Special teams coach John Baxter could stay at USC even if Steve Sarkisian declines to keep him on staff, according to Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News.
A source tells me #USC special teams coach John Baxter could be switched to an academic role if he is not retained by Steve Sarkisian
— InsideUSC (@InsideUSC) December 11, 2013
Baxter’s academic program, the ”Academic Gameplan,” is renowned around the country as a guide to teaching study, classroom and life skills to athletes. Given athletic director Pat Haden’s emphasis on academic success among USC student-athletes, it makes sense that Haden at least would fight to keep Baxter around.
On the field, Baxter has clearly improved USC special teams. The Trojans have blocked five kicks this year, the most in the Pac-12, and boast the Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Year in Soma Vainuku.
However, the kicking game has struggled greatly this season with kicker Andre Heidari shaky for most of the year and punter Kris Albarado tailing off in the latter half of the year. The kick coverage team also fell flat on their face against UCLA, gifting the Bruins great field position time and time again.
Rumors swirled that Sarkisian has been looking at Texas A&M’s special teams coordinator Jeff Banks, while the new head coach has already hired Johnny Nansen, who coached special teams, from Washington.