While it hasn't been official yet by the athletic department, USC Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin finalized his coaching staff by hiring former Kentucky assistant, Tee Martin, who will take the same position he had at Kentucky and fill in as the wide receiver coach at USC.
Kiffin now has a full staff to be ready to coach players for spring training, which is right around the corner as players are finishing winter workouts.
The addition of Martin was the final piece of the puzzle as former assistant coaches, linebacker coach Joe Barry and wide receiver coach Ted Gilmore, headed over to the NFL to coach the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, respectively. Graduate Assistant Sammy Knight filled in as the defensive backs coach when former secondary coach Willie Mack Garza resigned from his post last August, but it is unknown if he will return to his spot as a graduate assistant.
Let's take a look at the coaches that filled in the vacant coaching positions Lane Kiffin hired this week:
Sanders was the secondary coach for Nebraska before resigning on February 3, 2011. He will replace Knight as the secondary coach and has already introduced himself to his players. With the reaction from safety Jawanza Starling, he may have made a solid first impression:
Just got out of our first meeting with coach sanders...all I can say is that this year is going to be exciting I'm #hyped— Jawanza Starling (@JayStar_29) February 14, 2012
Since taking over as secondary coach for Nebraska in 2008, the Cornhuskers' defensive backs improved their play drastically, from 8 interceptions in 2007 to 12 in 2008, his first year. In 2009, the defensive backs caught 20 interceptions, good for second in the Big 12 conference, and 19 in 2010, tied for first. Sanders has ties with Monte Kiffin as Bo Pelini, the current head coach at Nebraska, was one of Monte's disciple's.
The hiring of Hazelton was a mild surprise. Kiffin had stated that he'd like to hire coaches with experience. However, Hazelton's only experience in coaching comes at the FCS level. He was the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at North Dakota State. Monte was responsible for hiring the defensive coaches and Hazelton's link to Monte stems from his former superior, NDSU head coach Craig Bohl, a Nebraska alum. Since taking over as defensive coordinator in 2010, the NDSU defense was its strength and made it to the FCS quarter finals in 2010 and winning the championship in 2011.
Hazelton's defense also defeated a USC 2011 opponent and Division-I school, Minnesota, at Minnesota on Sept. 2 by a score of 37-24. NDSU only surrendered 71 yards passing and 144 yards rushing.
Martin's popularity grew as the former Tennesee quarterback help win the National Championship in 1998, something Peyton Manning couldn't do in his four years at UT. The former wide receivers coach from Kentucky is widely known to be a strong recruiter and analysts say this was a solid hire for USC. Recruiting expert Greg Biggins noted on Twitter, "Tee Martin is HUGE hire for USC, traveled with him on the Nike Camp tour for 2 years, great football mind, monster recruiter, knows the game."
For more news and information regarding USC football and the coaching staff, be sure to read Conquest Chronicles.