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USC's coaching staff remains a work in progress

USC's coaching staff remains a work in progress
Peter Sirmon helps oversee a practice on Dec. 23 as USC prepared for the Holiday Bowl. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

USC Coach Clay Helton said after the Holiday Bowl that he wanted to finalize his coaching staff by mid-January.

That deadline is quickly approaching.

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Coaches can return to the road Thursday for a final contact period with recruits before signing day on Feb. 3.

Helton offered to retain Marques Tuiasosopo as quarterbacks coach, but Tuiasosopo is set to leave for a similar position at UCLA. He was a graduate assistant and tight ends coach for the Bruins before he joined Steve Sarkisian at Washington and followed him to USC.

It's likely Helton's brother, Tyson Helton, who was named running backs coach and passing game coordinator last week, will become quarterbacks coach, the same post he held at Western Kentucky.

An option to fill the running backs position could be Tommie Robinson. Robinson was well regarded in his lone season at USC in 2013, however, he was not retained by Sarkisian. Robinson has coached running backs at Texas the last two seasons.

Tee Martin was promoted to offensive coordinator before the Holiday Bowl and also will maintain his post with receivers.

Neil Callaway, who coached the last three seasons at Western Kentucky, will take over the offensive line.

On defense, Clancy Pendergast is expected to return as coordinator. Pendergast spent the last two seasons as linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49ers after he was not retained by Sarkisian. Pendergast also coached the defensive backs in his season at USC.

Peter Sirmon's name was in the candidate pool to become defensive coordinator at Oregon, but the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator is likely to stay at USC for a third season, despite the departure of his former Oregon teammate and coaching friend Justin Wilcox.

Johnny Nansen's experience coaching defensive line, linebackers, running backs and special teams makes it easy for him to plug a hole on Helton's staff.

John Baxter will return as special teams coordinator, the same post he held at USC for four seasons until he was not retained by Sarkisian. Baxter coached this season at Michigan.

Questions or comments about USC? Email me at LNThiry@gmail.com or tweet @LindseyThiry and I will respond to select messages in a weekly USC Now mailbag.

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