USC hires Todd Orlando to be Helton’s defensive coordinator

NCAA Football

LOS ANGELES (AP)Todd Orlando has been named Southern California’s defensive coordinator.

Clay Helton announced the hiring Friday of the veteran assistant who spent the last three seasons as Texas’ defensive coordinator.

Orlando was fired by the Longhorns on Dec. 1 after three seasons with coach Tom Herman, who brought Orlando with him to Austin from the University of Houston. Orlando was among the highest-paid assistant coaches in the nation during his tenure at Texas.

Helton fired defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast on Dec. 28 after four seasons together. One day earlier, the Trojans allowed 49 points while losing the Holiday Bowl to Iowa and finishing 8-5.

While Pendergast had success during his tenure, his most recent defense at USC finished its season ranked 78th in the nation in total defense.

Orlando’s Longhorns finished 97th in the nation in total defense, routinely giving up big plays at important moments during Texas’ disappointing 7-5 campaign. Orlando’s teams played an aggressive, blitzing style that worked particularly well in his first season, but declined amid personnel changes as his tenure went on.

Orlando accepted a job as Texas Tech’s linebackers coach and assistant head coach on Jan. 8, but he soon emerged as a top candidate to join Helton’s staff alongside offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, a former Texas Tech quarterback.

”He brings a passion, energy, toughness and discipline to his coaching and those characteristics were evident in our discussions,” Helton said in a statement. ”His defensive system poses an extreme challenge to offenses.”

Helton also interviewed former USC assistant Joe Barry for the job, but Barry stayed with the Los Angeles Rams as their assistant head coach.

The 48-year-old Orlando is entering his 16th season as an FBS defensive coordinator. He also has held the job at Utah State, Connecticut and Florida International.

Helton still hasn’t hired a special teams coordinator to replace John Baxter, who was fired along with Pendergast. Helton kept his job when new USC athletic director Mike Bohn declined to make a major upheaval in his first months on the job.

The West Coast’s winningest college football program is 13-12 in the last two seasons under Helton, who won a Rose Bowl and a Pac-12 championship during the previous two seasons.

Harrell was rewarded for a strong first year as Helton’s offensive coordinator with a multiyear contract extension.

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP

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