Urban Meyer has retired from coaching, and everyone in college football is waiting to see if this one sticks. You can forgive people for being skeptical. We’ve done this before, after all, when Meyer walked away from Florida after the 2010 season, only to resurface at Ohio State in 2012.
We’ve all seen how heavy all the stresses of coaching big-time college football weigh on Urban, as at times it seems like his players’ dropped passes and missed tackles are literally killing him. But, like any dysfunctional relationship, Urban can’t live without college football, either.
Or, at least he hasn’t proven otherwise yet.
Among those skeptical this breakup will stick are Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart. The 2005 Heisman winner told the Los Angeles Times‘ Arash Markazi he’ll partner with the 2004 Heisman winner to recruit Meyer to USC if such a recruitment proves necessary.
In the second note of today's column, Reggie Bush tells me he and Matt Leinart would try to get Urban Meyer to coach at USC if the Trojans struggle again.
“We’ll definitely be recruiting him,” Bush said. “What makes you think we won’t be recruiters? Nothing is off the table.” https://t.co/xaDbaOHDpp
— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) April 25, 2019
This isn’t idle talk from Bush. He, Leinart and Meyer will work together, each and every Saturday, as members of Fox’s college football studio show.
“With a head coach that won three national titles in 10 years, two of the most successful college quarterbacks in recent memory and one of the sport’s most electric running backs, our new college football pregame show has the game covered from all angles,” Fox Sports president Mark Silverman said in March. “Not only will this all-star cast resonate with viewers because of their recent on-field accomplishments, but this group is going to have a lot of fun discussing the games each week.”
Setting aside the question of whether or not Urban would actually want to coach USC is that, well, USC already has a coach, and his name is Clay Helton.
A long-term interim that got the full-time job in 2015, Helton’s first two full seasons as USC’s head coach saw the Trojans win the Rose Bowl and the Pac-12 in successive seasons yet, fair or not, Helton was never more than begrudgingly accepted by the USC fan base. Last year’s 5-7 season ended any pretense — many, if not most, USC fans want Helton gone, and the administration was at least thinking about giving them what they wanted, evidenced by the Nov. 25 announcement that Helton would be retained for the 2019 season.
“Clay Helton is our head coach and he will continue to be our head coach.”
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) November 25, 2018
Helton will clearly coach 2019 on the hot seat, a seat so hot that two semi-recent Heisman winners are apparently gathering forces to recruit his replacement.
That type of reality can either allow Helton to rally his forces and create an us-against-the-world mentality in the locker room — who saw the Trojans winning nine straight and finishing No. 3 in the AP poll after 2016’s 1-3 start? — or it can snowball and overwhelm the entire season if the team does not start well.
Clay Helton is coaching for his job in 2019. Not even one of his employer’s most prominent alumni feels the need to talk around it anymore.