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Former NFL head coach Jeff Fisher is among the candidates in USC’s coaching search following the firing of Clay Helton, according to The Action Network’s Brett McMurphy.
Fisher, an alumnus of USC, compiled a 173-165-1 record in 22 seasons with the Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Rams.
Former Trojans star Carson Palmer inadvertently spilled the beans on whom his alma mater is targeting during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show. He cited the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin as a possibility and alluded to Penn State’s James Franklin, Iowa State’s Matt Campbell and Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell:
Dan Patrick Show @dpshow
Carson Palmer has been included in conversations surrounding #USC next Head Football Coach and he says #Steelers HC Mike Tomlin is a name that could be in the mix. pic.twitter.com/GJpar0cZUy
Even though he has an existing connection to the school, Fisher would be an odd choice for USC.
The school famously struck gold with Pete Carroll, who had been fired by the New England Patriots and wasn’t one of the top candidates on the athletic department’s wish list.
But Carroll was 50 in his first year with USC, and he had worked as an assistant for Arkansas, Iowa State, Ohio State, North Carolina State and Pacific prior to moving to the NFL.
Fisher, meanwhile, will turn 64 in February, and the extent of his college coaching experience is working as an advisor for Tennessee State this season.
A better analog for Fisher might be Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards.
Edwards, who had been out of the sport since 2008, took over the Sun Devils ahead of the 2018 season. In addition to mixed results for ASU on the field (22-15 overall record), the NCAA is looking into potential violations the program committed.
The steadily diminishing returns of the Helton era demonstrated the need for USC to hire a head coach who can energize prospective recruits in the way Carroll and his staff did. The Trojans currently sit 43rd in 247Sports’ composite team rankings for 2022. They’ve watched as Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal has poached some of the best talent in Southern California.
It’s difficult to envision Fisher as somebody who can make USC the pre-eminent recruiting power in the Pac-12 again.
The downturns Florida State, Miami and Nebraska are evidence of how quickly a one-time powerhouse can get mired in quicksand because of a series of bad coaching hires. That could be USC in a few years if athletic director Mike Bohn whiffs on Helton’s replacement.
With so much on the line, Fisher would raise eyebrows.