USC Football: Handicapping Who Will Replace Monte as Defensive Signal-Caller

Rick McMahan@@RickMcMahanSenior Writer IDecember 2, 2012

USC Football: Handicapping Who Will Replace Monte as Defensive Signal-Caller

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    After USC's 2012 debacle on the field, you knew changes were forthcoming, and the first axe to fall is the self-imposed departure of USC's defensive signal-caller, Monte Kiffin.

    Kiffin, the father of head coach Lane, has decided it would be in the best interests of all concerned if he explored other opportunities, perhaps in the NFL.

    For those who watched the futility of USC's defense this season, the change is welcome.

    It should be noted that by virtue of title, Ed Orgeron is already USC's defensive coordinator, but that was an honorary title for the most part as everyone knew that the elder Kiffin called the defensive plays.

    After falling flat on their faces in historic fashion against late-season spread offenses, the Trojans will now be looking for a new guiding defensive maven to stop the bleeding in 2013, but who will that be?

    This slideshow will look at five worthy candidates and offer odds for each one.

    It will be crucial for Lane Kiffin to find someone to shore up the defense if he wants to survive the 2013 season with his job intact.

    Here are the five most likely guys to help him accomplish that mission.

No. 5: Nick Holt

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    We start this handicapping exercise with a blast from the fairly recent past in the form of former Trojan defensive coordinator, Nick Holt.

    Holt served two stints with USC in the Pete Carroll regime, where he started out as the Trojans linebackers coach from 2001 to 2003 before assuming defensive line coach and coordinator responsibilities from 2006 to 2008.

    But whatever points Holt gains from his familiarity with USC's program, he loses in the way he left the Trojans to join Steve Sarkisian when Sarkisian accepted the Washington Huskies head coaching position, not to mention his ensuing travails in guiding that defense prior to his dismissal from Washington in 2011.

    To illustrate Holt's free fall from the ranks of the coaching elite, one has to look no further than his gig at Arkansas in 2012, where he assumed the on-campus recruiting coordinator responsibilities from former Bobby Petrino love interest, Jessica Dorrell.

    Odds of Nick Holt being named head defensive coach at USC: 1000-1

No. 4: Gene Chizik

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    What recently fired Auburn head coach Gene Chizik lacks in running an overall program, he makes up for with his defensive acumen.

    Chizik, a well respected defensive mind, has made his presence felt on that side of the ball with stops at Stephen F. Austin, University of Central Florida, Auburn (first time as defensive coordinator only) and at Texas before accepting the head coaching gig in his second stint at Auburn.

    There are a couple of things working against Chizik coming west to coach the Trojans, and both have to do with ego.

    First, there is Chizik's need to be the top dog after winning a national championship while at Auburn in 2010. Would he even consider playing second fiddle to Lane Kiffin next year? Not likely.

    And then there is the considerable ego of Kiffin himself, who certainly would not be eager to have a guy like Chizik looking over his shoulder while he will be fighting for his job in 2013.

    Odds of Gene Chizik being named head defensive coach at USC: 500-1

No. 3: Randy Shannon

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    An interesting name to consider is former Miami Hurricane defensive coordinator and head coach, Randy Shannon.

    Shannon, whose defensive coaching prowess is matched by his complete integrity when it comes to playing by the rules, would be a great fit except for some extenuating circumstances to be revealed later in this slideshow.

    An innovative defensive mind, Shannon is an enthusiastic motivator and also is a very good recruiter, which could play a part in any decision to bring him to USC should that become a factor (again, more on that later).

    This year, Shannon found employment as the linebackers coach at TCU, so an offer to become a lead defensive guy at USC would definitely be a coaching upgrade for him.

    Still, this move would be a long shot at best.

    Odds of Randy Shannon being named head defensive coach at USC: 100-1

No. 2: Joe Barry

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    One of the many areas where USC's defense suffered in 2012 is in the linebacker unit, where coach Scotty Hazelton's guys underperformed for most of the year.

    Taking over for former Trojan linebacker coach Joe Barry when Barry left to join the San Diego Chargers in that capacity, Hazelton's charges never performed up to the expectations many had for them after a solid 2011 season.

    Now, with Norv Turner likely to be fired as the Charger head coach after a dismal 2012 season, the highly regarded Barry will likely be back on the market soon.

    Barry was loved by his Trojan players, and when he left last year, it also created a void in the defense which Hazelton—likely through no fault of his own—was unable to fill.

    A return to the Trojans by Barry would be welcomed under almost any circumstances except for the one outlined in the next slide...

    Odds of Joe Barry being named the head defensive coach at USC: 20-1

No. 1: Ed Orgeron

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    Really, the next guy to lead the Trojans as their head defensive coach already is there and holds the title of defensive coordinator.

    Ed Orgeron is a consummate defensive coach and a guy whose value to the Trojans is almost indispensable.

    In addition to being an accomplished defensive line coach, Orgeron understands the nuances of the game itself and is innovative enough to craft an effective game plan to help stymie those spread offenses that have given USC fits recently.

    In addition, there may be no better recruiter than the gruff-voiced Orgeron whose in-your-face style captures his passion perfectly.

    But most of all, after playing good soldier to Lane Kiffin's father Monte, whom he respects immensely, Orgeron deserves a chance to guide the Trojans beyond the title he has held since his return to USC three years ago.

    Perhaps as importantly, if Orgeron is not elevated to the play-calling spot for the defense, he may decide to seek an opportunity elsewhere.

    And that is something USC can't afford to have happen.

    Odds of Ed Orgeron being named head defensive coach at USC: 5-2