USC coach Steve Sarkasian was fired last weekend when news of the depth of his drinking issues got out.
This created the question, who will replace him? Texas A&M's coach Kevin Sumlin is near the top of the list of real candidates.
USC is one of the top 3-5 football jobs in the college ranks, up there with Ohio State and Texas. The money USC can pay matches anything any other school can offer and the being able to have the lead recruiting position in southern California ---a talent-rich area of 27 Million people with only 3 collegiate FBS teams makes the job immensely appealing.
If you think you can coach, the USC job is a tempting one. Especially today.
USC came off probation a few years ago. Their last four years' recruiting classes were ranked 11th, 10th, 9th, and 2nd. That is national title contention level talent. The talent was recruited to man a pass happy offense.
USC had discussions with Sumlin last time which suggests they probably will again this time. Sumlin is more of a proven commodity today.
Sumlin in a top recruiter who has taken A&M from their traditional range of 15th to 30th ranked recruiting classes to dominating the state with classes in the national title contention range (top 12). He recruits Texas and Arizona blue chippers very well --- a skill that could make him an annual top 5 recruiting class coach at USC.
The question becomes, what makes him tick?
A lot of speculation on Sumlin is that he will be at Texas A&M until the NFL comes calling. If the NFL is his desired goal, staying at A&M in the interim could be a viable option. He can likely continue to maintain top 10-12 recruiting classes at Texas A&M indefinitely, even with Charlie Strong chipping away at Texas recruits.
He can win 8-11 games a year at TAMU which is far more than Aggie fans demand from their coaches. TAMU in turn will pay him pretty much anything he wants to try to keep him.
The thing is, there is a real chance that a smart coach like Sumlin may see the limitations of the Aggie job that Aggie boosters do not acknowledge.
The reality is that a portion of TAMU's recent recruiting success can be attributed to mismanagement of the Big 12 and UT's reluctance to force Mack Brown out when the game passed him by (as it does every coach). The latter condition has already been corrected and the former may be corrected some time soon. (Should OU get their way and Houston, lead by coach Tom Herman ---another ace recruiter with a brilliant offensive mind --- is admitted, Sumlin and A&M may see their Houston recruiting chipped away and experience a tumble back to their traditional recruiting level.)
College station is not every recruit's cup of tea. While it is great to play in front of the big crowds of the SEC, the pro-military culture of A&M has always been a limiting factor on Aggie recruiting that UT doesn't have.
Toss in Baylor and TCU's success (a higher level than A&M's each year) with similar high power offenses as a future limiter on Aggie recruiting and having to survive the brutal SEC West to make the playoffs, and one can certainly understand if Sumlin decides to chose what appears to be an easier route to the playoffs and a national title game each year as the coach at USC.
There is little to suggest TCU and Baylor's recruiting is not ramping up and that each cannot stay in the 1-2 loss level indefinitely in a conference that has depth issues at a lot of their schools. TAMU may be smoking UT currently, but at the end of the day there is little to suggest they will pass Baylor's and TCU's end of season records most years. Is coaching Texas's #3 football power really better than coaching at USC?
Why stay at TAMU if it means Sumlin's team may only make the playoffs once a decade in a division with Alabama, LSU, and Auburn, plus other high level recruiting teams Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida waiting to knock off the Aggies in the SEC title game?
One would think the USC job with a top 5 class each year would equate to making the playoffs at least a third of the time.
The situation bears watching.