Pac-12: Willie Mack Garza
Stanford is the only Pac-12 team still looking for a coordinator. Co-defensive coordinator Jason Tarver is off to the NFL to run the Oakland Raiders defense. He'll be joined in Oakland by USC receivers coach Ted Gilmore, who did a great job with Robert Woods and Marqise Lee this past season.
USC coach Lane Kiffin needs to replace three assistant coaches: LBs coach Joe Barry was hired by the San Diego Chargers, and Kiffin still hasn't hired a full-time secondary coach since Willie Mack Garza resigned just before the 2011 season began.
Meanwhile, Oregon State may be on the cusp of filling a vacancy in the secondary after Keith Heyward bolted for Washington. The Corvallis Gazette and Footballscoop.com reported that the deal is nearly done with former Indianapolis Colts assistant coach Rod Perry.
And, of course, there are four new coaching staffs at Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Washington State, while Washington, Utah and California made significant changes.
Colorado and Oregon, in fact, are the only two programs that haven't made any staff changes.
The latest story that will pop up when you Google the notorious recruiting Svengali: Former Tennessee -- and USC -- assistant Willie Mack Garza allegedly wired $1,500 in July 2009 to Willie Lyles to pay for running back prospect Lache Seastrunk and his mother, Evelyn, to fly to Knoxville for an unofficial recruiting trip, according to a Yahoo! Sports report.
You've heard of Lache Seastrunk, right?
Garza resigned as USC's secondary coach on Sept. 1, citing "personal issues unrelated to USC."
You think this had something to do with it?
Seastrunk signed with Oregon but opted to transfer to Baylor this season. Oregon's business with Lyles and Seastrunk is being investigated by the NCAA.
And so Tennessee joins Oregon and LSU with some Lyles exposure.
Ah, but we sort of knew there would be more chapters to this mystery, eh? What I enjoyed most was this quote to Yahoo! from Evelyn Seastrunk.
"I'm so sick and tired of this 'Willie Lyles said this and Willie Lyles said that," she said. "I don't care what Willie Lyles says. I don't care as long as my son is OK.
"Whatever undercover dirty stuff that they're doing, I'm pretty sure that Willie Lyles is not the only person. He's just the only one that's been caught. This is something that they've been doing forever."
You go, girl.
By the way, USC doesn't have exposure here but coach Lane Kiffin might because Garza worked for him at Tennessee when the alleged violation took place.
- Three Arizona players to watch. And you should include this frosh linebacker.
- Arizona State quarterback Brock Osweiler played well but heat cramps were a problem.
- Is this California's next great running back?
- Can Colorado earn bowl eligibility? Buffs coach Jon Embree is a no-nonsense guy.
- LSU's Les Miles and Oregon's Chip Kelly have different images. The Ducks are healthy, but linebacker Kiko Alonso's status hasn't been announced.
- There is optimism and caution about the return of Oregon State wide receiver James Rodgers. Has coach Mike Riley gone soft with the selective suspensions?
- Stanford will play a number of talented freshmen. The Cardinal have high hopes, even beyond the Rose Bowl.
- UCLA is mad at Houston. Perhaps that's good because this is a must-win for the Bruins.
- USC's biggest concern is its offensive line. More on assistant coach Willie Mack Garza's sudden departure.
- Is Utah ready for the Pac-12 stage? We'll see next weekend at USC.
- Washington running back Chris Polk looks good enough to play, but will he? The Huskies might have returned to respectability, but the old Husky Stadium crowds have not.
- It's rare that the coach of a Washington State opponent is fine with saying, "Go Cougs." Are the Cougs past their growing pains? This is great news... good job, Kim.
Obviously, the horrible timing -- two days before the season-opener versus Minnesota -- and vagueness here inspires a raised eyebrow and a, "Hmm."
The statement said the personal reasons are "unrelated to USC." That would suggest that this is more a Garza issue than a USC football issue.
Garza, 42, was with head coach Lane Kiffin at Tennessee and followed him to USC in 2010.
Here's the LA Times on the matter. It reports, "Former USC and NFL safety Sammy Knight is a graduate assistant on the staff and could oversee the secondary."
This shouldn't be a significant problem for the Minnesota game -- the game plan likely has been fully installed -- though it could complicate getting marching orders from defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin to his defensive backs.
It's also probably a good thing that USC has a veteran secondary, with three of four 2010 starters back, including preseason All-American safety T.J. McDonald.
Still, not the best way for a team to start off the season.
It apparently is complete. Here it is as listed on the team's official site.
Lane Kiffin - Head Coach
John Baxter - Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator
Monte Kiffin - Assistant Head Coach
Ed Orgeron - Defensive and Recruiting Coordinator/Defensive Line
John Morton - Passing Game Coordinator/Wide Receivers
Joe Barry - Linebackers Coach
James Cregg - Offensive Line Coach
Willie Mack Garza - Secondary Coach
Clay Helton - Quarterbacks Coach
Todd McNair - Running Backs Coach
Couple of notes.
Notice that Orgeron is listed as defensive coordinator and Monte Kiffin as "assistant head coach." Might that indicate a succession plan when the 7o-year-old Kiffin opts to step aside?
Also, note there's no offensive coordinator. Lane Kiffin will call plays, so he didn't bother to give the honorary title to an assistant.
Only two assistants from Pete Carroll's staff were retained: Morton and McNair.
You might recall that McNair spent a long stretch being interviewed by the NCAA infractions committee on Feb. 19 and 20.
Baxter was a great hire. Not only is he a highly regarded special teams coach, but he's a leader among coaches who care about the "student'" part of the student-athlete, having created a program, "Academic Gameplan," that helps players learn study skills and how to organize their time.
This appears to clear the way for Joe Barry, 39, a former USC player and graduate assistant who was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009, to be announced as the Trojans' new linebackers coach. The football office wouldn't confirm the hiring on Tuesday, though Barry has told reporters he is headed to USC.
Earlier this week, linebacker recruit Soma Vainuku (Eureka, Calif./Eureka) told ESPN.com's Greg Biggins that he believed Seto would be on the new staff.
The Trojans' defensive staff appears set: coordinator Monte Kiffin, defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, secondary coach Willie Mack Garza and Barry with the linebackers.
According to this story -- and this one -- Joe Barry thinks USC has.
Barry, 39, a former USC player and graduate assistant, told reporters that he was let out of his contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so he could join Lane Kiffin at USC:
"It was a tough decision, especially leaving Tampa,'' Barry said. "Our family loves living here. The fans have been unbelievable. We've had some good times, obviously, with the Super Bowl year, and we've kicked a lot of (butt). Even though last year was difficult, it was still special to be able to walk out onto Raymond James every Sunday.''
"But (USC) made me an offer I couldn't refuse. I think SC couldn't have hired a better head coach to replace Pete Carroll than Lane Kiffin, and with Monte there, and the fact that I played there and my first coaching job was there, it just was the right thing for me and my family.''
A USC spokesman, however, said there would be no announcement today.
Further, Scott Wolf this afternoon wrote this on his USC blog: "Joe Barry was quoted this morning saying he was hired at USC. Lane Kiffin said about 35 minutes ago he was not hired. It's going to be interesting to see how this turns out. Does anyone think Barry would say he was hired if he was not?"
And, as we noted earlier, there are indications that USC assistant coach Rocky Seto will be retained in some capacity. Considering the Trojans already have hired a defensive coordinator (Monte Kiffin), a secondary coach (Willie Mack Garza) and defensive line coach (Ed Orgeron), there are only so many options.
Willie Mack Garza, the Volunteers secondary coach last season, will join Kiffin's staff at USC, though his specific duties won't be announced until the staff is complete.
You can read Garza's bio here.
Garza's hiring brings into question whether long-time USC assistant Rocky Seto will be retained by Kiffin. Seto was promoted to defensive coordinator last year after Nick Holt left for Washington and also oversaw the secondary.
Chris Low reports on the SEC blog that Garza's departure may have been abrupt.
Kiffin has hired his father Monte Kiffin, Ed Orgeron, James Cregg and now Garza away from Tennessee.