Well friends, it’s that time again. The USC Trojans have finally fired their head coach, Clay Helton. Some might say it was a long time coming, while others wonder why USC did such a foolish thing, instead of extending him for another 10 years. Alas, Helton is gone, and the task is to find another head coach for the Trojans.
And who better to fill that role than the guy we, the media*, have been hoping and praying for in the last, say, five years? Personally, I couldn’t wait to write this piece, because it simply Makes Sense™ for James From State College to take the job. In fact, it makes so much sense, that USC should leave the position vacant until Franklin finally accepts the job. Here are six reasons why Franklin is the perfect candidate for the Trojans
James Franklin is a person
Franklin is the perfect candidate for the Trojans. He is, first of all, a person! A human being, if you may. USC needs a person to fill the job, and if they happen to be a human beings that’s even better. I think this one is pretty clear, so I shouldn’t have to expand on why being a person makes Franklin the perfect candidate.
James Franklin won the Big Ten in 2016
In order to coach at a place like USC, you need to show that you have what it takes to win the conference. Franklin already proved this when he won the Big Ten in his third season with the program, riding the momentum of having beaten Ohio State all the way to the Big Ten championship game.
The problem, of course, is that the win against the Buckeyes was a fluke, so the entire championship was a fluke. At a place like USC, he would have to earn a championship by beating Oregon and UCLA (which would be earned), instead of Michigan and Ohio State (which are flukes).
The Nittany Lions then faced the very same USC Trojans he’d be leaving to coach, and, because he was instead the coach of Penn State, he lost that game. Maybe he’d have won that Rose Bowl if he’d been wearing Red and Gold instead of Blue and White.
And that's why he Makes Sense™ for USC.
James Franklin has a top 5 recruiting class in 2022
Franklin has been building the talent slowly at Penn State, painstakingly going after top recruits, missing on some, but landing on others, to the point where the Nittany Lions sit at 16th in the 247 Talent Composite. Things have finally started to turn a corner for Franklin, and he’s now slated to bring in one of the most talented classes in his tenure at Penn State, and arguably in the history of the rankings era for the Lions.
All that said, USC sits at 10th in that same Talent Composite ranking, and while the roster will have the same kinds of holes he found himself needing to fix at Penn State, it would be well worth it to do it again at USC, because they’re sitting at 10th in the Talent Composite!
James Franklin could win the Big Ten in 2021
The biggest obstacle to Penn State winning the Big Ten year in and year out has been Ohio State. After this Saturday’s loss to Oregon, the Buckeyes have looked as mortal as they ever have, leaving the door wide open for the Nittany Lions to
earn luck their way into another Big Ten championship. In fact, it was so clear to everyone that they lucked into the championship that the playoff committee kept Penn State out of the playoff that year to send a message.
Of course, the Buckeyes can put it all together come October 30th and make this moot. After all, Penn State is merely 7th in SP+, and while they beat 8th-ranked Wisconsin on the road, it’s going to be a much taller task to beat the 5th-ranked SP+ team on the road.
Now, at USC, he’d be taking over the 24th-ranked Trojans and would almost be a shoo-in for the Pac-12 title year after year. All he’d have to do is get through 20th-ranked Arizona State, 19th-ranked Utah, 17th-ranked UCLA, 16th-ranked Oregon to earn. They also play a Notre Dame team that has been surprisingly consistent as of late, but when has losing an extra game led to a team missing the playoff?
James Franklin is a Pennsylvania guy
In order to recruit well in California, you need someone like Franklin, who has spent most of his career in the east coast. He’s from Pennsylvania, played for a team in Pennsylvania, started his coaching career in Pennsylvania, has recruiting relationships all over the east coast, and has a coaching staff composed almost exclusively of east coast guys.
That said, he spent a year at Washington State and Idaho State in 1998 and 99, respectively, which proves he can have success moving across the country and starting those relationships anew. Moreover, recruiting at USC is going to be a lot easier than at Penn State, so he’ll just need to show up and the relationships will build themselves!
James Franklin likes a challenge
Franklin’s love for a rebuild started off as an assistant at Maryland. While there, he helped build the Terrapins into a competitive team. He continued that trend at Vanderbilt, where he made three consecutive bowl games upon taking the job, which is almost as many bowls as the Commodores had made in their entire history, that number being four.
With Vanderbilt being rebuilt, Franklin knew his job was done. So he took an opportunity to up the ante and take over a team that was in the middle of arguably the worst sanctions handed to any team since SMU got the death penalty.** And what did he do at Penn State? Well, you’ve read reasons two to six, you already know what he’s done. So, why wouldn’t it make sense for Franklin to start all over at USC, the juicy potential of another rebuild just waiting for him to say the word?
We all know James a good thing going at Penn State, and he’s worked extremely hard to get the Nittany Lions to where they are today. But Franklin would be a fool to stay at a job where he can do exactly what he wants when he can leave for the potential to do the same thing elsewhere with the understanding that the conference he’d be going to has a hard time accomplishing what he wants to accomplish at the moment. That’s why it just Makes Sense™.
*We at Black Shoe Diaries do not consider ourself “the media.” Please respect our privacy in these matters.
**Yes, those sanctions would end up being lifted shortly after he started at the job, but he still felt the effects of a depleted roster.