Former Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando has been named the defensive coordinator at USC, head coach Clay Helton announced Friday.
The news comes after USC’s Holiday Bowl loss to Iowa and an inconsistent USC defense led defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast to be relieved of his duties. Pendergast coached at USC for four seasons.
“When you’re looking at a job, the No. 1 thing is who you’re working for,” Orlando said in a video on USC Athletics’ Twitter. “The second part is, can you win a championship? And there’s no doubt in my mind that we will get that done. And then the third thing is whether or not you can sustain it through recruiting. And when you look at the great state of California and just look at Los Angeles itself, just the talent that’s in this area — we’ll be able to sustain championships.”
Orlando was fired by Texas on Dec. 1 along with many other members of the Longhorns’ coaching staff. He accepted a job as Texas Tech’s assistant head coach and linebackers coach earlier this month before backing out to coach at USC.
Before his three-year stint at Texas, Orlando was a defensive coordinator for Houston, Florida International, Utah State and Connecticut. At Texas, Orlando was able to help the Longhorns win three straight bowl games, including this year’s Alamo Bowl victory against Utah. Texas also competed in the Big 12 Championship game in 2018 but fell to Oklahoma and current Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray.
“We are excited to have Todd join our Trojan football program,” Helton said in a press release. “He is an experienced and successful defensive coordinator who has made an impact everywhere he has coached. He brings a passion, energy, toughness and discipline to his coaching and those characteristics were evident in our discussions. His defensive system poses an extreme challenge to offenses.”
Orlando will inherit a USC defense that ranked 78th in the FBS in yards allowed per game this season with 408.7, just ahead of South Alabama and Liberty. Texas’ defense, however, ranked 97th in the same statistic with 431.5 yards allowed per game.
“I really believe that in today’s game, creating negative yardage plays, attacking the quarterback, turnovers, all those things go into creating explosive plays on defense,” Orlando said. “We’ll see how much we can handle going into spring football, but expect us to really do two things: run and hit.”
The move comes after Helton reportedly failed to lure Los Angeles Rams assistant head coach and linebackers coach Joe Barry to the position, according to ESPN. Barry, a former linebacker at USC in the early 1990s, was a graduate assistant for the Trojans from 1994-95 and returned to campus in 2010 as a linebackers coach under Lane Kiffin, the same year Helton was hired as a quarterbacks coach for the Trojans. Barry was presumed the favorite for the USC defensive coordinator job throughout the search until deciding to stay with the Rams.
Recently extended offensive coordinator Graham Harrell interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles for their offensive coordinator opening, but The Athletic reported Monday Harrell would stay in Los Angeles, so USC’s main coaching staff seems to be set for the 2020 season opener against Alabama in Arlington, Texas on Sep. 5.
“I had a chance to see the guys work out,” Orlando said. “Excited to get a chance to work with them, excited for them to get through my office so we can sit down, talk about things that are outside of football, embrace each other and get to work.”