The USC Trojans have hired Clancy Pendergast as their new defensive coordinator.
Pendergast has a background in both the NFL and college football, most recently as defensive coordinator at Cal from 2010 to '12. He was the defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals when they advanced to the Super Bowl in 2009. Pendergast spent one year at USC as a defensive assistant in 1992.
One of the interesting elements of this hire is the fact that Pendergast has primarily used a 3-4 defense in the past, while the Trojans have run a 4-3 in recent years. There has been a lot of speculation that USC would look to employ a 3-4 look in the future as a way to better combat the spread offenses run by several Pac-12 schools.
USC coach Lane Kiffin was forced to look for a new defensive coordinator after his father, Monte, resigned -- in large part due to issues with the spread during his three-year tenure with the Trojans. Monte Kiffin has since joined the Dallas Cowboys as their defensive coordinator.
"Clancy is a perfect fit for us," said Lane Kiffin. "He is a very experienced and successful defensive coordinator. He plays an attacking-style defense with multiple looks and, having spent the last three years in the Pac-12, he knows how to defend the various kinds of offenses that we see in this conference.
"What was particularly appealing to me was how he took a Cal defense that was seventh in the Pac-12 in total defense the year before he arrived and then led the league his first two years. That's our goal here, to have that same kind of impact. I also liked that he has coached at the highest level, getting to the Super Bowl in the NFL."
One game that seems to highlight Pendergast's time at Cal came against Oregon in 2010. The Ducks entered that matchup averaging 54.7 points per game, but the Golden Bears held them well below that mark in a 15-13 Oregon win. Cal also led the Pac-12 in total defense and pass defense in each of his first two years at the school.
The 3-4 allows for an additional outside linebacker with the ability to run from sideline to sideline, as opposed to an extra defensive lineman in the 4-3. The 3-4 also places slightly different responsibilities on the defensive linemen.
Pendergast has been known to apply pressure using creative and balanced schemes from all angles of the defense while also utilizing elements of the 4-3 at times.
There could be some interesting personnel decisions involved in such a switch. Current USC commits Jason Hatcher and Torrodney Prevot could be candidates for the outside linebacker spot, and two-year incumbent starter Dion Bailey could see his request granted to move back to his original safety spot.