Back in September, USC fired former head coach Clay Helton following a 42-28 loss to Stanford at home. Interim head coach Donte Williams has been leading the Trojans ever since, and currently holds an overall record of 3-3.
As USC continues their national search for their next head coach, several names continue to circulate around the coaching carousel. Here are All Trojans top three candidates halfway through the 2021 season.
No. 1 - James Franklin, Penn State
Franklin has led No. 7 Penn State to a current 5-1 record this season. The teams only loss this year came against Iowa by three points. Franklin is also a master recruiter, which is one trait the Trojans are looking for.
Penn State currently sits at No. 2 overall for their 2022 recruiting class, with several four and five star talents committed. The Nittany Lions' head coach also clinched a Big Ten title in 2016, and has proven success building a program from the bottom up.
No. 2 - Luke Fickell, Cincinnati
Cincinnati’s program had gradually improved since Fickell took over as the head coach in 2017. Halfway through the 2021 season, the Bearcats are undefeated, and are No. 2 in the AP Top 25. Interestingly enough, USC athletic director Mike Bohn was the one to hire Fickell back at Cincinnati. Fickell’s proud Ohio family might be one major concern holding him back from a potential job in Los Angeles.
No. 3. - Mel Tucker, Michigan State
After finishing just 2-5 last season, Tucker is off to a 7-0 start in his second season with the Spartans. The rebuild Tucker has done in a short period of time could be attractive to USC, as it's one thing the program seriously needs.
Back in 2000, he served as a defensive backs coach with LSU. He joined Michigan State after just one season with Colorado (2019). Tucker has been known as a strong recruiter, which again would definitely serve value at USC.