On Monday, Scott Wolf reported that Lane Kiffin would looking for a defensive coordinator without ties to USC to succeed his father, Monte. That, coupled with Leon McQuay III being told that the Trojans would hire a ‘big name’ coach has given a new wrinkle to Kiffin’s coaching search.
We’ve highlighted five ‘big names’ that Kiffin could conceivably target, starting with the most probable.
1. Gene Chizik
Here’s the second of five candidates…
Preferred defensive scheme: 3-4
Current position: Unemployed, not retained at Cal
Resume highlights: Defensive coordinator with Arizona Cardinals (2004-2008), Kansas Chiefs (2009) and at Cal (2010-2012)
If the Trojans are desperate to stop Oregon, Pendergast makes a lot of sense. In 2010, Cal found a way to slow down the No. 1 Ducks, and nearly enough for a profound upset. Oregon scored just one offensive touchdown, punted five times and had just one drive of more than 50 yards.
While Pendergast’s success against Oregon helps his cause and the 3-4 defense may ultimately be the Kryptonite to the spread offense, his candidacy is flawed. The impact of the 2010 Oregon game is over-exaggerated due to successive blowout losses to the Ducks, and he would be a knee-jerk reaction hire if that was the main reason for his hire.
Plus,the Trojans don’t have the personnel to run a successful 3-4, since they are over-saturated with defensive tackles and several key recruits including Eddie Vanderdoes and Michael Hutchings have maintained that their commitment to USC has some level of dependency on the continuation of the 4-3 defense. With Ed Orgeron staying on as an assistant head coach, the likelihood for the 3-4 seems bleak, but it’s still plausible that Kiffin’s desire to figure out the spread is strong enough to be lured to Pendergast.
Also, considering that Pendergast is a big fan of the laminated play chart, his candidacy gets a few bumps.
Speaking of Oregon, another extreme longshot ‘big name’ candidate/Lane Kiffin dream candidate…
Nick Aliotti: There’s not a more experimental defensive coordinator in football than Nick Aliotti. He’s adopted defensive shifts from hockey and has found a way to mix both speed and quickness into his 4-3 scheme, which is what you’d expect at Oregon. The result is that Aliotti has effectively done more with less, creating the allure of the idea that Aliotti’s quick-paced, rotation-heavy defense could work wonders with the overall talent and the depth of talent that the Trojans have now and in the future with their incoming recruiting class. But alas, there’s virtually no chance Aliotti would depart Oregon for the Trojans. That said, if there’s anyone that knows how to stop the Chip Kelly blur, it has to be Aliotti, considering that his defense goes toe-to-toe with De’Anthony Thomas and company everyday in practice.