spartans to a 9-2 season in his final year in East Lansing. LSU fans were, however, energized behind anyone who wasn’t Gerry DiNardo.
Record: 48-16, 28-12 SEC in five seasons; LSU won its first national championship since 1958 under Saban’s leadership in 2003. He also led the Tigers to an SEC championship in 2002 and an SEC Championship Game appearance in 2001. Saban won at least eight games in each of his five seasons.
How It Ended: A year after winning the BCS national championship, Saban left LSU for his chance as an NFL head coach. The Miami Dolphins hired him. Saban realized quickly that he preferred the college game to the pros and ultimately went back to the SEC—across the division to Alabama.
Hire 2: Les Miles
Hired after 2004 season
Pedigree: Oklahoma State head coach (28-21 in four seasons)
Win the Press Conference Grade: C-plus—Like Nick Saban, Miles’ track record didn’t necessarily indicate large-scale success. At Oklahoma State, Miles managed nine wins once and barely finished above .500 (7-5) in his final season. He did, however, show an ability to beat Bob Stoops and in-state rival Oklahoma.
Record: 94-24, 52-20 SEC in nine seasons; so far, Miles has racked up a BCS national championship, two SEC championships, another trip to the BCS National Championship Game and another trip to the SEC Championship Game. LSU has won eight-plus games every year under Miles and has won nine-plus in eight out of nine seasons. The Tigers have six 10-win seasons over the past nine years.
What makes Michigan a top-10 job?
Michigan is one of the national programs able to secure considerable local talent while also drawing elite recruits from all over the country. Great income leads to tremendous resources for one of the great historical programs. A deflated Big Ten promises to bounce back at some point, possibly along with Michigan.
Hire 1: Rich Rodriguez
Hired after 2007 season
Pedigree: West Virginia head coach (60-26, four Big East championships in seven seasons)
Win the Press Conference Grade: A-minus—Ask Michigan fans, and they’re likely to tell you that Rodriguez is, in fact, the devil himself. It’s easy to forget how great of a hire he appeared to be at the time.
Rodriguez came to Michigan with four Big East championships in the past five seasons and made West Virginia nationally relevant. Under Rodriguez, the Mountaineers finished as a top-10 team in each of his final three seasons. A year earlier, Alabama offered Rodriguez the job. He initially accepted the offer before backing out at the last minute.
Wolverines fans, nearly universally, wish he did the same in Ann Arbor.
Record: 15-22, 6-18 Big Ten in three seasons; trying to mesh pro-style offensive players with a spread offense proved unsuccessful for Rodriguez, who is responsible for two of the worst seasons of all time at Michigan.
How It Ended: Going 3-13 in the Big Ten through two seasons put Rodriguez on a scorching-hot seat. Even with NCAA rules violations before the start of the 2009 season, Rodriguez had a chance to save his job in 2010—at least the Wolverines qualified for a bowl that year.
However, the end of the season proved too much for Rodriguez to overcome. Michigan lost by 30 points to Ohio State, but he was given the opportunity to coach in the Gator Bowl. His final straw came when Mississippi State beat the Wolverines 52-14 in the New Year’s Day bowl. Michigan fired him within the week.
Hire 2: Brady Hoke
Hired after 2010 season
Pedigree: San Diego State head coach (13-12 in two seasons), head coach at Ball State (34-38, one MAC Championship Game appearance in six seasons)
Win the Press Conference Grade: C-minus—Hoke became a hot commodity by turning around a previously hopeless Ball State program and making San Diego State relevant in the Mountain West.
However, Michigan fans had their sights set significantly higher. Speculation, such as this Sports Illustrated column, Jim Harbaugh and Les Miles—both of whom had ties to the program—to the job. Hoke, no question, was a letdown from those two candidates.
Record: 26-12, 15-9 Big Ten in three seasons; for all of Rich Rodriguez’s flaws, he left behind a team talented enough to win 11 games, beat Ohio State and win the Sugar Bowl. Of course, those successes came with Hoke—and not Rodriguez—at the helm. Michigan finished as a top-10 team in the USA Today college football coaches poll.
Since then, though, the Wolverines are 15-10 heading into the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Michigan went 3-5 in the Big Ten this year, easily Hoke’s worst record in league play.
Program: Notre Dame
What makes Notre Dame a top-10 job?
Like Michigan, Notre Dame’s tradition puts it in select company. A lucrative deal with NBC teamed with a proud, large alumni base never leaves Notre Dame hurting for money. Not only can the program recruit nationally, but it also has the ability to dominate the Chicago area. Few venues or programs are more ubiquitous than that of Notre Dame.
The romanticism of turning the Fighting Irish into a regular national contender has drawn in more than its fair share of strong candidates.
Hire 1: George O'Leary
Hired after 2001 season
Pedigree: Georgia Tech head coach (52-33, one ACC championship in eight seasons)
Win the Press Conference Grade: F—Despite his success at Georgia Tech (and his tremendous Irish name), the O’Leary hire did not inspire the Notre Dame fanbase. The hire was so unpopular that Notre Dame jumped on the opportunity to force O’Leary to resign five days later when a reporter uncovered lies on his resume.
Record: 0-0; Notre Dame forced O’Leary’s resignation five days after he accepted the position.
How It Ended: Before O’Leary ever coached a game, a reporter discovered inaccuracies in his resume. Notre Dame decided those inaccuracies—O’Leary never actually lettered at New Hampshire, nor did he receive a master’s degree he claimed—were grounds for tearing up the contract.
Hire 2: Tyrone Willingham
Hired after 2001 season
Pedigree: Stanford head coach (44-36-1, one Pac-10 championship in seven seasons)
Win the Press Conference Grade: C-minus—With the O’Leary embarrassment behind it, Notre Dame introduced Willingham as its next head coach. The nation largely met the move with a collective yawn because of Willingham’s career record.
Record: 21-15 in three seasons; Willingham went 10-2 in his first regular season at Notre Dame, prompting tremendous optimism around the program. The good spirits, however, didn’t last long. The Fighting Irish followed with a 5-7 season and a 6-5 year, leading to Willingham’s dismissal.
How It Ended: Notre Dame finished a disappointing 2004 regular season with a 41-10 loss at No. 1 USC. The defeat marked the eighth by 22 points or more in Willingham’s three seasons, leading to his dismissal.
Hire 3: Charlie Weis
Hired after 2004 season
Pedigree: New England Patriots offensive coordinator, New York Jets offensive coordinator (no head-coaching experience)
Win the Press Conference Grade: B-minus—Notre Dame had its sights set on Urban Meyer, but he ultimately decided to sign instead with Florida. The program still made a splash by hiring Weis, a Notre Dame grad who helped construct a New England Patriots offense that won three Super Bowls on his watch. Still, the protege of Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick lacked head-coaching experience, raising red flags.
Record: 35-27 in five seasons; doubts about Weis’ ability disappeared when he led the Fighting Irish to consecutive BCS appearances in his first two years. However, Notre Dame lost both games by a combined 41 points. The wheels started to fall off in Year 3 when Notre Dame went 3-9. It went 12-12 in the next two regular seasons.
How It Ended: BCS appearances bought Weis time, but it expired after a 3-9 season and a pair of 6-6 regular seasons. Weis opened the 2009 season on the hot seat. The Fighting Irish started 6-2, giving him a reasonable chance to keep his job. However, they finished with four consecutive losses, including embarrassing home defeats to Navy and UConn.
Hire 4: Brian Kelly
Hired after 2009 season
Pedigree: Cincinnati head coach (34-6, two Big East championships in three seasons at Cincinnati)
Win the Press Conference Grade: A-minus—Kelly, who made a name for himself by winning big at Grand Valley State, became one of the hottest coaches in the nation with his success at Cincinnati. The Bearcats won at least 10 games in all three seasons under Kelly and captured conference titles in the last two with BCS appearances included.
Record: 36-15 in four seasons; after a pair of 8-5 seasons, Kelly hit it big in 2011. He guided the Fighting Irish to a perfect 12-0 regular season and an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game. Alabama, however, smashed Notre Dame in the title game. This year, the Fighting Irish took a step back, going 8-4 in the regular season and earning a spot in the Pinstripe Bowl.
Program: Ohio State
What makes Ohio State a top-10 job?
Five national championships under legendary coach Woody Hayes gives Ohio State an elite tradition and history. Ohio has also long been a fertile recruiting ground—and one that the Buckeyes have dominated seemingly forever. When the program needs to expand the recruiting net, it has the resources and the brand name to do so. Ohio State always finds itself at the top of the Big Ten in facilities as well.
Hire 1: Jim Tressel
Hired before 2001 season
Pedigree: Youngstown State head coordinator (135-57-2, four Division I-AA national championships in 15 seasons)
Win the Press Conference Grade: B—Tressel enjoyed tremendous success while at Youngstown State, but skepticism remained because he hadn’t competed at the Big Ten level.
Record: 106-22, 66-14 Big Ten in 10 seasons; in just his second season, Tressel led the Buckeyes to their first national championship in 32 years. Ohio State reached two more BCS National Championship Games under Tressel. It also won six Big Ten titles and made eight appearances in BCS bowls. Tressel led the Buckeyes to at least 10 wins in eight of 10 seasons.
How It Ended: At the end of the 2010 season, five key Ohio State players were suspended for the first five games of 2011 for receiving improper benefits. Before Sports Illustrated released its finding that the improper benefits scandal was far more rampant than originally thought, Tressel resigned his post as head coach.
Hire 2: Luke Fickell
Hired before 2011 season
Pedigree: Ohio State defensive coordinator (no head-coaching experience)
Win the Press Conference Grade: N/A—It’s unfair to grade Ohio State on hiring Fickell because it did so on an interim basis after predecessor Jim Tressel got fired for major NCAA rules violations.
Record: 6-7, 3-5 Big Ten in one season; even in the best circumstances, Fickell would have been in over his head. Add to it that the Buckeyes lost several key players, and he never stood a chance.
How It Ended: Fickell came on in an interim role. It would have taken something amazing for him to earn the position on a full-time basis.
Hire 3: Urban Meyer
Hired before 2012 season
Pedigree: Florida head coach (65-15, two national championships, two SEC championships in six seasons)
Win the Press Conference Grade: A-plus—Buckeyes fans everywhere rejoiced when Ohio State hired Meyer, who was at the very top of the wish list. A two-time national champion, Meyer immediately brought with him significant expectations and the hope that far brighter days were ahead.
Record: 24-1, 16-0 Big Ten in two seasons; ironically, Meyer has yet to win his first Big Ten championship at Ohio State. That’s about all he hasn’t accomplished in his first two seasons. The Buckeyes were ineligible for postseason play in 2012, eliminating what would have likely been a Big Ten title and an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game.
This year’s regular season ended in disappointment when Ohio State—one win shy of an appearance in the BCS National Championship Game—lost the Big Ten Championship Game to Michigan State.
What makes Oregon a top-10 job?
Forget history. Oregon finds itself on this list because of its reputation as “Nike U.” Nike co-founder and prominent alum Phil Knight has taken amazing care of his alma mater through the years. The resulting facilities make recruiting to Eugene far easier than it otherwise would be. Oregon is huge in the Pacific Northwest and can still drop into Southern California to snag upper-echelon recruits.
At this point, the Ducks can recruit from any corner of the nation.
Hire 1: Chip Kelly
Hired during the 2009 offseason
Pedigree: Oregon offensive coordinator (no head-coaching experience)
Win the Press Conference Grade: N/A—Predecessor Mike Belotti ascended to athletic director and Kelly stepped up to become head coach. With no national search, expectations weren’t really set.
Record: 46-7, 33-3 Pac-12 in four seasons; the Ducks won Pac-12 championships in Kelly’s first three seasons as head coach. They also reached the BCS National Championship Game in the 2010 season. All four of Kelly’s seasons in Eugene resulted in 10-plus wins and at least a share of the Pac-12 North title. Oregon finished No. 4 or better in three of four seasons.
How It Ended: Kelly went to the NFL after the 2012 season. With amazing results, Kelly certainly earned the chance afforded to him by the Philadelphia Eagles. His decision perhaps became easier, though, because of impending punishments from the NCAA for rules violations. After Kelly departed, the NCAA hit him with an 18-month show-cause penalty, essentially barring him from taking a college job for two seasons.
Hire 2: Mark Helfrich
Hired after 2012 season
Pedigree: Oregon offensive coordinator (no head-coaching experience)
Win the Press Conference Grade: B—Helfrich following in Chip Kelly’s footsteps surprised nobody. Like Kelly, Helfrich jumped from offensive coordinator to head coach. Kelly became the Philadelphia Eagles coach on Jan. 16, 2013. Four days later, after Oregon satisfied legal hiring practices, the program made the expected hire of Helfrich.
Though Helfrich had never before been a head coach, the success of Oregon’s offense teamed with his insistence of keeping the staff together pleased Ducks fans.
Record: 10-2, 7-2 Pac-12 in one season; national championship dreams died when divisional foe Stanford beat the Ducks in Palo Alto. An embarrassing loss at Arizona left Oregon outside of a BCS bowl game for the first time since 2008.
What makes Texas a top-10 job?
The nation’s second-biggest state fields arguably the country’s greatest high school football, leading to astonishing pools of in-state talent. Texas’ standing as the favorite program in the Lone Star State means the Longhorns largely get whatever prospects they want.
Recent studies show Texas rakes in more money than any other athletic department in the nation. The newly established Longhorn Network, teamed with absurdly beneficial media rights in the Big 12, only further lines the pockets of Texas.
No hires since 2000
Mack Brown served as Texas coach from 1998 to 2013.
What makes USC a top-10 job?
Abundant talent in Southern California makes recruiting relatively simple at USC in comparison to other programs. Even crosstown rival UCLA has, until recently, been unable to contend with the Trojans in the battle of Los Angeles both on the field and on the recruiting path.
USC raised the level of competition in the Pac-12, forcing other schools to pour in additional resources to contend with it. USC also boasts a history unlike most in the conference.
Hire 1: Pete Carroll
Hired after 2001 season
Pedigree: New England Patriots head coach, New York Jets head coach (33-31, two playoff appearances in four seasons)
Win the Press Conference Grade: D—Few USC fans embraced Carroll, who went away from coaching in 2000 after the Patriots fired him. Carroll was reportedly USC’s fourth choice, behind Dennis Erickson, Mike Belotti and Mike Riley. Thousands of complaints flooded USC upon Carroll’s hiring.
Record: 97-19, 62-14 Pac-10 in nine seasons; Carroll won two national championships while at USC—The Associated Press national championship (2003) and the BCS national championship in 2004. The 2004 national championship has since been vacated because of rules violations. The Trojans’ appearance in the 2005 BCS National Championship Game has also been vacated.
In seven of Carroll’s nine seasons, the Trojans claimed at least a share of the Pac-10 championship. The 2005 Pac-10 title has also been vacated. USC won at least 10 games in seven seasons under Carroll.
How It Ended: At the end of the 2009 season—USC’s worst since 2001—Carroll took the job as the Seattle Seahawks head coach.
Hire 2: Lane Kiffin
Hired after 2009 season
Pedigree: Tennessee head coach (7-6 in one season)
Win the Press Conference Grade: A-minus—Widely regarded as a superstar in the making, Kiffin made a triumphant return to USC early in 2010. Kiffin served as an assistant coach under Pete Carroll for six seasons before the Oakland Raiders hired Kiffin as their head coach. After the Raiders fired Kiffin, he became the head coach at Tennessee.
That Kiffin brought with him his famous father, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, only further excited USC faithful.
Record: 28-15, 17-12 Pac-12; the sanctions levied by the NCAA against USC hit far harder than Kiffin or anyone else in the Trojans camp could have expected. The Trojans went 8-5 in the first year.
However, Year 2 saw Kiffin guide USC to a 10-2 season and finish the year as arguably the hottest team in the nation. The Trojans entered the 2012 season as preseason No. 1, but finished 7-6, ceding the Pac-12 South to rival UCLA.
How It Ended: The disappointment of the 2012 season left Kiffin on a remarkably hot seat. A pair of embarrassing losses, including a home defeat from Washington State and a 62-41 loss at Arizona State, forced athletic director Pat Haden’s hand.
Haden fired Kiffin in bizarre fashion, famously sending to have Kiffin pulled off the team bus when the team arrived at LAX. Kiffin was not allowed to finish the 2013 season.
Hire 3: Steve Sarkisian
Hired after 2013 season
Pedigree: Washington head coach (34-29 in five seasons)
Win the Press Conference Grade: C-minus—With names like that of Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin swirling, USC instead went with a familiar face. Trojans fans had another former USC assistant in mind—namely interim coach Ed Orgeron. Sarkisian enjoyed modest success at Washington, but entered the year on the hot seat.
Record: 0-0; Sarkisian has yet to make his coaching debut at USC and will not coach the Trojans against Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl.