In an offseason fraught with instability among his staff, USC head coach Lane Kiffin has finally solidified his assistant coaching situation.
On Saturday, Kiffin announced the hiring of three new coaches to his staff: Mike Summers, Tommie Robinson and Mike Ekeler. Summers will be the offensive line coach and running game coordinator, Robinson will be the passing game coordinator and running backs coach, and Ekeler will be the linebackers coach.
“I am excited to have completed the reconstruction of our staff,” Kiffin said in a statement. “It was a very exhaustive and thorough process. Mike Summers, Tommie Robinson and Mike Ekeler bring extensive coaching backgrounds to the Trojan program. They all are looking forward to start working with our players immediately.”
Summers has 33 years of coaching experience, with all but one season at the college ranks. He has primarily served as an offensive line coach but has also been an offensive coordinator. He has had career stops at Arkansas, Louisville, Kentucky, Oregon State and Ohio.
This past January, he was hired as Western Kentucky’s offensive line coach before coming to USC. In 2010, when he served as offensive line coach and run game coordinator, the Wildcats averaged nearly 140 rushing yards per game and scored the third-most points in school history with 406.
“Mike Summers has been an integral part of many high-powered offenses, including one that led the nation in scoring,” Kiffin said. “I was particularly impressed by how highly regarded he is by fellow coaches and by the players he has coached.”
Robinson has coached running backs for the Arizona Cardinals over the past three years. In 2011, he helped Beanie Wells become the first player in franchise history to rush for 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Prior to his stint in Arizona, Robinson coached at Georgia Tech for four years, with one year as wide receivers coach and three years with tight ends. Other stops in Robinson’s college coaching career include Oklahoma State, UNLV, Utah State, TCU and Arkansas. From 1998 to 2000, he helped coach receivers and special teams for the Dallas Cowboys, where he worked with Hall of Famer Michael Irvin and helped the team win the NFC East title in 1998.
“Tommie Robinson is a veteran who not only is an effective coach and teacher, but also is known for developing great relationships with his running backs,” Kiffin said. “I know he will do that here and hold our players accountable on and off the field.”
Ekeler last coached at Indiana, where he was the team’s co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for two years. Prior to that, he spent three years as Nebraska’s linebackers coach and contributed to a defense that, in 2010, ranked third nationally in pass efficiency defense, fifth in pass defense, ninth in scoring defense and 11th in total defense. The Huskers won the Big 12 North Division title each year he was on staff.
He coached three years as a defensive graduate assistant at LSU from 2005 to 2007. LSU ranked third nationally in total defense each year he was on staff and won the 2007 BCS national championship. Prior to that, Ekeler was a graduate assistant at Oklahoma for two seasons, during which the Sooners lost in the national championship game, once to USC in 2005.
Ekeler played at Kansas State under current KSU coach Bill Snyder from 1991 to 1994. He was appointed team captain by Snyder in 1994 and is the only player ever appointed captain by Snyder during his tenure at the school.
“I have followed Mike Ekeler’s career and have been very impressed with what he has accomplished on and off the field,” Kiffin said. “He will bring intensity, energy and command to our linebacker group. He is also a proven recruiter on the national level.”
Additionally, Kiffin announced that James Cregg will remain as offensive line coach, while associate head coach/special teams coordinator John Baxter will also coach tight ends. In addition, quarterbacks coach Clay Helton added the title of offensive coordinator.