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USC Trojans head coach search updates: Kansas City Chiefs assistant Eric Bieniemy being bandied about

Sportsnaut
Sportsnaut
 2021-09-14

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The USC Trojans decision to fire head coach Clay Helton following an ugly loss to the Stanford Cardinal last weekend can’t be considered too much of a surprise.

Helton took over in Los Angeles to much fanfare back in 2013, only to struggle returning the program to national relevance. He finished his tenure with the Trojans boasting a mediocre (by their standards) 46-24 record.

We previously focused on some potential candidates to replace Helton with the USC Trojans . Below, we’ll update rumors as it relates to one of the biggest head coach openings in college football in some time.

Eric Bieniemy a candidate for USC Trojans job?

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Aug 20, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) hugs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy during the second half of the game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter , the expectation is that this Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator will in fact be a candidate for the vacancy in Southern California.

A star running back during his collegiate playing days at Colorado (1987-1990), the 52-year-old Bieniemy was a candidate for multiple head-coaching openings this past NFL offseason. Unfortunately, he was unable to land a gig after helping lead Kansas City to back-to-back AFC championships while overseeing the maturation of Patrick Mahomes under center.

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Bieniemy does have some ties to Southern California. He was a second-round pick of the then-San Diego Chargers back in 1991 and played four seasons with the team.

The highly-regarded coach also spent three seasons overseeing the running back position with the UCLA Bruins (2003-05). In terms of his highest level of college coaching experience, Bieniemy was the offensive coordinator for Colorado in 2011 and 2012.

Other candidates emerge for USC Trojans job

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Sep 11, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin stands on the field during a warm up prior to the game against the Ball State Cardinals at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

Another recent report from Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports shows an extensive list of potential candidates for the job, both in the pros and at the collegiate level.

This list is headlined by Penn State’s James Franklin, Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck and former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops.

It might be hard for USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn to pry Franklin away from Happy Valley. In reality, the Nittany Lions’ job might be seen as more appealing than the Trojans’ opening.

As for Matt Campbell, NFL teams had shown interest in him as a head-coaching candidate over the past couple cycles. He just recently signed an extension with the Cyclones.

Of this group, O’Brien might be the biggest name circulating on the rumor mill. The former Penn State head coach struggled in seven seasons as the Houston Texans’ head man before being fired during the 2020 season. He’s currently serving as Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator with the Alabama Crimson Tide. That seems to be a stopover for O’Brien as he attempts to build up his stock.

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Overall, the interesting dynamic here is that those who have been linked to the USC Trojans’ job since Helton’s firing don’t necessarily have a relationship with the football program. That seems to indicate a change up in philosophy from the powers that be within the program.

We’re highly intrigued to see in what direction this coaching search goes. For now, big names have been the name of the game. Whether that remains the case moving forward remains to be seen. Bookmark this page for continued updates on what’s happening in Los Angeles.

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