USCFootball.com had reported that the Trojans were expected to hire Pendergast on Wednesday morning. Head coach Lane Kiffin then told CBSSports.com that, contrary to reports, the Trojans hadn't hired anyone. The snag, a source says, was related to the news earlier Wednesday morning that Oregon coach Chip Kelly was leaving for the NFL and that prompted the notion that Ducks DC Nick Aliotti might be pried away from Eugene. However on Thursday, as the Oregonian reported, Aliotti wasn't interested in pursuing any opportunity with USC.
The 45-year-old Pendergast, a one-time graduate assistant at USC in 1992, comes to the Trojans from 3-9 Cal, where his defense was ranked No. 96 in scoring and were No. 70 in rushing defense. The Bears, though were much better in his previous two seasons in Berkeley. Cal led the Pac-12 in total defense and pass defense in 2011 while ranking 25th and 37th nationally, respectively. In his first season at Cal, the Bears defense led the Pac-10 and ranked in the top 25 nationally in per-game averages for sacks, total defense and pass defense. Better still, Pendergast's teams did have some success slowing down Oregon's vaunted offense, limiting the Ducks to 15 points in 2010--32 below their average. However, the last two seasons Cal didn't have much luck with the Ducks, allowing 102 points.
Under Monte Kiffin, the Trojans were No. 40 in scoring defense and No. 69 against the run in 2012, but were plagued by issues whenever they faced spread teams or anyone with a mobile QB.