With spring practice rapidly approaching, ESPN.com chatted with Tee Martin to see how he's adjusting to life as the USC's offensive coordinator after his move from wide-receivers coach and passing-game coordinator.
How has the promotion to offensive coordinator changed your responsibilities in the offseason?
Martin: Of course, you have more responsibility because now you’re kind of the organizer of everything as opposed to having a role in it. My role over the years has been passing-game coordinator, so a lot of it had been focusing on that, but I have been on a staff with a lot of playcallers that ... we all did everything in the same room. Whether it was Lane Kiffin or Steve Sarkisian or Clay Helton, we all worked together whether it was run game, pass game, protections. It was always around it, now it’s just my opportunity to be the coordinator and I’m surrounded with great coaches. We’ve all had thoughts and shared input in a way that we’ve redesigned our system.
When you say "redesigned the system," are there any major philosophical changes that you’re implementing?
Martin: No, we’re going to do what we do. There’s only a couple things you can do: throw it, run it, protect the quarterback, not turn the ball over. We don’t have a slogan about our offense that we want to put out there or a label for it. We want a USC offense. We’re going to have our offensive line returning except for one person, we have our running backs returning and our tight ends are back and all of our wide receivers are back. We bring back very experienced guys that have played a lot and played well. So we'll built around it. We’re going to call plays based on what we do the best.
You guys will be changing the terminology; what are the reasons for that?
Martin: It’s just time. Especially in this league you have so many teams that are good at things like figuring out signals, and we have some staff members going to places in the conference and just over time the league catches up with things like signals or terminology and so on and so forth. Part of it is, it was just time to change. And part of it was, with the additions of Tyson Helton, Neil Callaway and Tommie Robinson and then myself. There’s a lot of thoughts and things that we’re doing schematically that I’ve done at other places that we have not done here. It’s a lot of all of us combined, what we feel like is the best chance to give our offense to be successful.
What has it been like working with the new coaches?
Martin: It’s been great. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to be around. As a first-year playcaller at the University of Southern California, I couldn’t ask for a better mixture of new thoughts, new ideas as well as 30 years', 40 years' experience in Tommie Robinson and Neil Callaway. We have a great balance of that. Myself and Tyson, we’re the same age. We’re the younger guys and then John Baxter and Neil Callaway and Tommie Robinson are the more experienced guys and they’ve been good everywhere they’ve been. And so it’s a great group of guys as a younger coach to learn from and work with and put a system together with.
What are you guys hoping to accomplish in spring ball?
Martin: For some of us, in terms of our newer staff members, they’re going to be in the phase of getting to know the guys and seeing what we can do. Me having been here, I feel like I have a bead on that and it’s going to be the adjustments from them. What they feel we can do better and adjusting from there and getting out of spring, things like execution. I feel like a year ago -- and this is always the case -- when we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot -- whether it’s penalties, whether it be lack of focus and execution -- we’re hard to stop. It’s not like we have to fix something that was broken. We have a pretty good thing going and we just want to upgrade it and enhance it.
Do you find that you’ll have to spend more time with the other position groups [other than receivers] now that you’re the OC, or were you already talking with those guys enough to have the relationships in place?
Martin: I pretty much have relationships with all of the guys, because when you’ve been here this amount of time and you’ve been an offensive coach, you had something to do with, if not recruited, most of the guys on offense, if not all of them. I spend more personal time with the receivers because that’s the group that I coach, but the quarterbacks I’m always talking with, the running backs, the offensive line. We have a good group of young men that they don’t mind coming up. Our doors are always open as a staff and you see their faces all the time. During conditioning times and stuff like that when we’re doing team functions, I’m always spending time with the other positions and seeing how they’re doing and getting to know them as people.
Note: This is a condensed version of the entire interview.