LOS ANGELES — USC offensive coordinators are natural targets for criticism, at least as long as Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian, Jeremy Bates, Clay Helton and now Tee Martin called plays.
USC is 6-1 this season but it’s been hard to find many Martin supporters in recent weeks despite an offense led by quarterback Sam Darnold and tailback Ronald Jones.
“Some of (the criticism), I say, `Man, you’re right,’ and some of it, I say, `You have no clue,’” Martin said Tuesday.
The issue surrounding the program right now is whether Martin is the only one who deserves the blame? Martin, quarterbacks coach Tyson Helton and Clay Helton all participate in calling plays, according to sources.
Clay Helton was evasive when asked this week about Martin. Asked about criticism directed at his offensive coordinator, Helton said, “I think Tee Martin has done a wonderful job.”
Asked if Martin is the only one calling plays, Helton said, “I think Tee Martin is doing a wonderful job.”
Perhaps one reason for the response is it keeps Martin in the spotlight and makes him the focal point of the fans’ ire. Helton probably has enough to deal with right now keeping Athletic Director Lynn Swann happy.
Martin said he can deal with criticism because he was the quarterback who replaced Peyton Manning at Tennessee and led the Volunteers to a national championship.
“It comes with the territory,” he said. “In the SEC, it was tough.”
Probably a lot tougher than at USC. Especially being an African-American quarterback playing in the South. But Martin’s unlikely to be a happy camper at USC as long as he is the sole recipient of criticism on post-game shows and social media.
If you charted Kiffin’s tenure at USC, he was probably the nicest right when he replaced Norm Chow as offensive coordinator because he knew the criticism he would receive if anything went wrong.
“I need your help,” he told a reporter shortly after getting the job. “I’m going to get killed by…