No need for big-name hire? Five takeaways from roundtable on USC coaching job

USC players run out of the tunnel before a game against Oregon State on Sept. 25.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

USC now has company as a college football heavyweight with a head coach opening. Earlier this week, Louisiana State told Ed Orgeron that following up the 2019 national championship with a 9-8 record the last two seasons is not good enough. So how does the Trojans job stack up compared to LSU and other top programs?

We spoke with former head coaches Rick Neuheisel, Jim Mora, Dave Wannstedt and Mike Stoops to gauge the temperature across their industry on USC. Here are five intriguing takeaways from the conversation:

Rick Neuheisel, Jim Mora, Dave Wannstedt and Mike Stoops discuss questions facing USC leaders as the Trojans compete with LSU for a new coach.


1. Neuheisel, the former UCLA, Washington and Colorado coach, thinks that USC athletic director Mike Bohn should make a call to Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. Hey, if Bohn hasn’t made contact yet, he can shake Kelly’s hand and give him a wink on Saturday in South Bend.

2. Mora, who lives in Idaho and was out on a hike when reached, was very talkative. Looking back, it was funny that he made a point about how USC doesn’t need a big name and then later said he would hire Deion Sanders.

3. Mora has recent experience as a college head coach in Los Angeles, and he went on a rant about how challenging it is to build a family atmosphere at USC because of not living close to campus and not being able to easily host players at your home. He used Penn State as the opposite scenario, which makes one wonder how much James Franklin cares about that.

As USC and LSU leaders search for a new football coach, we evaluate which job is better.

4. Mora said during his time working at ESPN nobody talked about Pac-12 football. This wasn’t surprising but certainly validated the idea of a West Coast bias.

5. Apparently, former UCLA coaches revere the USC program. Neuheisel and Mora were fired up talking about the potential of the Trojans with a new leader.