It’s not who they hire, it’s who does the hiring. Does the person have the capacity of hiring the right coach?
Does each "Top 5 football school" automatically get the "best" coach at the time of hire?
John McKay was an assistant coach before being named the HC. Was he the sexy pick at that time? Not sure but we know how successful he was at SC. Ditto for John Robinson. After the dark ages, Pete Carroll was hired. He wasn’t the sexy pick but national championships also followed him.
Ohio State: Post Woody Hayes – no sexy hires. Was Jim Tressel the sexy pick when hired? No. OSU was the fortunate beneficiary of timing that Urban Myer was both available and ready to get back into coaching.
Alabama: Pretty much an up and down record after Bear Bryant. Similar to OSU, Alabama was also the fortunate beneficiary of timing that Nick Saban realized that he’s a college and not an NFL coach and was ready to go back.
Texas: After Darrell Royal, the Longhorns were in their dark ages. Mack Brown wouldn’t have been a sexy hire coming from UNC. But they did pretty good including winning a national championship at SC’s expense [easily one of college football’s best games]. The jury is out on Charlie Strong, who was a top hire at the time.
Michigan: Post Bo Schembechler, UM usually hires from within. None are sexy hires with the exception of Jim Harbaugh, where Michigan, like OSU and Alabama, was the beneficiary of timing and/or a willingness of a coach to return to the college ranks.
At the end of the day the person hiring the coaches must make the decision that the man in front of him has the capability of representing the university and elevating the student-athletes to be champions as athletes and human beings.
Unless there is a "super" candidate available a la Myers, Saban or Harbaugh, the Top 5 Schools generally do not hire the sexy pick.
Please stop deluding yourselves that the HC job at these schools is the end-all or be-all for all coaches. For instance, no-one has mentioned Dabo Sweeney who has had five 10+ win seasons at Clemson, which is currently rated#1. Why doesn’t Dabo come to USC if it is truly one of the top 5 coaching jobs? Based on his record, he certainly qualifies as a worthy candidate for the SC job. Just speculating but maybe he’s happy at Clemson and would only leave there for his alma mater, Alabama.
If Helton wins out or suffers one "good" loss [i.e. close game, no coaching errors, etc] then in the absence of the "super" coach, I believe he should be offered a 1 + 1 deal for some of the following reasons:
1. Coaching continuity – there should be some changes with the assistants [he will do what he wants. I think that the DC and O-line coach both underachieved miserably].
2. Coaching up: He’s introduced coaching up the third stringers and scout team members.
3. Recruiting continuity: Assurance with recruits that they’re dealing with a people oriented mentor.
4. Flexibility: He seems to make in game changes to the game plan unlike his predecessors.
5. Adaptability: He embraced the concept of Trojan football. He is actually getting the team back to basics – physical football, instead of just talking about it.
6. Easy exit: If Haden is indeed the one making the decision and he also expects to leave the AD position shortly, then this hire makes sense as it will be seen as a transition to the new AD. Unless Helton’s teams are extremely successful in which case, we have our next saviour.
If he does a great job next year, he will automatically be renewed. If he doesn’t then he gets paid for the following year and SC may get lucky from a coaching availability perspective. If he truly believes that he’s ready to continue leading the Trojans, he will take the deal no questions asked – this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
So let the season play out. If Helton can’t produce the wins then let’s see who really is the right fit – not the sexy fit.