Unpack the Pac Offseason Edition: What does Kliff Kingsbury’s hire mean for USC?

Former NFL head coach Kliff Kingsbury joins USC’s staff.

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“Unpack, the Pac Offseason Edition” is a column by Jacob Hare that discusses offseason football news in the Pac-12 conference.

Last week I wrote about the top three assistant coaches to watch for this season, but I did not expect to be writing about Kliff Kingsbury joining USC’s staff as an assistant coach this year.

Kingsbury was hired as an offensive analyst at USC, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero.

If you remember, Kingsbury was at USC for less than two months in December 2018 when he was hired as the Trojan’s offensive coordinator. However, after he started to generate head coaching buzz in the NFL, Kingsbury’s relationship with the university turned sour. Former USC athletic director Lynn Swann refused to let Kingsbury interview with any NFL team, so Kingsbury resigned after not even being with the team for only a month.

Kingsbury was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals for the past four seasons. His tenure with the Cardinals included a playoff berth, but he had three losing seasons. Last year was the final straw as rumbles began to circle that his relationship with star quarterback Kyler Murray had reached a rough patch. Murray signed a 5-year $230 million extension with the Cardinals this past summer, which forced the team to stay committed to him. This decision left Kingsbury as the scapegoat.

It should feel good that Kingsbury was able to work things out with the university and return to USC. Kingsbury’s track record with quarterbacks is superb and features: Case Keenum, Johnny Manziel, Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes. Kingsbury was the one who developed Mahomes at Texas Tech and helped him become both the 10th overall pick in the draft and the best quarterback in the NFL.

Kingsbury now joins another quarterback whisperer, Lincoln Riley, as the two will help Caleb Williams on his path to another Heisman and a national championship for his team.

In terms of recruiting for the future, this hire is significant. If Riley and Kingsbury walk into your living room as an offensive player, it would be nearly impossible not to want to play in their system.

It should also help USC to have the voice of a former head coach in the room, as he knows and sees things that college-level coaches wouldn’t realize. This is a slam dunk hire for USC, and fans should feel really good about Kingsbury joining the staff.

“Unpack the Pac Offseason Edition” runs every Wednesday.