After making the decision to retain its head football coach, USC has made a move to hold onto offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, whose successful debut with the Trojans has made him one of the most coveted coaches on the college carousel.
USC offered Harrell a new contract on Friday, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke on the condition on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.
It’s up to Harrell to decide if he’d like to continue coaching at USC, where he required just one season to transform a moribund offense into one of the nation’s most explosive attacks.
The offer, which is believed to include a sizable raise, comes soon after Harrell, a Texas native, interviewed for the same job at Texas. The details of the offer were unclear on Friday, but as Texas looms, USC is attempting to move swiftly to secure Harrell.
That urgency became clear quickly after new athletic director Mike Bohn announced the decision to retain Clay Helton on Wednesday. In a sit-down with reporters, soon after the announcement, Bohn offered impromptu praise of Harrell, calling his Air Raid offense “impressive by any standard.”
Maintaining that standard is expected to cost USC significantly. Bohn promised a “redoubled commitment to tools, resources and access to things that are going to help them be successful.”
Many within and around the program believe that’s a price worth paying. Harrell was hired in January, after Kliff Kingsbury abruptly departed to become the coach of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. Harrell quickly earned plaudits from players and coaches, as his offense radically simplified the scheme USC had run the season before.
The Trojans have the fifth-most proficient passing attack in the nation behind the unexpected rise of Kedon Slovis, who arrived at USC as an overlooked three-star recruit. Under Harrell’s watch, Slovis stepped in for injured quarterback JT Daniels and emerged as one of the best young passers in college football, throwing for 3,242 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Max Slovis, Kedon’s father, said this week that Harrell was one of “the single most influential people in Kedon’s growth.”