Updated: Sep 16, 2021
Shout out to USC.
One, they fired their head coach just two games into the season. That's obviously unfortunate for Clay Helton, but gives those of us who cover such things plenty of fodder to discuss going forward. After all, it isn't often that one of the five best jobs in college football opens up. It's even less often it opens up with three full months before it can be reasonably filled.
Still, that hasn't stopped the speculation, as everyone has this list of preferred candidates - including this site, which dropped a bunch yesterday.
Well, one day later, many of those candidates had to meet with the media for the first time. Which of course led to awkward questions about the USC job, questions that were immediately deflected.
In each coach's defense, there really is no reason to talk about any job that might never even be offered to you. On the other, it is funny to hear all these pretend as though they aren't at least interested in a call from USC, again, one of the five best jobs in the sport. There is a reason after all, that each of the last two times the gig was open, it was filled by a sitting Power 5 head coach (Lane Kiffin from Tennessee and Steve Sarkisian from Washington).
Regardless, with the job now open, here are how a handful of coaches have responded to reported interest from USC.
First up, Cincinnati's Luke Fickell.
While Fickell has no natural ties to USC - he has lived all but one year of his life in Ohio - he was of course hired at Cincinnati by Mike Bohn, the current AD at USC. Still, Fickell had no time for the dumb question, even dropping the true football guy response, that he barely has time for family during football season, let alone job rumors.
Next up, was James Franklin.
It's interesting because Franklin has seemingly been tied with this job, pretty much as long as he has been a head coach. He was linked to the gig when it opened in 2016 during the time Helton was an interim at the school, and then again the last few years, as its become increasingly clear Helton isn't the guy long-term.
Like Fickell however, Franklin is playing it cool. And like Fickell he dropped some Football Guy truisms, talking about avoiding distraction in the lead-up to a big game against Auburn this weekend.
What is especially interesting about these two guys, is that well, neither went out of the way to deny interest in the job. So much as just say that their sole focus is on the task at hand this weekend, with each having a big game.
Then, Wednesday, came the moment we've all been waiting for: When would Urban Meyer be asked on the USC job, a job he clearly has absolutely no interest in.
Just ask Urban Meyer.
To quote the movie "Liar, Liar": COME. ON. It's almost like you can see Meyer making up "health issues" in his own head to get out of the dumpster fire that is Jacksonville.
Then, later Wednesday we got one more coach who seemingly refused to truly deny the rumors of his name being tied to the job.
Stoops of course, was rumored to have had conversations with the Trojans following the 2019 season, before USC ultimately decided to stick with Helton.
Well Stoops is still available, and he's still, not exactly denying interest in the job.
Finally, there was one more coach asked about the USC job, but this one, well, we actually believe is not interested and happy where he is.
He's the man that made USC frankly into the desirable job it is today, Pete Carroll. He was asked about it late Monday and politely declined.
While we believe Carroll, I'm not sold on either Fickell, Franklin and certainly not Meyer.
We'll keep you updated as the non-denial, denials continue to roll in.
In the meantime, here's Aaron's reaction to the news below: