Southern California on Monday parted ways with coach Jason Gill after three seasons. The Trojans had a 60-59 record overall under Gill and went 21-39 in Pac-12 games.
It’s a very quick change for USC in the context of what the last three seasons have entailed. Gill’s first season was the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign and his second season began with the Trojans not having any fall practice due to continued Covid protocols. It’s tough to build much momentum in that situation.
On the other hand, it’s also tough to make an impassioned argument for patience based on the on-field results. After a 2020 season marked by a 10-5 record and some inspired play early on, the Trojans finished tied for eighth in the Pac-12 in 2021 with a 13-17 record and came in last in 2022 by going 8-22.
USC’s continued irrelevance nationally in college baseball is one of the most confounding situations in the sport. The Trojans have been to the postseason once since 2005 and will soon be on their fifth head coach in that time.
Some of the coaches brought on since USC fired Mike Gillespie after the 2006 season were bad choices, others were just uninspired hires. They’ve all resulted in the program underperforming, not just compared to USC’s historical success but also based on the way the program continues to recruit—it still routinely has Top 25 recruiting classes (nine in the last 12 years)—and with the natural advantages it has in geography, history and cache.
USC’s struggles within the university as a whole over the last decade are well-documented, including multiple scandals, so there’s a lot going on here beyond hiring the wrong coaches. Even in light of that, it’s hard to believe that the baseball program hasn’t found something closer to a winning formula on the diamond just by happenstance.
That’s the reality, though, and so here USC is again, looking for the right guy to turn the latent potential that always exists with the program into results.