Clancy Pendergast Named USC's Defensive Coordinator

    Clancy Pendergast

    Jan. 18, 2013

    Clancy Pendergast, who has coordinated some of the top defenses in the NFL and in college during the past nine years, has been named USC's defensive coordinator, Trojan head coach Lane Kiffin announced today (Jan. 18).

    "Clancy is a perfect fit for us," said Kiffin. "He is a very experienced and successful defensive coordinator. He plays an attacking-style defense with multiple looks and, having spent the last three years in the Pac-12, he knows how to defend the various kinds of offenses that we see in this conference.

    "What was particularly appealing to me was how he took a Cal defense that was seventh in the Pac-12 in total defense the year before he arrived and then led the league his first two years. That's our goal here, to have that same kind of impact. I also liked that he has coached at the highest level, getting to the Super Bowl in the NFL."

    The 45-year-old Pendergast, who spent 1992 as a defensive assistant at USC, is known for his aggressive defenses that use creative schemes to create pressure.

    He spent the past three years (2010-12) as the defensive coordinator at California. The Golden Bears led the conference in total defense, pass defense and fewest first downs allowed in each of his first two seasons while producing nine NFL players, including first rounder Cameron Jordan, and three All-Conference first teamers, including 2011 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Mychal Kendricks.

    In 2010, Cal topped the Pac-10 in sacks and was in the league's top five in scoring defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and opponent third down conversions while holding four opponents to 10 or less points (the most by a Golden Bear defense since 1968) and three foes to under 200 total yards.

    In 2011, Cal was in the Pac-12's top three in rushing defense, pass efficiency defense, sacks and tackles for loss while notching 23 turnovers and 34 sacks and holding five teams under 70 rushing yards. The Golden Bears played in the Holiday Bowl.



    His young 2012 Cal defense, with only five returning starters, held the wide-open offenses of UCLA and Washington State to just 17 points each.

    Pendergast went to Cal after six seasons as an NFL defensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals (2004-08), including when the Cardinals won the 2008 NFC title to earn a berth in Super Bowl XLIII, and Kansas City Chiefs (2009). His squads had 176 takeaways during those six years.

    In his five seasons with Arizona, his defense finished 20th or better in the final NFL rankings 37 times in categories such as points allowed, total yards allowed, rushing yards allowed, passing yards allowed, yards allowed per play, opponents third down percentage, sacks, interceptions and fumbles recovered.

    Cardinal linemen Bertrand Berry and Darnell Dockett were Pro Bowlers in his defense. He also worked with Arizona's secondary, coaching safety Adrian Wilson to a pair of Pro Bowls.

    In 2004, Arizona was 12th in the NFL in total defense and scoring defense, as well as in the top five in third down defense and fumble recoveries, and it forced 30 turnovers. Linebacker Karlos Dansby was an All-Rookie honoree.

    His 2005 unit was in the NFL's top 10 in total defense, third down efficiency, first downs allowed and fumble recoveries, while his 2006 defense forced 33 turnovers, the most by the Cardinals since 1998 and tied for fifth in the NFL that year.

    In 2007, Arizona was ninth in the NFL in run defense and set a modern-day NFL record by holding the Detroit Lions to minus 18 rushing yards. Its six scoring interception returns and 551 interception return yards that season were franchise records as the Cardinals tied for 10th in the NFL in interceptions.

    In 2008, Arizona tied for fifth in the league with 30 takeaways, including forcing 13 turnovers during its playoff run.

    In 2009 with Kansas City, a young Chiefs defense had 28 takeaways and 22 sacks. The unit improved significantly in sacks, rushing touchdowns allowed and third down conversions from the previous year.

    Pendergast began his NFL coaching career in 1995 as a defensive assistant/quality control coach with the Houston Oilers.

    He then spent seven seasons (1996-2002) with the Dallas Cowboys as part of staffs that won two NFC East titles (1996 and 1998) and made three NFC playoff appearances (1996, 1998-99). He was a defensive assistant and quality control coach his first four seasons (1996-99), then oversaw Dallas' nickel defense packages in 2000 before coaching the defensive backs in his final two campaigns (2001-02). The Cowboys were third in the NFL in pass defense in 2000 and 2001. He tutored safety Roy Williams, who was an All-Rookie selection in 2002 and an All-Pro in 2003, as well as All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl safety Darren Woodson.

    He then was the linebackers coach with the Cleveland Browns in 2003.

    Pendergast started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Mississippi State in 1991 before becoming a Trojan defensive assistant in 1992 under head coach Larry Smith. He then was a graduate assistant/tight ends at Oklahoma for two seasons (1993-94). Each of those college teams played in a bowl, as Mississippi State qualified for the Liberty Bowl, USC for the Freedom Bowl and Oklahoma for the John Hancock and Copper Bowls.

    He prepped at Tolleson (Ariz.) High, then received his bachelor's degree in agriculture from Arizona in 1990.

    Born on Nov. 29, 1967, he is single.