Who will Lane Kiffin hire as offensive coordinator at USC?
Posted by: Pete Roussel on February 10, 2012
Lane Kiffin's attention is on finalizing his coaching staff at USC.
Kiffin must fill one position on each side of the ball due to his dismissal of offensive coordinator / running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu and the departure of linebackers coach Scottie Hazleton's to Nevada as defensive coordinator.
On the eve of National Signing Day, I heard that offensive coordinator / running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu had been dismissed from the staff. With less than 15 hours until a number of top recruits signed, I decided to hold off reporting the news, but I did tweet, "Keep an eye on developments at USC" to hint that another coaching transaction had occurred on Kiffin's staff.
I actually forgot (true story) to go back the next day to report the information, but CBS Sports informed us of the dismissal on Friday evening.
Lane has already replaced Monte Kiffin with former Cal defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, who explains in the video below that USC will shift to a 3-4 defense.
But what about on the offensive side of the ball?
It's an interesting dilemma because it would be surprising to see Kiffin relinquish his play-calling role.
Lane, however, is expected to minimize his own role focusing on the quarterbacks and wide receivers in order to have a more hands-on approach with the entire team. Athletic director Pat Haden recently alluded to that notion.
Because of Clay Helton's flexibility, I think it's possible that Lane could shift Helton from quarterbacks to running backs. Helton once coached the running backs at the University of Memphis. He has no ego and wouldn't have an issue with the move, if asked.
The reason -- It's rare to have a coach serve as the offensive coordinator / running backs coach. In fact, USC was the only program in America that had that combination the last couple of years with Kennedy Polamalu.
Maybe Kiffin hires the best available running backs coach; moves forward with co-offensive coordinators, in which case Tee Martin may be rewarded for turning down an opportunity to join the Tennessee staff, his alma mater, in favor of remaining with the Trojans.
If Kiffin chooses to hire a running backs coach from the outside, he could target former Arizona Cardinals running backs coach Tommie Robinson or kill two birds with one stone by hiring Stanford running backs coach Mike Sanford Jr., who was just named a Top 50 recruiter by 247Sports.com. Let's get a bright young coach that is a proven recruiter while weakening our opponent. Sanford just recently shifted to quarterbacks at Stanford.
So who will Lane target?
It seems logical that former Chicago Bears quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates would have interest in the job. Bates served as the USC offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach during Matt Barkley's freshman season.
Perhaps Pittsburgh Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner enters the mix. Fichtner coached with Clay Helton for several years at the University of Memphis. They remain close friends. Kiffin and Tomlin are friends, and Fichtner has coached at USC earlier in his career.
Jeff Tedford's name has floated around. Lane stated over a month ago that Tedford wouldn't be joining the staff, but that was before the dismissal of Pola. The move, however, would surprise me even though Kiffin and Tedford previously coached together and have mutual respect.
One thing is for sure.... The Trojans need to get to work.
Lane, nor anyone in the program wants anything close to a 7-6 finished like in 2012. With an abundance of mid-year enrollees, there's no doubt Kiffin is addressing the coaching moves, right now.
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