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USC to search for defensive coordinator with specific skill

Coach Lane Kiffin will go outside his staff to hire someone who has been successful against the varied offenses in the Pac-12 Conference.

December 04, 2012|By Gary Klein
  • USC coach Lane Kiffin walks away from Max Wittek and Cody Kessler as they warm up before the Trojans' loss to Notre Dame, 22-13.
USC coach Lane Kiffin walks away from Max Wittek and Cody Kessler as they… (Harry How / Getty Images )

USC is seeking a coach who has successfully schemed against spread-option offenses as it searches for a defensive coordinator. And Coach Lane Kiffin will go outside of his staff to make the hire.

Ed Orgeron would not replace Monte Kiffin, who last week announced his resignation effective after the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl game against Georgia Tech.

Lane Kiffin said Orgeron, who has held the title — but not the responsibility — of defensive coordinator since 2010, would become the Trojans' assistant head coach and will also continue as recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach.

"Ed and myself are on the exact same page here," Kiffin said. "Our No. 1 goal is to bring USC back to a championship level on defense. In order to do that we need to bring in someone from the outside."

Orgeron said he and Kiffin had a lengthy conversation about the defensive coordinator position and that he was "very comfortable with my spot as assistant head coach."

"We both agreed that we need to research and develop the best defensive coordinator in the country to come in and help the Trojans," Orgeron said. "We realize there are some things we need to get better at with the scheme, especially against the spread offense.

"One of the reasons I came back to SC is that Lane involves me in most of the decision-making process with the football team. In that role, I'm very comfortable at USC."

Kiffin said there was no definitive timetable to hire a defensive coordinator, though it is not expected to occur before the bowl game. USC is at the NCAA limit of nine full-time assistant coaches and could not add another unless one left before the Sun Bowl.

Kiffin declined to identify possible candidates but acknowledged that he was open to seeking a coach who had "put on tape" an ability to deal with the varied offenses in the Pac-12 Conference. That means Stanford's Derek Mason, Oregon's Nick Aliotti, Oregon State's Mark Banker, California's Clancy Pendergast and Washington's Justin Wilcox could be among those contacted.

Asked whether he would also consider adding an offensive coach to assist with play calling, Kiffin reiterated what he said throughout the second half of the season: "At the end of the season is when we'll look at everything. We'd do that even if we were 13-0."

Quick hits

USC begins practice for the Sun Bowl on Wednesday at the Coliseum, but quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Marqise Lee might not attend. Barkley was in New York on Tuesday to accept a national scholar-athlete award. He also was announced as the winner of the Wuerffel Trophy, presented to the player who "best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement." Lee, a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award as the nation's top receiver, was scheduled to leave Wednesday for Florida to participate in the Home Depot College Football Awards show Thursday.

Twitter: @latimesklein

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