Coaching carousel: Noel Mazzone could leave UCLA and Clancy Pendergast could return to USC


Noel Mazzone appears out at UCLA. He has been offered a job as offensive coordinator at Texas A&M, similar to the post he held with the Bruins.

Clancy Pendergast could be returning to USC. The Trojans have offered to bring him back as defensive coordinator, the post he held in 2013 before Steve Sarkisian was hired as USC’s head coach and brought Justin Wilcox with him.

That’s what’s known.

But with the college football coaching carousel still turning, speculation abounds and several familiar names could be headed for new schools, or at least new jobs, in the coming few weeks.


Let’s start at UCLA, where, for a couple of reasons, there should be no shortage of candidates interested in replacing Mazzone.

Mazzone was highly paid — he made more than $850,000 last season, according to public documents — and whoever will be calling the shots for UCLA’s offense will have at his disposal one of the top young talents in college football, quarterback Josh Rosen, who will be a sophomore next season.

One option for Bruins Coach Jim Mora would be to promote Kennedy Polamalu, who has served as running backs coach the last two seasons and assisted with the offensive game plan for the Foster Farms Bowl when Mazzone was slowed because of a health situation.

Another option would be to try to steal Marques Tuiasosopo from USC.

Tuiasosopo has moved around the Pac-12 the last five seasons, spending time at UCLA as a graduate assistant and a tight ends coach, then a season at Washington as quarterbacks coach, before coming with Sarkisian to USC, where he coached tight ends and then took over quarterbacks when Clay Helton was named interim coach.

Helton would like to retain Tuiasosopo, but the Trojans have not made an official announcement.

If not offensive coordinator, UCLA could consider Tuiasosopo as quarterbacks coach if Taylor Mazzone leaves that post to join his father on Texas A&M’s staff.


Helton needs a defensive coordinator and at least two more position coaches after he fired Wilcox, Chris Wilson, Keith Heyward and Bob Connelly after the Pac-12 championship game in December.

This week, he filled two vacancies, announcing the hiring of his brother, Tyson Helton, as running backs coach and passing game coordinator, and Neil Callaway as offensive line coach.

Tyson Helton and Callaway were both key assistants at Western Kentucky, which had one of college football’s top offenses last season.

Pendergast could return to USC as defensive coordinator after spending this season as linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers. However, Pendergast is considered a strong candidate for a similar job at Oregon, which is also reportedly considering Wilcox, a Ducks alumnus.

Another candidate for the Oregon job is Peter Sirmon, who was USC’s linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator last season and served as interim defensive coordinator for the Trojans in the Holiday Bowl after Helton fired Wilcox. Sirmon also played for the Ducks.

Whoever is coming and going is likely to be in place by the middle of this month because of recruiting. The final contact period with recruits before the Feb. 3 signing day begins Jan. 14.

USC did make one official move Thursday, bringing back John Baxter as special teams coordinator. Baxter held that post at Michigan this past season. He was USC’s associate head coach and special teams coordinator from 2010-2013 after a 13-year span as an assistant at Fresno State.

As for Sarkisian, he is reportedly interested in returning to the NFL as an offensive coordinator or quarterbacks coach. Sarkisian filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against USC last month that said the coach was sober after completing inpatient treatment, was not taking prescription medicine, was sleeping without trouble for the first time in 20 years, and was ready to resume coaching.