3 min Read

Chris Claiborne leaves USC for ASU

USC lost a notable piece of its defensive staff on Monday, as offensive quality control analyst and, more importantly, USC football legend Chris Claiborne was hired away by Arizona State and will be the new linebackers coach for the Sun Devils.

This is big news for both USC and Arizona State.

USC made two notable hires to its quality control staff a little less than a year ago, bringing in former linebackers Claiborne and Hayes Pullard. With Pullard departing for the New York Jets as a defensive assistant, now both are gone from USC.

The Claiborne loss hurts USC in a big way on its own. There was so much positivity surrounding his hiring. He was a former college standout with plenty of NFL experience and his establishment of a high-profile 7 on 7 team in Southern California, as well as years as both an assistant and head coach at the high school level made him a major asset to USC’s recruiting and on-field efforts.

Now, not only does USC lose that, but Arizona State gains it. Claiborne joins Arizona State defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce and defensive backs coach Chris Hawkins as a three-headed recruiting monster for the Sun Devils in their quest to attack Southern California and the West region in a big way.

As always, USC is bigger than one assistant coach or a quality control analyst. And as always, if USC is doing things right, it doesn’t matter what other Pac-12 programs are doing, the Trojans should be able to control the conference. But this continues to help establish a fairly sizable hurdle out there in Tempe, as Claiborne’s future in coaching appears to be very bright.

Arizona State just became an even more interesting destination for a number of local prospects and the Sun Devils are likely going to get more than their typical share from the area. But USC has plenty of momentum as well, and with Korey Foreman signed and Domani Jackson committed, the top two overall prospects in the state for the two current recruiting classes are future Trojans.

The move for Claiborne is completely understandable. This gets him on the field as a full-time assistant coach and that’s the next step up the coaching ladder he clearly wants to climb. It’s unfortunate for USC fans that they’ll need to watch him take that next step with a Pac-12 South rival.

The next steps for USC will be interesting. The Trojans have just four full-time defensive assistant coaches and a staff opening to add another assistant coach. Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando coaches the linebacker position, so the potential was there for him to give up some or all of the positional duties and hire Claiborne as a linebackers coach. But USC’s opening came when tight ends coach John David Baker went to Ole Miss to become the passing game coordinator, so the coaching hole exists at the tight end position. It wouldn’t be surprising to see USC bring in a tight ends coach as a replacement. It seems as though if there was anybody worth changing the defensive coaching dynamic for, it would have been Claiborne.

Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.

More Articles By Erik