When USC athletic director Lynn Swann made the surprising decision to keep embattled coach Clay Helton despite a dreadful 5-7 season, more than a few eyebrows went up. Then it became clear that the plan was to bring in Kliff Kingsbury to revitalize the offense. His good looks, effortless charm, and Air Raid sensibilities would surely right the ship. Positivity reigned. New year, new team, endless possibilities.
As rumors of his interest in NFL coaching gigs swirled, Helton and other Trojans remained confident that Kingsbury would be on campus next year, helping USC find relevance in the Pac-12.
Truth and time reveal all, and Kingsbury has opted for greener, er, more arid pastures in the desert with the Arizona Cardinals. Like so many promises to improve oneself in the new year, this one’s come crashing down before it could ever really take flight.
What now for USC, behind the embarrassment? And did Kingsbury really have to go to the Cardinals, where he’ll mold a former UCLA Bruin in Josh Rosen? Did he have to make it personal?
Obviously, coaching an NFL team is far superior to coaching 1/3 of a college team. Kingsbury’s choice makes a lot of sense, no matter what one thinks of honor and keeping a promise. That’s of little solace to USC, who must now find help for Helton late in the market.
They played with the red-hot name and got burned. It’s back to the drawing board with some balm and trepidation.
Not a great place to be.