Texas Football: USC targeting Pete Kwiatkowski for defensive coordinator

Pete Kwiatkowski, Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Pete Kwiatkowski, Texas football (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Third-year Texas football defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Pete Kwiatkowski has done a fantastic job with his unit this season. PK’s got the Texas defense leading the Big 12 in total defense and adjusted defensive efficiency this season (per ESPN).

The success the Longhorns defense found this season in PK’s third year at the helm has drawn interest from other teams in the Texas DC. A report from WeAreSC/On3 on Nov. 7 tabs PK as a potential target on the shortlist of defensive coordinator candidates for head coach Lincoln Riley and the USC Trojans.

USC reportedly looking at Texas football co-DC Pete Kwiatkowski as a candidate to replace Alex Grinch

While it was just a few days ago that Riley and the Trojans fired defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, WeAreSC reportedly has “reason to believe” that USC has already contacted PK to “gauge the interest” from both sides.

PK has ties to USC athletic director Jen Cohen, who was the AD at UW when he was the defensive coordinator for roughly a decade under then head coach Chris Petersen. PK was UW’s co-defensive coordinator from 2014 until the end of the 2020 season before head coach Steve Sarkisian hired him to be Texas’ co-DC early in the 2021 offseason.

Cohen, meanwhile, was the athletic director at Washington from 2016-2023.

WeAreSC says that while no hiring of a defensive coordinator who is in the midst of a potential run to the CFP and the Big 12 Championship Game would happen anytime soon, they do believe PK is a “primary target” for Riley and the Trojans to replace Grinch as DC.

Grinch dismissed after less than two full seasons at USC

USC fired second-year defensive coordinator Grinch after the Trojans defense allowed 52 points last week in a loss to the No. 5 ranked Washington Huskies at home at The Coliseum in LA.

But it wasn’t just the 52 points that the USC defense allowed last weekend that led to the firing of Grinch. USC struggled on defense in multiple games this season, allowing over 40 points five times. The Trojans ranked 10th from the bottom in the FBS in scoring defense (34.5 points per game allowed) and 11th from the bottom in total defense (436 yards) this season.

USC’s defense also regressed year-over-year under Grinch, allowing five more points per game and 10 more yards than last season.

Riley brought Grinch with him from Oklahoma when he took the head coaching job at USC in the fall of 2021. Grinch and Riley spent nearly three full seasons as the defensive coordinator and head coach of the Sooners from 2019 to 2021.

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