If the 2020 season is able to commence, there are many Pac-12 coaches that have a lot to prove. The conference simply is not taken as seriously as the other Power 5 conferences nationally. However, young quarterbacks and coaches with something to prove may be the perfect recipe for the Pac-12 to get a representative in the College Football Playoff for the first time since 2016.
Clay Helton Tops Pac-12 Coaches On Fans’ Hot Seat
Saying Clay Helton’s name to USC fans may invoke a variety of emotions. USC sees their program as the premier program in the Pac-12 Conference. Many of their fans believe that Helton is not upholding that standard. J.T. Daniels just transferred to Georgia, which makes Kedon Slovis the presumed starter entering the 2020 season.
Slovis showed signs of being the quarterback that could restore faith in the USC program. He set the NCAA freshman record with a 71.8 percent completion percentage in 2019. A touchdown-interception ratio of 30:9 should be enough for fans to be optimistic about their team, but fans are so distraught about who the current coach is.
On Unafraid Show’s Pac-12 Apostles podcast, hosted by George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden, they talked about how it seems the USC athletic department wants to keep Clay Helton around. The fans want Clay Helton out, and 2020 may be the last season for the embattled head coach at USC. Fans want to have a proven head coach who they believe can restore the glory days when Pete Carroll was the head coach (without the controversy, of course). Look for USC to make a push to hire Urban Meyer if things do not pan out with Clay Helton this season.
Chip Kelly Must Prove Himself at UCLA
Chip Kelly was looked at as a mastermind during his time as Oregon head coach from 2009-2012. People refer to him as one of the coaches who helped revolutionize the college game. However, he flamed out in the NFL with the Eagles and 49ers, and has struggled to set his footing thus far at UCLA.
Even though the Bruins were 4-8 this past season, they did have their moments. They came back from a 32-point deficit against Washington State in Pullman to win 67-63. They also had an 18-point road win at Stanford. If Kelly is able to get more consistency out of his football team, UCLA could be on the upswing. Still, Kelly has to show progress this season though.
Herm Edwards Must Win Big At Arizona State With Jayden Daniels at QB
Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels is looked at as a possible Heisman Trophy contender in 2020. Herm Edwards is struggling to recruit within the state of Arizona, so he has to show possible talent within the state that the school is the place to go within the state.
With how the rest of the Pac-12 Conference is shaping up this season, it may be the Sun Devils’ division to lose. Their November 21 game against Utah in Tempe may play a huge role in deciding the Pac-12 South. Arizona State will have chances to place themselves in the ranks of the elite Pac-12 schools if they are able to pull off possible upsets at USC in September and at Oregon in November.
David Shaw Must Avoid Second Straight Losing Season
David Shaw is regarded as one of the top coaches in the Pac-12. Still, the Cardinal ended the season on a four-game losing streak to finish 4-8. Stanford needs to start the season off well, as they have three Pac-12 games in September after a Week 1 tune-up against William & Mary. Stanford does not have that program-defining player on the roster currently. Andrew Luck, Christian McCaffrey, and Bryce Love elevated their teams at points. It will be interesting to see if someone can take on this responsibility on offense for the Cardinal. If not, it may be more of the same as 2019 for Stanford.
Pac-12 Coaches Will Lead To Conference Improving
The Pac-12 conference as a whole will improve if these coaches are able to take steps in the right direction next season. The conference needs to take steps to be in the national conversation more as far as a College Football Playoff berth is concerned. There are young talents that could have Heisman consideration this season in Kedon Slovis and Jayden Daniels. The conference should be able to get into the national conversation because of talented players and coaches improving.