With USC’s regular season ending Saturday against rival UCLA, the Trojans’ head coaching job could soon become open. If USC fires coach Clay Helton (whose 7-4 record entering this weekend hasn’t inspired confidence after last year’s 5-7 failure), then Florida State will no longer be the only premier job on the market.
The Seminoles and Trojans could end up targeting some of the same coaches, namely Penn State’s James Franklin (if he wants to start over at another premier job) and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell (who is due for a promotion to a bigger program, if he wants it).
Let’s see how the potential USC opening compares to the one at Florida State:
Last five seasons: 38-24, 2 New Year’s Six bowl games, 0 conference titles
Last 10 seasons: 96-35, 5 New Year’s Six/BCS bowl games, 3 conference titles, 1 playoff appearance, 1 national title
Last five seasons: 41-23*, 2 New Year’s Six bowl games, 1 conference title
Last 10 seasons: 85-44*, 2 New Year’s Six/BCS bowl games, 1 conference title
Advantage: FSU. The Seminoles have struggled more over the last three years but aren’t that far removed from higher highs than anything the Trojans have experienced since Pete Carroll left for the Seahawks.
3 national titles, 3 Heisman Trophy winners, 7 College Football Hall of Famers, 38 consensus All-Americans.
9 national titles (recognized by the NCAA), 7 Heisman Trophy winners, 34 College Football Hall of Famers, 54 consensus All-Americans.
Advantage: USC, although both are obviously strong.
Last four recruiting classes
52 blue-chip signees; average class rank 9.8.
52 blue-chip signees; average class rank 9.5.
FSU: In one of the top three prospect-producing states and is just south of No. 4 (Georgia).
USC: In the largest city of one of the top three prospect-producing states.
Advantage: USC, because the competition isn’t quite as fierce and it’s the top program on the West Coast.
President John Thrasher and athletic director David Coburn are both expected to retire in the next few years.
Hired new president (Carol Folt) and athletic director (Mike Bohn) earlier this year.
Advantage: USC. The Trojans’ administrative turmoil seems to have ended, while FSU’s new coach won’t know his long-term bosses.
Spent $57.7 million on football in 2017 (according to data provided to the U.S. Department of Education). Faced multi-million-dollar athletic department deficits the last two years.
Spent $32.9 million on football in 2017, but other data is hard to find for the private school.
Advantage: FSU. Even with the recent financial woes, the Seminoles have more monetary upside thanks to the ACC’s TV deals.
Football-only facility remains in the fundraising stages, but locker room and Doak Campbell Stadium have had recent upgrades.
Opened its $70 million football complex, the John McKay Center, in 2012.
Path to a title
In the same division with a juggernaut (Clemson), and perennial rival Florida looks on its way to becoming a consistent top-10 program. The rest of the ACC, however, is weak.
Pac-12 doesn’t have a dominant team, but it has a few very good ones. Nine conference games plus Notre Dame every year is a challenge.
Advantage: FSU, thanks to an ACC that’s regressing to its historically mediocre mean.
FSU and USC are both destination jobs in fertile recruiting footprints and championship histories. But the edge goes to the Trojans. They’ve straightened out their years-long administrative uncertainty and have the kind of football complex that FSU hasn’t yet started to build.