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1st & 10:
First Take… At this point, USC might as well be trolling the legion of fans and commentators who implored the Trojans to think outside the box in their coaching hires.
Thursday held the news that not one, but two former USC assistants were being brought back into the fold on Clay Helton’s staff. First Clancy Pendergast reportedly turned down a late push from Oregon in favor of a return to Los Angeles. Then the Trojans surprised everyone by announcing the hire of John Baxter as special teams coordinator.
Both were former Lane Kiffin assistants. Both last coached at USC in 2013 with Helton. Both hires were met with near-unanimous approval.
More from Reign of Troy
- Markese Stepp enters transfer portal intending to leave USC football
- USC football’s Alijah Vera-Tucker declares for NFL Draft
- USC football adds Xavion Alford as transfer from Texas
- USC Podcast: RoT Radio Ep. 396 on the Football Season’s Fallout
- Talanoa Hufanga named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, USC football with five first-teamers
With a staff all but complete, Helton has proven that perhaps you can have your cake and eat it too. USC’s first two hires, both promotions from within, certainly felt lackluster considering the options to look elsewhere for higher-profile names. These last four, however, have certainly hit the mark despite being very much “In the Box” selections.
Tyson Helton and Neil Callaway, Helton’s brother and his father’s former offensive coordinator, don’t have the same USC connections that made so many look at the Helton and Tee Martin hires with skepticism, but they still reek of nepotism. Meanwhile, Pendergast and Baxter could easily be accused of being retreads.
The good news is that nepotism and retreads may work in USC’s favor when it comes to these four. Pendergast and Baxter were beloved largely because of their success. The Trojans had the Pac-12’s No. 1 defense under Pendergast while special teams have suffered greatly in Baxter’s absence.
As much as fans wanted something new for the 2016 coaching staff, there is little to complain about when it comes to Helton, Callaway, Pendergast and Baxter.
And Ten USC Football News Links…
- Daily News: There is one coaching nugget to complain about, though it doesn’t necessarily have to do with the men USC hired. Rather, it’s a question of who they did not bother contacting. If Scott Wolf is to be believed, Helton never pursued Wisconsin’s Dave Aranda, who was apparently interested in the job. If true, that’s a potentially huge loss on USC’s part.
- Reign of Troy: With Pendergast’s official announcement pending, Michael Castillo took a look at how USC’s current players will fit into his 5-2 scheme.
- Bleacher Report: Bryan Fischer’s bold predictions for 2016 in the Pac-12 including disappointments (the conference will miss out on the playoff again and Christian McCaffrey will miss out on the Heisman), but he predicts USC will win the South at least.
- Reign of Troy: Baxter’s return sparked plenty of rejoicing on Twitter. We compiled the best of the reaction, including tweets from current and former players welcoming back the special teams guru.
- LA Times: One of the nation’s top JUCO recruits de-committed from Tennessee Wednesday after receiving an offer from USC.
- ESPN: USC had just one player on ESPN’s All-Pac-12 Bowl Team — Delvon Simmons. Considering USC’s lackluster performance that is no surprise.
- Reign of Troy: USC basketball held off a comeback attempt by ASU to move to 13-3 on the season. That’s more wins than all of last season, for the record.
- ESPN: Sportscenter gave some love to Chimezie Metu and Jordan McLaughlin for their combination on a one-handed alley-oop dunk from an inbounds pass.
- Yard Barker: Steve Sarkisian has expressed interest in joining an NFL team as a QB coach or offensive coordinator.
- RipsIt Blog: USC football’s fall semester GPA was the best ever in 2015, with almost a third of the team posting 3.0 or better GPAs.