Indiana running backs coach Deland McCullough has interviewed for USC football’s open running backs coach position, according to 247Sports.
Information on USC football’s pursuit of a new running backs coach after Tommie Robinson’s departure for LSU has been scarce, but there’s a new clue on who the Trojans may be targeting, thanks to 247Sports Steve Wiltfong.
Wiltfong reported on Tuesday afternoon that Indiana running backs coach Deland McCullough has already interviewed with Clay Helton for the position.
Unlike most of USC’s assistant coaches, McCullough does not have any clear ties to the Trojans.
After a standout career at Miami (OH) in the mid-1990s — he left as the MAC’s record holder for career rushing yards — McCullough played for the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles before making his way to Canada where he played for two seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He also spent a year in the XFL with the Chicago Enforcers in 2001.
Coincidentally, offensive coordinator Tee Martin also spent time with the Eagles before eventually joining the Blue Bombers as a player, though both of his stints came several years after McCullough’s.
After his playing days, McCullough moved into the coaching realm, beginning at his alma mater, Miami, before becoming Indiana’s running backs coach in 2011. He coached the likes of Tevin Coleman and Jordan Howard, who became NFL draft picks, and was named the Big Ten’s Running Backs Coach of the Year in 2014 by BTN.com.
While McCullough lacks USC connections, there are schematic parallels between Indiana’s offense and the Trojans’, which make it an interesting link. Prior to the Rose Bowl, Penn State was preparing for USC by studying their game film against the Hoosiers.
“They have some type of Indiana in them and a little bit of Ohio State with the uptempo and how many athletic players they have on their offense,” safety Marcus Allen said of the Trojans.
Granted PSU head coach James Franklin and defensive coordinator Brent Pry indicated it was more of a link to Indiana’s passing attack, despite fewer downfield shots.
“[USC] is not throwing the ball down the field as much,” Pry said. “Indiana was chucking it all day long and having great success that somebody was catching it, either them or the other team.”
Nonetheless, McCullough being involved in an offense compared to USC on a schematic level is a good sign.
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Since Clay Helton was hired as head coach, scheme has been an emphasis, despite the apparent insular nature of staffing hires.
Ronnie Bradford was hired as defensive backs coach because he believed in Clancy Pendergast’s system. And while Neil Callaway was Helton’s offensive coordinator in college at Houston, he was still running an offensive line at Western Kentucky in a scheme that fit what USC wanted to do.
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Indiana’s rushing attack was not the most formidable in 2016, ranking 108th in S&P+. However, the Hoosiers did have a 1,000-yard rusher in Devine Redding despite a much more prolific passing attack.
It remains to be seen if McCullough will ultimately join USC’s staff, but he is certainly one to watch.