Mike Bohn’s plan: clean the USC athletics before tackling football


Wonder of wonders, maybe the USC athletic department really has a plan.

Miracle of miracles, maybe Mike Bohn really knows what he is doing.

A few hours after the former Trojan Ed Orgeron won a national championship somewhere else, and a few days after the famous Brian Kennedy booster calling the football program, “dog …”, maybe USC finally got something right .

The seemingly ominous narrative that began last month with the amazing retention of soccer coach Clay Helton entered a clearer and brighter approach on Tuesday when, reportedly, other lifelong Trojans were swept away.

Three of the most important athletic officials of the USC left the university, separated, resigned, dismissed, whatever, in what could be the first stage of a remodel that could eventually reach the football team.

Gone are Steve Lopes, Chief Financial Officer and Director of Operations for a long time, Ron Orr, associate and veteran athletic director and Director Jacob Scottson.

Over time, new voices will take place that will bring new ideas to the culture of the USC.

If Helton stumbles in the fall, it is those voices that will help create and foster a progressive atmosphere that the Trojans hope to attract the best and brightest candidates for training.

Call this the house cleaning before cleaning the house.

People familiar with the thinking of USC believe that this is the plan, anyway.

Bohn was not available for comment, but it seems that his plan is focusing, even if it was initially executed quite awkwardly and in the midst of great outrage.

It turns out that Bohn retained Helton not only for money worries, the purchase of $ 20 million was clearly a factor, but also for environmental concerns.

Bohn didn’t want to bring a new coach until he cleaned the toxic surroundings. Since the USC is the only school that both FBI college athletic probes focused on in the last 18 months, I didn’t want a new coach to have to be suddenly struck with questions about legal issues beyond his control.

The university focused particularly on ridding the school of any official with possible or alleged participation in the university admission scandal.

The goal of the university to get federals out of their athletic offices cannot be overstated. That has always been his first priority. That’s why they hired Bohn. His first job was not to clean the football team, but to clean the athletic department.

“You can’t run a program if you don’t have integrity,” said Carol L. Folt, president of the USC, in an interview last fall with Ryan Kartje of The Times.

Bohn saw Helton’s situation through that lens. In terms of the entire makeover of the athletic department, Helton was actually one of the minor problems.

Before making a training change, Bohn wanted to make an infrastructure change. He felt he needed a revitalized department before enlisting a new coach. I didn’t want a new coach to suffocate in the old mentality of the USC that allowed the program to deteriorate. I wanted to give a new coach a fighting chance.

So Bohn decided to stay with Helton for at least one more season, probably just one more season, while concentrating on fixing everything around him.

Bohn surely had no idea of ​​the fury that would unleash that decision. He undoubtedly underestimated the passion that burns within the Trojan family.

But I wasn’t going to take a new coach into a chaotic and unstable situation. And, just for the record, according to USC people familiar with the situation, Urban Meyer was never considered, nor will it be considered; It’s that integrity thing.

So Bohn saved $ 20 million and took the heat and stuck to his plan. Tuesday was the first big step. Surely there will be other steps. Employees with any type of luggage will be removed. New faces will arrive. One now wonders if coach Andy Enfield of the basketball program touched by the scandal will survive.

Everything is close to the next football season, when the team will be surrounded by new administrators, new ideas, two important new positional coaches and, the USC expects, a refreshing absence of scandal.

Suddenly, the job of a USC football coach could be good again. Only then, the Trojans could perhaps attract a superior candidate again.

Certainly, Helton and his team could challenge the odds and have an excellent season. But he has an incredibly short belt, here he is guessing that the Trojans would need to win the Pac-12 Conference championship so he has some chance to save his job.

If Helton was removed this winter as most people wanted, even in this space, the next guy would be in the middle of prolonged agitation that could be a recipe for failure.

If Helton is removed next season, the athletic department would be in a perfect position to prepare for the new kind of support and success.

Okay, I keep saying that Bohn could have made a coach change and found someone special and that the new boy could have suffered a little chaos and finally enjoy the help of a revived athletic department.

But in this way it could also work.


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