Kliff Kingsbury was the offensive coordinator for USC under Clay Helton and former athletic director Lynn Swann … for a few minutes.
Kingsbury flew to Arizona to don some red wings with the Cardinals before he ever called a play for the Trojans. The inability to actually retain Kingsbury after hiring him was a reflection of the extent to which the USC program suffered under the previous regime, before new AD Mike Bohn came to Los Angeles. Keep in mind that USC reached New Year's Six bowls in 2016 and 2017 because of Sam Darnold. The Trojans won the Pac-12 championship in 2017. Even then - in spite of those accomplishments - Kingsbury didn't view USC as a place he had to stay, not even for one year.
Now Kingsbury is a free agent in the coaching world. He will get a fat check from the Cardinals for the next several years, so he might just try to sit on a hammock and relax in 2023 and come back fresh for 2024. However, if he wants to coach somewhere, he will certainly have some options.
Let's look at Kliff Kingsbury's coaching options and then move to a discussion of various ways USC can honor Charles White this season. It's a USC and college football offseason notebook.
Let's dive in:
KINGSBURY TO SABAN
Sep 3, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban (left) shakes hands with USC Trojans head coach Clay Helton (right) after the game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
It's the scenario no one in the Southeastern Conference wants to see: Kliff Kingsbury joining Nick Saban at Alabama now that Bill O'Brien, Saban's most recent offensive coordinator, has been hired by Bill Belichick to work with the New England Patriots. Lots of Bama fans wanted O'Brien gone, which is understandable, given that Bama's offense wasn't nearly as good the past two seasons after Steve Sarkisian left following the 2020 national championship season in which the Tide scored an average of over 48 points per game.
We will see if Saban can convince Kingsbury to work for him, if only for one year. If Alabama wants to prevent Georgia from winning a third straight national championship, this move might do the trick.
What about Kingsbury's other options, though? Let's go through a few particularly interesting ones:
KINGSBURY TO THE RAMS
Nov 29, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay (right) talks with San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan before the game at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Imagine Sean McVay and Kliff Kingsbury working together in the NFC West against the Cardinals, Kingsbury's former team, and against NFC West veterans Pete Carroll in Seattle and Kyle Shanhan in San Francisco. That would be spicy. Would this be Kingsbury's best NFL move? He's not going to be a head coach, only a coordinator. We have to sort through the other elements of the NFL head coaching carousel.
IF BEN JOHNSON LEAVES THE DETROIT LIONS
Sep 11, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) scores and celebrates a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half at Ford Field.
Ben Johnson is the in-demand offensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions. He has interviewed for NFL head coaching jobs. If he gets a head coaching job, the Lions' offensive coordinator spot will be open. Kingsbury has Amon-Ra St. Brown and a lot of other luminous talents to call plays for if that job comes open. It's a very intriguing plot point in the carousel. The Lions frankly need to retain Ben Johnson, but if they lose him, Kingsbury becomes an obvious possibility.
DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMBER 25: Russell Wilson #3 of the Denver Broncos is hit by Drake Jackson #95 of the San Francisco 49ers as he throws a pass during the first half at Empower Field At Mile High on September 25, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
If Sean Payton does not go to Denver, the Broncos' new head coach could view Kingsbury as a high-end offensive coordinator to help Russell Wilson. Kingsbury coached against Wilson for several seasons, so he certainly understands what makes Wilson good (and not so good). Game-planning to stop Wilson might make Kingsbury uniquely qualified to coach Wilson toward the end of the quarterback's career.
That's if Sean Payton doesn't land in the Mile High City.
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - DECEMBER 27: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens gets off a pass while being pressured by linebacker Carter Coughlin #49 and defensive end Leonard Williams #99 of the New York Giants at M&T Bank Stadium on December 27, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Lamar Jackson needs a new offensive coordinator in Baltimore after Greg Roman stepped away. Hello, Kliff Kingsbury.
CHARLES WHITE TRIBUTE IDEAS
Jan 1, 1980, Pasadena, CA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Southern California Trojans running back Charles White (12) carries the ball against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the 1980 Rose Bowl at Rose Bowl Stadium. The Trojans defeated the Buckeyes 17-16. Mandatory Credit: Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
There are lots of ways USC can honor Charles White during the 2023 season, and to be sure, it won't be limited to one.
Let's start here: a moment of silence before the season opener on August 26 against San Jose State. Something simple but profound. USC shouldn't have an overly fancy ceremony on a day when the weather is likely to be miserable and the crowd won't be huge. Save that for a bigger date in 2023.
CHARLES WHITE BIG CEREMONIES
University of Sothern California's Charles White is tackled by University of California Los Angeles' Levi Armstrong in UCLA-USC football action Friday November 25, 1977 in Los Angeles. USC went on to win 29-27 by a field goal in the last two seconds of the game. (AP Photo/George Brich)
USC should have a big, lavish ceremony before the Utah game on October 21. The weather will be pleasant. An elite TV broadcast crew will be on hand. The Coliseum will be packed. That's the time to do it up right.
Tailback Charles White (12) of USC Trojans steps his way through the defense of UCLA, including UCLA's Jeff Muro (81) during the third quarter for seven yards in Los Angeles, Calif., Nov. 18, 1978. White became USC's all-time leader in rushing carrying the Trojans to a 17-10 victory over UCLA for a spot in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1979. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
USC should do something to specifically honor Charles White before the UCLA game, as an attempt to consciously honor USC's football heritage and tradition before the game which matters most to Trojans everywhere. What USC does is less important than the larger fact that it does something.
There are other specific things USC can do, however, to honor White over the course of the season.
NO. 12 PATCHES ON JERSEYS
Charles White - Getty Images
This is an easy one: Every USC player jersey has a No. 12 patch. Done deal.
NO. 12 PAINTED ON THE COLISEUM TURF
Nov 26, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; The Southern California Trojans SC logo at midfield at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
No. 12 painted in gold, inside a cardinal circle, at the two 25-yard lines in the Coliseum. Who says no?
A No. 12 could also be painted in the end zones in addition to the 25-yard lines. Charles White certainly entered that Coliseum end zone a lot of times.
Nov 24, 1979; Los Angeles, CA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Southern California wide reciver Kevin Williams (12) carries the ball against the UCLA Bruins at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Long Photography-USA TODAY Sports
Throwback 1979 USC jerseys all season long. We gotta do this to honor Charles White in 2023.
FIRST USC OFFENSIVE PLAY OF 2023 SEASON VS SAN JOSE STATE
Nov 26, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley watches game action against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the first half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
USC and Lincoln Riley can afford to do this:
I formation on the first offensive play of the season. Fullback. Tailback.
Student Body Right.
RECRUITING/PORTAL UPDATE: OFFENSE
Sep 18, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators offensive lineman Ethan White (77) against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Adding offensive lineman Ethan White solidifies the Trojans' O-line for 2023. Justin Dedich returns and joins a lot of recruits and portal pickups. USC is at or close to having two-deep quality across the whole offensive front. The Trojans will be deeper this year than they were last year. With the skill positions being absolutely loaded, there is simply not much to complain about with the offense.
RECRUITING/PORTAL UPDATE: DEFENSE
Oklahoma State Cowboys linebacker Mason Cobb (0) celebrates during a college football game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys (OSU) and the University of Texas Longhorns at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022. Oklahoma State won 41-34.
Mason Cobb in the portal, plus Tackett Curtis on the recruiting trail, will fortify USC's linebackers, easily the best position group on the Trojans' 2023 defense. Unmet needs still exist mostly on the defensive line and also in the secondary. These are the two position groups where USC still need more bodies - and more quality - heading into spring ball.
Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire