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Report: Clancy Pendergast not expected to return to USC

Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
USC's Clancy Pendergast last coached in the NFL in 2009.

USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast is not expected to be retained by new head coach Steve Sarkisian and will draw interest from NFL teams, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.

Pendergast, 46, oversaw a remarkable turnaround this season for the Trojans by installing his aggressive 3-4 defense. USC led the Pac-12 in total defense, allowing 335.2 yards per game, and finished second in the conference in scoring defense (allowed 21.1 points per game) and rushing defense (allowed 120.6 yards per game). The Trojans were third in the FBS in red-zone defense.

Nine of 14 opponents scored two or fewer offensive touchdowns against USC, including Fresno State and its high-powered passing offense in a 45-20 Las Vegas Bowl triumph for the Trojans.

Pendergast did so with an extremely limited roster, losing top pass rusher Morgan Breslin for more than half the season and using just 13 players in a 20-17 upset of eventual Pac-12 champion Stanford.

Working directly with the defensive backs, some of Pendergast's best work came with cornerback Josh Shaw, a converted safety who intercepted four passes and stabilized a questionable secondary, and safety Su'a Cravens, a talented true freshman who also intercepted four passes. Sophomore defensive lineman Leonard Williams also thrived under Pendergast, posting 74 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks.

Pendergast served as defensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals before moving to the college ranks in 2010.

The expected exit of Pendergast presumably means the wrangling over Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox's buyout has been resolved and he will be following Sarkisian to USC after the Huskies play Friday in the Fight Hunger Bowl.

Considering the success Pendergast had this season in cleaning up one historically bad Monte Kiffin-led defense, perhaps the Dallas Cowboys would be well served to follow the same approach next season.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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