USC football hires Graham Harrell as new offensive coordinator

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images /

USC football has found a new offensive coordinator in North Texas’ Graham Harrell, an Air Raid disciple who played and coached under Mike Leach, according to reports.

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It took almost three weeks, but USC football has tapped a new man to revive the Trojan offense in 2019.

North Texas offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Graham Harrell will become USC’s new offensive coordinator, according to Bruce Feldman of the Athletic. The hiring was first reported by Adam Maya of

Harrell may be more familiar to Trojan fans for his playing career than coaching at this point. He was a record-setting passer at Texas Tech under now-Washington State head coach Mike Leach from 2004 to 2008. He threw 134 touchdown passes in his career, an NCAA record.

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When he finished his college career, he spent a season with Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State as an offensive quality control coach, though he left that post to pursue his playing career in Canada and the NFL.

After spending time with the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets, Harrell joined up with Leach at Washington State in 2014. He was promoted to outside receivers coach in 2015 and helped foster the career of Gabe Marks and others. Ahead of the 2016 season, North Texas head coach Seth Littrell brought him back to the Lone Star State to become offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the Mean Green.

North Texas’ offense was less-than-stellar under the previous regime and Harrell helped the program turn around, rising from 111th in S&P+ in 2016 to 28th in 2017.

At USC, Harrell will be tasked with installing the Air Raid and improving the Trojan offense, which slipped to 55th in S&P+ in 2018.

All the while, Harrell will live in the shadow of the what-could-have-been with Kliff Kingsbury, who took the OC job in December before leaving the Trojans at the start of January to become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. Fortunately, Harrell has managed that shadow before. He followed in Kingsbury’s footsteps at Texas Tech and came out the other side with his share of the record books.

Harrell will have to hit the ground running at USC, not just when the season begins with a tough opening slate, but with the next two weeks of important recruiting work that needs doing. The Trojans already lost five-star athlete Bru McCoy to the uncertainty of the offensive coordinator position and will need to lock down four-star wide receiver commits Kyle Ford and Puka Nacua before Signing Day on February 6.