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Weiner Mailbag: USC’s New Coach, Losing a Top Recruit, and Korey Foreman

Posted on November 18, 2021

  By Matt Weiner, SuperWest Sports

I was hoping my first USC mailbag column would revolve around USC’s matchup against UCLA this Saturday.

First I’d throw some rocks at Chip Kelly’s embarrassing tenure and conclude with their downward spiral since they beat LSU in their “sissy blue shirts.”

Instead, as I should have expected, the electronic envelopes in my virtual mailbag contained questions about the Trojans future—appropriately enough—as they have already decided to mail it in with three games left in the season.

Without further ado, let’s rejoice in predicting the unpredictable.

Clay Helton looks on his team turns the ball on downs against the UCLA | Keith Birmingham/Digital First Media/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

Question: Who do you think the Trojans will hire as their new coach? I’m worried we’ll end up with another Helton. Who would be your pick?

—Mike, Inglewood, CA

Like Mike, I am also worried that USC will end up with another Helton. I’m also worried that the Trojans will end up with another Steve Skarksisian and Lane Kiffin debacle.

After Pete Carrol, the Trojans have compiled so many ugly divorces it’s like the “C” in USC stands for Charlie Sheen. Nonetheless, the Trojans are on the market with an empty ring finger, and looking to explore until their heart’s content.

However, there is an astronomical difference between “Who do I think they will hire?” and “Who would I pick to be hired?”

One involves logic and the other involves a stirring of the imagination. The tiny compartment in my brain labeled “logic” is telling me that the media won’t get an accurate gage of this until the season is over.

There are phone calls being placed to coaches every hour, but you won’t hear a peep from them about this. They will diplomatically deny all speculation in pressers.

This isn’t a juicy answer, but until a coach stakes his flag and says he is interested then my ears won’t perk up. Tracking coaches’ flights is one way to speculate about it, but that’s a shot in the dark because they could be flying into LAX for a recruiting visit.

Now for the “who would I pick to be hired?” How about Baylor head coach Dave Aranda?

It’s like Robert Saleh (2019 49ers defensive coordinator version) became vegan and decided to live in Waco, Texas while being contractually obligated to wear lemon and lime polos and hoodies.

Aranda is head and shoulders above the current pool of coaches, such as Luke Fickell, James Franklin, Urban Meyer, Matt Campbell or Ed Orgeron.

He was crowned the darling child of the past weekend after spoiling playoff dreams of the undefeated Oklahoma Sooners.

Am I impulsively professing my love because I responsibly had Baylor money line?

Possibly, but the entire game plan looked perfectly crafted from start to finish. Entering that game, Oklahoma had put up 55 points in their last 3 of 4 games, and Caleb Williams looked to be the perfect replacement for Spencer Rattler.

Aranda had the Bears defense turn Williams from perfect to questionably pedestrian. He went 10-of-19 for 146 yards with two picks and the offense ended up with 14 points on the day. But 7 of those 14 came when the game was already decided.

Beyond the gridiron, he allowed Baylor fans to partake in an activity that feels alien to Trojan fans. Rush the field.

This came with a bit of controversy because fans rushed with one second left so they had to shooed off the field momentarily, but ended up for an even better moment as he kicked a field goal in Lincoln Riley’s face.

A perfectly sculpted moment that made me buy in.

Baylor is Aranda’s first head coaching job and after going 2-7 in his first season last year, he has gone 8-2 in this season.

He’s a spring chicken compared to other coaches in the pool, like Urban Meyer and James Franklin, who have coached 100-plus games apiece, but a lack of experience doesn’t bother me after Kiffin and Sarkisian tenures.

After this season, my standards have plummeted to depths man doesn’t have technology to measure, so any improvement would be warmly welcomed.

But there is one requirement to make me hop aboard or jump ship, which leads me to the next question…

Domani Jackson, a cornerback from Mater Dei HS (CA), was the highest-rated Pac-12 recruit before his decommitment from USC. |

Question: Now that we’ve lost our best recruit, how many others do you expect to leave? Thanks.

—Bradley, Brea, CA

The recruit referred to in this question is of course 5-star cornerback Domani Jackson from Mater Dei high school, who announced his decommitment from USC on November 14th, in the following Tweet:

“It’s Dark and Hell is Hot” is the title of DMX’s debut album and an accurate depiction of USC’s recruiting woes.

Trojan fans are understandably frustrated by his decision, but every part of Jackson’s reasoning behind it makes sense.

“There are a lot of unknowns with USC right now and I don’t know who is going to be back.”

He also stated that he wanted to sign during the Early Signing Period, and USC most likely won’t name a head coach by then.

Jackson is far and away the best recruit, so when Helton got fired it felt like I was always waiting for the “Respect my decision” tweet.

Not only do I respect his decision, but if I was in his or any other USC commit’s circle of trust, I’d also suggest they run the other way.

Only time will tell if ESPN Top 300 recruits such as Devin Brown, Jaeden Gould, Ephesians Prysock, and Fabian Ross stay the course as well.

The only slap-in-the-face decommitment from this crop would be Prysock, who committed a week after the beatdown from Stafford that ultimately got Helton canned.

I’ve attended every home game besides the Stanford loss this year, and there is nothing about the current environment that says, “Hey big time recruit, you should go to USC instead of Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State and hell maybe even Cincinnati.”

The only appeal to recruits is that they would be the jaws of life to pull USC out of this current car crash.

USC Freshman Korey Foreman has limited by an AC joint sprain in his shoulder this season. | John McCoy/Associated Press

Question: What’s the deal with Korey Foreman? Wasn’t he supposed to be the next Kayvon Thibodeaux?

—Del, Laughlin, Nevada

Time to wrap up the mailbag with the only question that has me tilted. Thanks for the question Del, but “Wasn’t he supposed to be the next_____?” is a recruiting take that makes my eyes roll back in a flash.

Players like Kayvon Thibodeaux don’t grow on trees; in fact, they come around once every two or three leap years, if you’re lucky.

I take that back. If you can find a guy who can hit in the same league as Thibodeaux, you are blessed. Modestly speaking, he’s a Top 5 future NFL Draft pick, and brings the same electricity as Chase Young.

Also, Foreman is a freshman. Yes, you expect him to dominate like Thibodeaux did in his freshman season, but very rarely does that happen.

Coming in as third in the ESPN 300 builds lofty expectations, but give him at least a season-and-a-half to start thinking about throwing the bust label on him.

There is also the possibility that DC Todd Orlando’s scheme doesn’t jive with his play, and a coaching turnover could present more prospering opportunities for him.

Thanks for the questions and keep them coming in!

—More from Matt Weiner—
Matt Weiner