Generally speaking coaching hires have three criteria to be included in the process. They need to be good coaches in average situations, they need to have distance, and they need to be peaking. The first eliminates coaches like Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, and Les Miles. The second removes hot coaches like Kyle Wittingham of Utah and Scott Frost, the offensive coordinator at Oregon. Analyzing the remaining coaches is where the AD makes his money. Assuming coaches like Gary Pinkel and James Franklin have no interest in leaving their current situations, which I feel is safe, USC is left with one name: Mark Dantonio.
Dantonio has a record of 82-31 at Michigan State and will have won at least 10 games in 5 of the past 6 seasons (assuming his 7-0 Spartans don’t collapse). Having taken over one of the middle-of-the-road Big Ten teams, he has turned Sparty into a powerhouse and a legitimate National Championship contender. His team is cruising following this week’s improbable 27-23 win, but that doesn’t mean the writing isn’t on the wall.
His team is led by a senior quarterback in Connor Cook. Cook will be gone next season, as will defensive standout Shilique Calhoun. Urban Meyer is the king of the Big 10, and with the addition of Jim Harbaugh at rival Michigan, Dantonio can see some cracks in his state dominance. Talks around Michigan have already begun that this is his last season in East Lansing. MSU is bound to fall off over the next few seasons, and it could be argued that Dantonio is both a top 5 coach nationally and the third best in his own division.
USC represents a chance to be one of the big boys for Dantonio. If he were able to take USC to the success he has had at Michigan State, he will be mentioned in the same breath as Saban and Meyer. Dantonio can coach, and USC would be in great position for national success should he join the Trojans.