Changes are afoot in Troy, some much needed, others unexpected. Lane Kiffin finally pulled the trigger on a new defensive coordinator late last week—hiring Clancy Pendergast, formerly of Cal and the Arizona Cardinals.
As Pendergast was joining the Trojans, however, linebackers coach Scottie Hazelton was making his move to become the defensive coordinator for the University of Nevada Wolfpack.
Pendergast replaces Monte Kiffin, who spent the past three seasons with the Trojans before resigning and accepting a job as the defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys. Pendergast is 45, so he lends a bit of maturity to Kiffin’s staff. He spent the past three seasons in the Pac-12 at Cal, so he is familiar with both the offenses in the conference and the fertile recruiting grounds.
In 2010 and 2011, Pendergast’s Cal defense ranked first in the Pac-12. His 2012 Cal Bears defense ranked 10th in the college. The Bears overall record this past year was 3-9 (2-7 in the Pac-12) and led to the firing of head coach Jeff Tedford, putting Pendergast back on the market.
Prior to his stop at Cal, Pendergast was defensive coordinator in the NFL at both the Arizona Cardinals—including during their Super Bowl season—and the Kansas City Chiefs.
On the flip side, linebackers coach Scottie Hazelton departs USC for a better position in a smaller conference—likely a good career move as Hazelton will be working with brand new head coach Brian Polian, who comes to Reno from Texas A&M. Polian was the tight ends coach and coordinated the special teams unit.
Hazelton joined the Trojan coaching staff last season, replacing Joe Barry when he departed for the San Diego Chargers. Prior to USC, Hazelton was the defensive coordinator at North Dakota State, the 2011 NCAA FCS national champions.