Smith returns as an assistant, will call plays

USC said goodbye to one assistant coach and welcomed back another Tuesday.

A few hours after Nick Holt was introduced as Washington’s new defensive coordinator, USC Coach Pete Carroll announced that Carl Smith would return as quarterbacks coach and that he would also call plays.

“His background and his work with quarterbacks over the years gives us a tremendous asset,” Carroll said of Smith, a member of USC’s staff in 2004 and a former NFL offensive coordinator.

Smith’s hiring puts to rest a mystery that has shrouded the program since last month when Carroll promoted receivers coach John Morton to offensive coordinator after Steve Sarkisian was hired as Washington’s head coach. Carroll said at the time that he was undecided about who would take over Sarkisian’s play-calling duties.

On Tuesday, Carroll said Morton would run meetings and combine with Smith on game plans. Smith, who also will carry the title of assistant head coach for offense, will call the plays.


Morton said he was not disappointed with the arrangement.

“He’s bringing a wealth of knowledge and has been coaching for a long time,” Morton said of Smith. “I think it’s a good combination.”

Carroll is still deciding on a replacement for Holt, who left for a deal that will reportedly pay him $2.1 million over three years.

“We wish him the best,” Carroll said.

Carroll, who calls all defensive plays during games, is “considering everything, all the options,” in regard to a defensive coordinator. However, he ruled out serving in that role as he had before 2006.

“There’s a lot of people interested in this job,” Carroll said.

Secondary coach Rocky Seto and linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. are regarded as candidates within the program. Greg Robinson, recently fired as coach at Syracuse, is among Carroll’s former NFL colleagues who are available.

Gable update

Tailback C.J. Gable met with Carroll and remains undecided about whether he will return or turn pro.

During the season, Gable expressed frustration about the tailback rotation. Carroll told him it would work the same unless a player steps to the forefront during spring practice or training camp.

“He said, ‘It’s a good idea to go [pro] if you think you’re ready,’ ” Gable said. “I just have to think about it more and talk to my mom about it.”

Carroll also met with quarterback Mark Sanchez and defensive back Josh Pinkard to discuss the NFL draft.

Quick kicks

Mark Jackson, USC’s director of football operations from 2001 to 2004, will return as a senior associate athletic director in charge of football. A director of football operations also will be hired. . . . The Trojans begin spring semester classes next week.