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A New Look...

One of the downfalls of having the type of success that USC has had the past several years is that everyone scrutinizes every move the program makes. SC has had players leave early and coaches looking to take their skills to the next level. SC has lost significant coaching abilities in the past with Chow, Davis and Orgeron moving on, yet Pete Carroll has filled those positions with mostly capable replacements. I would agree that had Chow stayed we would have beat Texas but after that I am not prepared to make bold statements that we would have won more because with three MNC titles in a row USC was sure lose some of the coaching staff along with the players that left after that season.

For the most part USC has made changes to the coaching staff in the past without much noise but this year is different. With USC losing both their Offensive and Defensive Coordinators to Washington and with the hiring of a new D-line coach, though he has been there before, and now the hiring of an outsider to be the new QB coach it could be a very interesting off-season. Sometimes change is a good thing...this upcoming season will be a challenge with a revamped offensive coaching staff and a new starting QB at the helm.

So lets look at our new QB coach Jeremy Bates...

Bates, 32, replaces Carl Smith, who was named to the position on Jan. 6 but had yet to start work.

Smith, USC's quarterbacks coach in 2004, interviewed with the Cleveland Browns last week. On Monday, he was finalizing terms of a deal to join the NFL team as quarterbacks coach, Carroll said.

In Denver, Bates worked with quarterback Jay Cutler and called plays for the NFL's second-most productive offense. But Bates' role with the Broncos became uncertain after Mike Shanahan was fired as coach. New Coach Josh McDaniels will call plays and recently hired an offensive coordinator.

Carroll described Bates as "one of the young, unbelievably bright minds in the NFL" who wants to become a head coach and saw USC as "a great place to come and get that done."

Carroll met with Bates in Denver on Monday to finalize the deal. Carroll said he also had spoken with New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer about the position that originally opened when Steve Sarkisian was hired as Washington's head coach in December.

Bates will call plays from the field while new offensive coordinator John Morton works from the coaches' booth in the press box.

It's clear that Bates comes with high marks if he was being pursued by a number of NFL teams and in reading some of the comments over at SBN's Denver Broncos blog Mile High Report it appears that he is generally liked and respected.

It is also clear by these hires that SC is going in a different direction in that they are going NFL heavy in their experience.

If there looks to be a pattern here, well there is.

USC has lost three coaches this year, all of whom were essentially college guys, with maybe a smidgen of pro experience here and there.

But the replacements for Steve Sarkisian, Nick Holt and David Watson have not come from the college ranks.

Both quarterbacks coaches, Carl Smith (Jacksonville) and Jeremy Bates (Denver), the defensive line coach Jethro Franklin (Houston), and the special teams coach, Brian Schneider (Oakland) all have come from the NFL.

"We're just trying to find the best guys at what they do,'' Carroll said Monday after the hiring of Bates as assistant head coach for offense and quarterbacks coach.

Whatever the reasons I think this signals that by going outside of how he does certain things Pete Carroll is upping the ante in getting the team prepared for the off-season and beyond.

No more mister nice guy?

Could it be that the days of mentoring rookies are over and that its time for a more professional approach. A pissed off Pete Carroll is not a good thing for our rivals.

Maybe its because we have fallen short the past few seasons with missed opportunities. Maybe because he just decided to make a change. Maybe he is tired of simply winning Pac-10 and Rose Bowl titles while missing out on the MNC, whatever the reason if it fires him up and re-energizes him I'm fine with it.

With Morton in the press box and Bates on the field calling plays this I think this will be a solid transition but Pete will still have the ultimate say in how both the offense and defense will be run. This will the first time in Carroll's tenure that there won't be any connection to the past (Chow) by either players or coaches. This will be a new look offense with a new QB at the helm. Bates brings some different looks than what we have seen in the past.

There are some already throwing dirt on SC's grave...that's fine, no one really knows how well a team responds to adversity until they come together as one. The season has been over for almost 3 weeks and most of us can't wait for spring ball. This will not be an easy task but there is no other coach that I would trust during this transistion.

To some, SC may not be the odds on favorite win another Pac-10 title but is there another clear cut favorite in 2009? WIth this new look coaching staff I like our chances just fine.