Following a 42-22 loss to Stanford in the PAC-12 Championship Game, the USC Trojans released numerous coaches from their staff. Head coach Clay Helton let go most of his defensive staff, including defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
Some may find it surprising that the Trojans are releasing a large number of coaches before their bowl game, but the Trojans will have 15 practices before they travel to San Diego later this month.
It was always assumed that Tee Martin would maintain his job. Martin is one of the best recruiters in the nation and is beloved by the players. Tuiasosopo and Sirmon are also well regarded in the coaching world. Sirmon has developed the young linebacker crew quite well this season and Tuiasosopo has done a great job recruiting over the years.
Helton will have a lot of vacancies to fill this offseason. The Trojans have already been linked to former interim head coach Ed Ogeron rejoining their staff, but all eyes will be on whom Helton chooses as his new defensive coordinator. The Trojan defense kept USC in some games, but overall was far too inconsistent.
Ultimately, USC's inability to slow down Stanford's Christian McCaffrey could prove to be the reason Wilcox lost his job. The Heisman hopeful burned the Trojans for 207 yards on the ground, 105 yards receiving, and even through a touchdown pass to Kevin Hogan. It was the second time this year McCaffrey humiliated the Trojan defense.
A big makeover should be coming to USC defense. The Trojans were ranked 70th in yards per game (401), 98th in passing yards per game (254), and 57th in points per game (25.9) this season. Rumors are flying that the Trojans have reportedly been or at least should be in contact with former assistant Clancy Pendergast about a potential reunion next season.
Pendergast, who is currently the linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers, was the team's defensive coordinator during the 2013 season before being replaced by Wilcox. Pendergast was phenomenal in his lone season at USC, coaching the Trojans to the 13th best defense in the country in yards per game (351) and 16th best scoring defense (21.2 points per game). The Trojans also had the sixth best defensive efficiency rating (81.8) under Pendergast. If he is available, Pendergast should be Helton's first choice as USC's next defensive coordinator.
Special teams play will also be a main issue that Helton will certainly look to over haul this season. The Trojans were exposed time and time again with their poor special teams play, especially on kick-offs. The Trojans were ranked 95th out of 128 teams in special teams efficiency with a net rating of 42.7 out of 100 according to ESPN.com.
The Trojans have three weeks to sort things out before taking on Wisconsin in the Holiday Bowl on December 30th.