Joe Barry stays with Rams, turning down opportunity to join USC

Rams linebacker coach Joe Barry works with Cory Littleton during a practice.
(Scott Cunningham / Getty Images)

Joe Barry, the Rams’ linebackers coach for the last three seasons, turned down the opportunity to become USC’s defensive coordinator and signed a new contract to remain with the Rams, a person with knowledge of the situation said Thursday.

Barry took himself out of consideration for the USC job after discussing the parameters of a contract with a school official, the person said.

USC coach Clay Helton remains in search of a replacement for Clancy Pendergast, who was fired after a 49-24 Holiday Bowl loss to Iowa.

The Rams’ staff has been shuffled since the conclusion of a disappointing 9-7 season that ended with the team missing the playoffs for the first time in coach Sean McVay’s three seasons. McVay did not retain defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and running backs coach Skip Peete. Special teams coordinator John Fassel left to join the Dallas Cowboys’ staff, and Peete this week also joined the Cowboys staff.

McVay hired Brandon Staley as defensive coordinator, setting up the possibility of Barry’s departure to USC, where he played linebacker in 1992 and 1993, served as a graduate assistant and later coached with Helton as part of Lane Kiffin’s Trojans staff in 2010.


Head coach Matt LaFleur, who has the Packers one step from the Super Bowl, had impact on Rams staff in 2017 and is facing mentor Kyle Shanahan in NFC championship.

As USC focused primarily on the NFL ranks to replace Pendergast, Barry emerged as one of its top candidates. He met with Helton on campus last week, but a person familiar with the search said that USC had continued considering other candidates.

The process had stalled in the days since Helton met with Barry, leaving many to wonder where USC’s coordinator search stood. Now, as Barry officially returns to the Rams, that search will move into its fourth week.

A few noteworthy options still remain. Kris Richard, who graduated from Gardena Serra High and played defensive back at USC, was not retained by the Cowboys’ new staff this week. He served as a graduate assistant under Pete Carroll, before following the former Trojans coach to the Seattle Seahawks.

Browns defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker could also be an option. Walker served as UCLA’s defensive coordinator from 2006 to 2008, before leaving to become New Mexico State’s coach.

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