USC Football: Where the carousel stops for former USC staff

The coaching staff for USC Football has been overhauled significantly two times in the past two years.

The first time was after the 2012 season, when USC started preseason rank #1 and dropped to an unranked 7-6. During the following offseason, Lane Kiffin changed out nearly half of his staff.

The second staff purge was after Lane Kiffin was fired and Steve Sarkisian was hired. Sarkisian only retained two and brought many of his own assistants from Washington.

The consequences involve 13 coaches who had to look or are still looking for new jobs. It is interesting to see where they have landed and what has happened since then.

Starting with those who resigned or got fired after the Sun Bowl:

USC Football

Monte Kiffin (Gus Ruelas/AP)

Monte Kiffin was the first confirmed coaching casualty of 2012. The defensive coordinator announced that he would resign after the bowl game and did so after the ugly loss to then 6-7 Georgia Tech. A few weeks later, Monte was named the defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys. He has spent the past season there, and no matter how you look at it, he did not do very well. His team allowed an NFL worst 6645 yards. Although yards are not the most important thing, the Cowboys also ranked in the bottom 10 of almost every defensive statistic, allowing 27 points per game. Despite that, he was not fired when the offseason started for them. Statistically, the defense was only slightly worse than last year’s.

The next to go was linebackers coach, Scottie Hazelton. Shortly before Clancy Pendergast was announced to replace Monte, Hazelton left to become the Nevada defensive coordinator. He left after just one year of coaching at USC. His defensive statistics were only slightly worse than in 2012 despite playing an arguably tougher schedule. They played all three ranked teams on their schedule on the road, including the eventual BCS national champion, Florida State. They finished 4-8 overall and 3-5 in the Mountain West.

After Pendergast was hired, Marvin Sanders was ousted so that Pendergast could coach the defensive backs himself. After signing day, the offensive coordinator, in title, running backs coach, and former player, Kennedy Polamalu was fired by Lane. Sanders and Polamalu both found their way to Loyola High School for the 2013 season. Sanders is currently still the head coach at Loyola, while Polamalu was hired to UCLA by Jim Mora— perhaps as another PR stunt by Mora to attract attention to UCLA and simultaneously attempt to make USC look bad.

The ones hired to replace these four found themselves looking for work a year later. Some were more fortunate than others.

Tommie Robinson was brought in to replace Polamalu as running backs coach and did an admirable job. However, Sarkisian brought his own running backs coach from Washington so Robinson was let go. It did not take him long to find a job as running backs coach at Texas under new head coach Charlie Strong. He will probably make a decent impact there.

The second offensive line coach, Mike Summers could only do so much to help the offensive line in a single season that was filled with injuries. Sarkisian hired the 49ers offensive line coach, Tim Drevno, to replace him. Will Muschamp of Florida saw fit to hire him to replace Tim Davis— a former offensive line coach at USC during the back-to-back national championship seasons.

Both Clancy Pendergast and Mike Ekeler have not had any luck so far. Both remain unemployed while many coaching positions are closing fast.

Some of Lane’s longest standing staff members were also let go by Sarkisian. Special teams coach John Baxter, offensive line coach James Cregg, and strength and conditioning coach Aaron Ausmus join Ekeler and Pendergast in the job seeking. Perhaps most notable of all, Ed Orgeron has also not found anything.

Meanwhile, Lane Kiffin himself is employed. After being fired by Haden in September, he served briefly as a consultant to Nick Saban before Alabama’s bowl game. During the offseason, Saban decided to hire him as Alabama‘s offensive coordinator. He takes the spot of Doug Nussmeier.

Only Tee Martin and Clay Helton still remain at USC.

That is a lot of coaching turnover for two year’s time. It is difficult to run a program with so much upheaval, so hopefully the program sees some stability as they start to exit the sanctions in the coming years.

And, please, no more chants of firing coaches at the games.

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