- Arash Markazi, ESPN Staff Writer
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When Lane Kiffin was hired by USC nearly three years ago, the idea of Kiffin as the head coach didn’t excite USC’s fan base nearly as much as did the coaching staff he was putting together.
Kiffin was bringing over his dad, Monte, the father of the “Tampa Cover 2” defense and former USC head coach Pete Carroll’s mentor. He was hiring Ed Orgeron, widely regarded as one of the best defensive line coaches and recruiting coordinators in college football. And he nabbed highly regarded running backs coach Kennedy Pola from the Jacksonville Jaguars as well.
It was all supposed to work out beautifully for Kiffin, but as Matt Barkley found out this season, things don’t always go according to plan.
Monte Kiffin’s three seasons as USC’s defensive coordinator have been a serious disappointment. The Trojans gave up over 500 yards per game in their five losses this season and gave up the most points, touchdowns and yards in school history in a loss to Oregon. Monte, 72, may be a coaching pioneer but his schemes and coaching technique simply haven’t translated to the college game.
Lane Kiffin’s track record as an offensive coordinator at USC certainly isn’t terrible but it’s clear that Barkley and Robert Woods regressed this season and he wasn’t able to get the most out of a starting unit that had arguably as much talent as any team in the country.
It seems as if USC athletic director Pat Haden is committed to giving Kiffin at least one more season as USC’s head coach. Kiffin still has two years left on a contract that pays him around $4 million annually, and USC is still going to be hit with scholarship reductions for the next two seasons. Haden would likely want those funds and a clean slate before seriously considering a run at a new coach.
But the one thing Haden can do in the short-term, both to appease his disgruntled fan base and take some pressure off Kiffin, is insist on bringing in a new offensive and defensive coordinator for the 2013 season.
It’s all speculation at this point, of course, but it has me thinking about potential difference-makers. If I were looking to reshape the USC staff, here are four names I would think about:
Possible position: Offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach
Tedford was fired as Cal’s head coach last week after he won a school-record 82 games in 11 seasons. He was Fresno State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 1993-1997, where he coached Trent Dilfer and David Carr. He took a similar position with Oregon from 1998-2001, where he coached Akili Smith and Joey Harrington. And while he was at Cal he coached Kyle Boller and Aaron Rogers. Tedford also coached a quarterback by the name of Lane Kiffin from 1994-1996 at Fresno State and was his mentor when Kiffin became an assistant there in 1997. If Kiffin is going to be comfortable with anyone taking over the offense it might be Tedford.
Possible Position: Offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach
Turner looks like he is coaching his final games in San Diego and will be searching for a job next season. With no head coaching jobs available for him, he might be open to returning to USC, where was an assistant coach from 1976-1984 and with the Los Angeles Rams under former USC coach John Robinson from 1985-1990. Turner’s record as a head coach (111-120) may not wow you, but his track record as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach is solid.
Possible Position: Defensive coordinator
Chizik was fired as Auburn’s coach last week, less than two years after leading the Tigers to the BCS National Championship. It has been a historic slide for Chizik, who went 3-9 this past season at Auburn. If Chizik isn’t able to find any attractive head coaching vacancies, he might be inclined to return to his old role as a defensive coordinator, a position he shined in at Auburn and Texas. Chizik was Auburn’s defensive coordinator from 2002-2004, and his 2004 unit led the country in scoring defense and was a catalyst in the Tigers finishing the season 13-0 and second only to USC in the final polls. He was then Texas’ defensive coordinator from 2005-2006, a team USC fans remember well from their classic 2006 Rose Bowl game. If Chizik can help turn USC’s defense around and help them to an undefeated season or a Rose Bowl win, he’ll probably get to choose his next head coaching job.
Possible Position: Defensive coordinator
Shannon, who is currently the linebackers coach at TCU, was fired as Miami’s head coach two years ago after a compiling a 28-22 record in four seasons. Shannon may not have been the perfect fit as Miami’s head coach, but he shined as the Hurricanes’ defensive coordinator from 2001-2006. His units ranked in the top seven nationally in all but one season. He was an assistant in Miami with Orgeron for one season, before replacing him as the defensive line coach in 1992. He’s not only a solid coordinator but also a solid recruiter who could work his way back into a head coaching job by helping turn around USC’s defense.