Bailey on Barry: 'We've still got Coach Kiffin, we'll be OK'

A week ago Friday, USC linebacker Dion Bailey got a text from his position coach, Joe Barry, to come in for an afternoon meeting at Heritage Hall.

Barry didn't specify what the meeting was for. But Bailey checked with his linebacker teammates and knew coming in that they would all be there.

"I was wondering what it'd be about," Bailey said this week. "Because we're in the offseason, and we don't meet in the offseason. So I knew it had to be something."

Then Barry delivered the news to them directly and quickly: He'd be leaving the Trojans, effective immediately, for a similar position with the NFL's San Diego Chargers. He said it was a tough decision to make but, in the end, a "business decision."

Player reaction was, as expected, not great. Younger players took to Twitter to express surprise, and the entire linebacking corps was at least somewhat shocked. But in the week since, they've come around some.

"It's just the nature of the business, and I understand that," Bailey said after a team throwing session this week. "I've been around the game for a long time. I understand that people are trying to move up. Especially at a university like this, no one's trying to be a position coach forever.

"He said he wants to be a head coach in the NFL someday, and you gotta become a position coach in the NFL to become a defensive coordinator in the NFL to become a head coach."

Barry already was a defensive coordinator in the NFL, with the Detroit Lions for two seasons. But that didn't go so well. He was then coaching linebackers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and had another year left on his contract before he chose to come to USC and coach under Monte Kiffin.

Now, he's done the same thing with the Trojans, leaving a year before his contract was set to expire.

For Bailey, Hayes Pullard, Lamar Dawson and others, the move was a marked reminder that coaches can leave at any time for any place.

"I've never really experienced this before," Bailey said. "But we're handling this well, and it was a blessing for him, that he got an opportunity to coach a team that's so close to where he already is. If I (were) him, I wouldn't have passed up on the opportunity either.

"We've still got Coach (Monte) Kiffin, we'll be OK."