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USC Assistant Pola Leaves for Job With NFL's Browns

January 24, 2004|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC's national championship season continues to take a toll on the coaching staff.

Kennedy Pola, who tutored Trojan running backs and coordinated special teams, was hired on Friday as running back coach by the Cleveland Browns.

Pola is the second assistant from Coach Pete Carroll's 2003 staff to be wooed from USC. In December, linebacker coach Nick Holt was hired as head coach at Idaho.

"You always anticipate this is going to happen when you do well," Carroll said. "Kennedy was a true Trojan and was a big part of putting this program together and getting this thing going."

Pola, 40, played fullback and linebacker at USC in 1982-85. He joined Paul Hackett's USC staff as running back coach for the 2000 season and was retained, along with defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, when Carroll was hired in December 2000.

Pola coached special teams in 2001, and was running back coach and special team coordinator the last two seasons.

Pola, citing the experience of Carroll and others, said he hoped the jump to the NFL would enable him to one day return to USC or another college program as an offensive coordinator or head coach. He also said that opening the door for Samoan coaches in the NFL weighed in his decision.

"I want more -- that's what USC taught me," Pola said. "Compete if you want something more."

In Cleveland, Pola replaces Todd McNair, one of the three assistants fired by Coach Butch Davis on the day after the Browns completed their 5-11 season. The Browns announced on Friday that Davis had received a two-year contract extension.

Carroll has spoken with several candidates about the linebacker coach position, including former UCLA and NFL standout Ken Norton Jr., but he said again Friday that he would not fill the linebacker or running back jobs until after Feb. 4, the first day high school players can sign national letters of intent.

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