Sources: USC working toward hiring Todd Orlando as defensive coordinator

Sam Cooper
FORT WORTH, TEXAS - OCTOBER 26:  Defensive coach Todd Orlando of the Texas Longhorns reacts during play against the TCU Horned Frogs in the second half at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 26, 2019 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
USC is working to hire ex-Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

USC is closing in on a defensive coordinator hire.

The Trojans are working toward a deal to bring in Todd Orlando as their defensive coordinator, sources told Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel.

Texas coach Tom Herman fired Orlando after three seasons as the Longhorns’ defensive coordinator. Orlando’s removal was part of an array of staff changes for Herman. From there, Orlando was quickly hired by Texas Tech as linebackers coach and assistant head coach. But with a more prominent role at USC available, Orlando’s time in Lubbock will likely be short-lived.

Orlando has a long track record as a defensive coordinator, dating back 15 years. His first defensive coordinator job was at UConn from 2005-10. From there, he had the DC jobs at Florida International and Utah State and then rose to prominence alongside Herman at Houston in 2015 and 2016. Orlando followed Herman from Houston to Austin to coach the Longhorns.

Should the hire come to fruition, Orlando would replace Clancy Pendergast as Clay Helton’s defensive coordinator. Helton fired Pendergast on Dec. 28 after the Trojans were blown out by Iowa in the Holiday Bowl. Pendergast had served as USC’s DC since 2016 when Helton was promoted from interim to full-time head coach.

USC reportedly retaining Graham Harrell as OC

Helton, after surprisingly being retained by new USC athletic director Mike Bohn, made a number of changes to his staff on the heels of an 8-5 record for the 2019 season. One assistant he was able to retain, however, was offensive coordinator Graham Harrell.

Harrell agreed to a new three-year contract to stay at USC last month, but later drew interest from the Philadelphia Eagles for their vacant coordinator position. Harrell reportedly interviewed with Eagles head coach Doug Pederson but is expected to stay with the Trojans, several outlets reported on Monday. The news was first reported by The Athletic.

Under Harrell, the Trojans moved toward an Air Raid-style offense and had significant passing success with freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis. The team finished sixth in the country in passing offense, averaging 335.8 yards per game.

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