USC coordinators Clancy Pendergast, John Baxter ousted

USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast and special teams coordinator John Baxter both are out, a day after the Trojans finished their season at 8-5.

The team announced Saturday that neither coach will return to Clay Helton's staff in 2020. Both moves had been expected for several weeks.

USC lost to Iowa 49-24 in the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl. Iowa's Ihmir Smith-Marsette, the game's offensive MVP, had a 98-yard kick return touchdown, continuing a trend of special-teams struggles for USC this season. USC's defense ranks 78th nationally in points allowed and 77th in yards allowed.

Pendergast had been USC's defensive coordinator for the past four seasons under Helton. He also spent the 2013 season as USC's defensive coordinator, when Helton served as the team's offensive coordinator. Baxter was also in his second stint on USC's staff and had overseen the Trojans' special teams in eight of the past 10 seasons.

In retaining Helton, new USC athletic director Mike Bohn said the coaching staff would be evaluated and potential changes could be made. Pendergast and Baxter likely won't be the only assistants departing Helton's staff. Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell recently agreed to a new three-year, $3.6 million contract with the school.

Helton, in a statement, thanked Pendergast and Baxter and noted the team's improvement from a 5-7 record last year. He added, "In evaluating our team's performance this year and after consulting with AD Mike Bohn, it is evident that these changes are necessary."