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O/NSO: Prejudging the hires edition

The Obvious: The college football world is historically filled with former outstanding assistant coaches that once they became head coaches didn’t fulfill the promise.

The Not So Obvious: As it applies to the recent Clay Helton hires of former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury (photo above) as his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and former Bowling Green head coach Mike Jinks as running backs coach, both were fired this past season at their former places of employment. Does that make them unqualified to return to the assistant coaching ranks? Absolutely not. The O/NSO reminds that Kingsbury was given a number of options after his firing from Texas Tech because of his offensive expertise, and certainly the Los Angeles Rams and other NFLers liked what they saw from Kliff on that side of the ball. As for Jinks, he had a solid reputation as a running backs coach, and there is no reason to believe he has lost any of those teaching skills because of his stint as a head coach.

The Obvious: Norm Chow is a former highly successful Trojans’ offensive coordinator, but it did not translate into success when Dr. Chow was the former head coach at Hawaii.

The Not So Obvious: Despite his failure in his only opportunity as a college head coach, it certainly shouldn’t diminish Chow’s accomplishments as one of the all-time great offensive coordinators and play-callers. In fact, there are those that feel that Chow would have been an excellent consultant to Clay Helton this past season if given the opportunity. Of course, that’s assuming that Gentleman Clay would have been receptive to the idea.

The Obvious: The USC Trojans officially announced this week that former Boise State defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a has replaced Kenechi Udeze, who was dismissed earlier this month.

The Not So Obvious: The new Trojans’ defensive line coach came up through the coaching ranks by initiating his career as the former head coach at Baldwin High in Wailuku, Hawaii. For those that need a geography lesson, Wailuku is located on the island of Maui. Baldwin High has traditionally been never shy about hosting prep powers from Southern California.

The Obvious: The personable Mike Jinks has officially been named the 2019 USC Trojans’ running back coach.

The Not So Obvious: As previously reported, Jinks was a former running backs coach for new Trojans’ offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury when the new USC OC was the head coach at Texas Tech. Like new Trojans’ D-line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a, Jinks also began his head coaching career at the high school head coach level, guiding Burbank High School in San Antonio, Texas in 2005. It should be noted that Mike then accepted a new challenge by becoming the head coach for Steele High School in Cibolo, Texas eight months before the school was initially opened. Jinks led Steele to victory in the 2010 Class 5A Division II Texas state championship. In 2011, Jinks’ team made it to the finals of the Class 5A Division II state championship before losing to Spring Dekaney HS.

The Obvious: Both Chad Kauha’aha’a and Mike Jinks have mentored former standout collegiate players.

The Not So Obvious: Chad Kauha’aha’a is a former defensive line coach at Utah (2011-2012) and was mentor to All-Pac-12 defensive lineman Star Lotulelei who was also the Morris Trophy winner as the Pac-12’s top defensive lineman. Mike Jinks was the former Texas Tech running backs coach that produced Oakland Raiders running back DeAndre Washington.

The Obvious: Social media moves faster in disseminating new information and announcements than the official news agencies.

The Not So Obvious: Before the official announcement on the hiring of D-line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a, Kauha’aha’a announced his move from Boise State to USC by changing his Twitter bio to a “SC football” logo. Well, that’s one way of putting the cart before the horse.

The Obvious: With the early December signing period drawing closer, the Trojans have still not named a secondary coach.

The Not So Obvious: Of all the replacements during this assistant coaching staff reconstitution, the secondary coach may be as important as any. The O/NSO says that this is not just about finding the best candidate, but somebody who will not rock Clancy Pendergast’s boat. Nothing wrong with finding somebody you feel comfortable working with as long as that person is the most qualified of the eligible candidates.

The Obvious: It is generally excepted that when recruiting a player, the most important recruiting target besides the player is the player’s mama.

The Not So Obvious: Here is a classic example coming from the mother of both current and future Trojans, Abdul -Malik McClain and Munir McClain (San Juan Capistrano, Calif./J Serra), respectively. Shan McClain, mother of Abdul-Malik and Munir, recently tweeted out, “Winning on & off the field is what it’s all about. USC has the greatest business Network in the country. Think Long Term.” Never was there greater advice.

The Obvious: And finally, there are only a handful of colleges and universities that can go through coaching tumult like the Trojans and still rise from the recruiting dead to finish with a flurry.  

The Not So Obvious: Right now, understandably, there seems to be some cardinal and gold panic regarding the Trojans’ 2019 recruiting class. The O/NSO believes that when the dust has settled, however, the Trojans will give a give a good account of themselves although admittedly it may not be a typical Top 10 class. The USC brand remains strong, and that brand includes the understanding by recruits that networking after a football career with a USC degree can be matched nationally by only a select group of storied programs.

Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.

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