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Friday, December 3, 2021

USC Soccer Coaching Search: Where Candidates Stand As They Enter the New School Carousel

On Sunday the coaching carousel got a little overcrowded. Florida joined USC and other ranks of schools in the search for a new head coach after Dan Mullen was sacked after losing overtime to Missouri.

The Gators are another major, lucrative opening, joining LSU and the Trojans’ Pac-12 rivals Washington and Washington State seeking new leaders for their programs.

These recent openings confirm that it was a good idea for USC to fire Clay Helton as soon as possible.

Athletic Director Mike Bohn and Chief of Staff Brandon Sosna have an additional two months to conduct a coaching search by making changes in September. Other schools are just beginning the process, but USC’s Head Start gives Trojans a chance to conduct background checks, run a long list of potential candidates, and discuss them with agents beforehand.

That doesn’t mean schools like LSU and Florida aren’t competitive with USC for talent, though. Here’s a look at some potential USC candidates and whether they might fit into competing schools:

Dave Aranda, Ballorro

Before taking over the Bears in 2020, Aranda was the defensive coordinator at LSU during the Tigers’ 2019 national championship run. This sparked many speculations about Aranda replacing Ed Orgeron in Baton Rouge. But LSU athletic director Scott Woodward is a big fish hunter; He is the man who persuaded Jimbo Fisher to leave the state of Florida for Texas A&M. So would he want to hire a coach with only two years’ experience running a program? And it’s not like Aranda has any ties at USC after being interviewed for the Trojans’ defensive coordinator position after the 2019 season.

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Matt Campbell, Iowa State

Campbell has no affiliation with these competing universities; He has spent his entire career in the Midwest and it remains to be seen whether he sees himself fit into the SEC or even the Pac-12 at a school like USC.

Luke Fikel, Cincinnati

Like Campbell, Fikel is a Midwest lifer, though he is even more distinctive in that he has never coached outside of Ohio State. That’s why many speculate he’d be hesitant to leave Cincinnati—he turned down a Michigan state job in 2020—anywhere other than his alma mater, Ohio State.

James Franklin, Penn State

Franklin has SEC experience, which would be a plus at LSU and Florida. After all, if he can make Vanderbilt into the top 25, you have to imagine he can have more success with deeper resources at SEC programs. But Franklin’s 11-9 record over the past two years could intimidate programs like USC and others.

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