Former UT assistant Garza abruptly resigns from USC

LOS ANGELES — The Southern California defense was historically bad last season, and its attempt to bounce back got tougher when an assistant coach resigned two days before the Trojans’ opener.

USC defensive secondary coach Willie Mack Garza stepped down Thursday, citing personal reasons in a terse news release.

“I have some personal issues unrelated to USC that I need to address,” said Garza, a former defensive back at Texas. “I wish the Trojans the best, and I am sorry I won’t be with them in what I know will be a very successful season.”

USC declined to comment on reports claiming Garza’s abrupt departure was linked to the school’s discovery that Garza once had a relationship with Willie Lyles, the scouting service owner and street agent tied to an NCAA probe at Oregon and LSU.

No. 25 USC is playing under heavy NCAA sanctions, including a bowl ban, severe scholarship restrictions and four years of probation. The school’s beefed-up compliance department has dealt aggressively with even tangential connections to impropriety under new athletic director Pat Haden, who didn’t immediately comment on Garza’s departure.

The Trojans announced Garza’s resignation after Thursday’s morning practice, which Garza didn’t attend. USC’s players found out about the resignation through a text message from coach Lane Kiffin.

Safety T.J. McDonald, the Trojans’ top returning tackler, tweeted: “Wow,” and “For those worried, we are going to be just fine!”

Garza joined the USC staff in January 2010, leaving Tennessee along with Kiffin, assistant head coach Monte Kiffin and defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron. He’s just one contributor to the Trojans’ defensive game plan, working mostly with USC’s cornerbacks, but the school can hardly afford any distractions or depletions while attempting to rebuild last year’s unimpressive unit.

Starting with Saturday’s opener against Minnesota at the Coliseum, the Trojans are cautiously confident they’ll be better this season.

“Yeah, because I don’t think it would get much worse,” McDonald said earlier this week.

Even with Monte Kiffin’s celebrated “Tampa 2” defense and Orgeron’s bulldog motivational skills, USC’s defense yielded 400 yards per game — the most since the school started keeping records in 1955 — and three 500-yard games. The Trojans gave up a school-record 347 points, including six games with at least 30 points allowed.

The decline was stark after several years of dominant defenses under former coach Pete Carroll, particularly in a defensive secondary that often seemed confused or overmatched. USC managed just 15 interceptions while giving up 259.5 yards passing per game, USC’s most since 2003.

“I know there was a lot of things that went wrong with our defense last year, but we’re fixing them,” defensive end Nick Perry said. “We’ve got players that can dominate this game, and we’re learning how to go out there and do it.”

The Trojans have changed their approach in Monte Kiffin’s second season. USC installed its defense more deliberately, making sure the players understood each step along the way, and the Trojans have done more tackling in practice after Lane Kiffin avoided contact drills last summer, trying to keep his sanctions-depleted roster mostly healthy for the regular season.

“We feel better, but I felt pretty good going into last year,” Lane Kiffin said. “The truth will be in how we tackle and play. We’ll find out Saturday.”

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Comments » 60

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

Who cares? Let's play some football!!!!!

GO BIG ORANGE!

illinoisvolfan writes:

Whoop-de-do...

Volunatic writes:

Let's hope the Garza/Lyles connection doesn't affect Tennessee.
As for the Trojans I mean Trogans, I've been saying it since early '09-- I don't think monte kiffin has a clue how to stop a well-executed option offense. I expect SoCal to get burned a lot more until lane drops the nepotism and fires his dad.

mountainbrook writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Kiffin is just keeping the head coach's seat warm until the sanctions blow over. They'll hire their real coach at that time.

VolzsFan writes:

in response to mountainbrook:

Kiffin is just keeping the head coach's seat warm until the sanctions blow over. They'll hire their real coach at that time.

you are correct. They can let him twist in the wind until they get those scholarships back. As I said the day he was hired here by that idiot AD...he will be the only guy to be an NFL, SEC (and now PAC 10) coach and be out of coaching before he is 40.

VolzsFan writes:

But but but, he is bringing his dream team to Knoxville and will return us to a National Title. That was the word of the Vol Nation. Now they all deny tossing his salad everyday.

But I told everyone at the time this would not end well. I was ridiculed but I as always, was right.

RoadTrip writes:

Move on KNS - don't care about anything to do with Kiffin. Now is the time to be focused on the Vols and the season.

pridebone writes:

Worst D in USC History? But I thought Monte was supposed to be the defensive messiah??? I wish Kiff never came to UT and that we could have had a head coach who would have kept "the chief" around.

stevefrommemphis writes:

On a different subject, go to www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com, watch the video of the Kentucky QB sacking himself for a 10 yard loss in the Wildcats' highly impressive 14-3 win last night over Western Kentucky, and then explain to me why Kentucky is going to break that 26 game losing streak to the Vols this season. "Kentucky football" - biggest oxymoron in all of college sports.

TKG_VOL writes:

KY 14 - Western KY 3 Isn't that the team we beat like 70 - 7 a couple of years ago? WOW LOL

mytrifecta writes:

Just another step toward lane kiffin being in the used car business within the next few years.

waustin writes:

What kind of "relationship" did they have? Are we speaking strictly platonic here, or the Josh Briscoe kind?

Central_IL_Vol writes:

The words USC, Southern Cal, etc and Lane, Kiffin, Orgeron etc should be banned like other vulgar words that I will not mention!

I can only hope USCheat loses every game in which Kiffin is HC!

GO VOLS!

alfrizzle097 writes:

in response to pridebone:

Worst D in USC History? But I thought Monte was supposed to be the defensive messiah??? I wish Kiff never came to UT and that we could have had a head coach who would have kept "the chief" around.

Unfortunately Chavis was gone one way or the other. He was upset about the way the Fulmer thing went down and was upset that he didn't get any real consideration for the head coaching job. Chavis has landed on his feet at LSU though.

As far as those dogging Monte for his coaching ability, his track record speaks for itself. Its hard to put too much stock in a first season with a new system one way or the other. The Monte worship was off in that Chavis was not getting his due for what he accomplished.

Yes, there were a few gaffes (sp?) with the prevent, but Chavis had us waaaaay up on the list of fewest yards/points allowed multiple times and even won national assistant coach of the year honors. The guy could coach.

Volunatic writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

But but but, he is bringing his dream team to Knoxville and will return us to a National Title. That was the word of the Vol Nation. Now they all deny tossing his salad everyday.

But I told everyone at the time this would not end well. I was ridiculed but I as always, was right.

Yes, you told everyone at the time that it would not end well, even though you didn't join GVX until 10 months after kiffin left.
Heckuva crystal ball you got there, zz-wannabe.

Volunatic writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

What TS said...

givehim6 writes:

Like the way Garza Quit by text two days befor season opener. That is beter than leaving in the middle of the night like Kiffin did, pay backs bud, pay bay backs.

UCFgradVOLatHEART writes:

in response to SpongeBobOrangePantz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I am employed by Home Depot. I would be the first to step up. Voice my opinion on how these two would not be a good fit for our company.

tensie2004 writes:

I wish he would have resigned an hour before the game. Payback is hel!.

standfast#211788 writes:

Teams I'm pulling for this weekend: Tennessee, Minnesota, Maryland, Appalachian State, Georgia and LSU. I always support the SEC against other conferences.

Prostar writes:

Willie Mack, not much of a resume'. One and done for the last few years, no noticable coaching stars to crow about. Good luck landing at a major institution.

WV_Vol writes:

in response to standfast#211788:

Teams I'm pulling for this weekend: Tennessee, Minnesota, Maryland, Appalachian State, Georgia and LSU. I always support the SEC against other conferences.

Don't forget Marshall (just because they play WVU!)

DannyVol writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

But but but, he is bringing his dream team to Knoxville and will return us to a National Title. That was the word of the Vol Nation. Now they all deny tossing his salad everyday.

But I told everyone at the time this would not end well. I was ridiculed but I as always, was right.

Ditto. I never liked Kiffin and was told I was not a true UT fan by a bunch of people typing "Whoo-Whoo, here comes the Lane Train, baby!" Even after embarrassing themselves to that extent, most of these same people still have the audacity to act like their opinions about UT football are credible.

When Kiffin hired Orgeron shortly after taking the helm, I was more embarrassed than I've ever been as a UT fan because Orgeron's reputation was at the very bottom of a trash heap of filthy coaches. Later, when it was revealed that Kiffin treated General Neyland's Maxims like a joke and that the UT football offices looked like a USC trophy case, I had to listen to how "shocked" all these people were.

VolBy3 writes:

And we care about this, why?

All4Vols!!

RockyTopinAlabubba writes:

in response to SpongeBobOrangePantz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

My thoughts exactly! Couldnt have said it better myself!

A_Voice_ofReason writes:

Dream jobs. Gotta love em.

Down_The_Field writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ouch. that even hurt me.

easleychuck writes:

in response to Whatthehellsgoingonoutthere:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Seriously ???

Brillovol writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

But but but, he is bringing his dream team to Knoxville and will return us to a National Title. That was the word of the Vol Nation. Now they all deny tossing his salad everyday.

But I told everyone at the time this would not end well. I was ridiculed but I as always, was right.

Blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while too...

roloyo writes:

H'mmm, Willie Lyles???.........funny name for a girl.

easleychuck writes:

Relevance ??? A bear dumped in the woods last night that had spent some time in the east Tennessee mountains.

Expect a report on the outcome very soon KNS.

illinoisvolfan writes:

in response to stevefrommemphis:

On a different subject, go to www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com, watch the video of the Kentucky QB sacking himself for a 10 yard loss in the Wildcats' highly impressive 14-3 win last night over Western Kentucky, and then explain to me why Kentucky is going to break that 26 game losing streak to the Vols this season. "Kentucky football" - biggest oxymoron in all of college sports.

I also watched that game and I agree with your comments except for your last sentence - "Kentucky football" - biggest oxymoron in all of college sports.

Kentucky football is the second biggest oxymoron in all of college sports. Vanderbilt football is the biggest oxymoron in all of college sports.

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

in response to UCFgradVOLatHEART:

I am employed by Home Depot. I would be the first to step up. Voice my opinion on how these two would not be a good fit for our company.

True. They won't be a good fit anywhere they end up.

Although, if Alshon Jeffery ever opens that chain of gas stations, maybe, just maybe, Lame can finnaly reach his calling.

"FILL ER UP WITH ORANGE KOOL-AID SON!

go Vols!

arkyvol writes:

kiffen may be all of the things he's accused of being in these posts, but the fact remains that until he booked, he was a local favorite. dissing him now does no credit to the vols. i'd rather see the vols get the opportunity to whup up on his dream team in some future bowl. that would satisfy me more than all the mattresses the local idiots could burn.

The_Real_Orange writes:

I saw a post by CollierVol last night calling out KNS for NOT having an article about Garza. The UT fan base is a little tough on the media boys. Half are mad at any Kiffin news and the other half mad if they don't print it fast enough.

Hope everybody up there has a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend. GOD BLESS THE USA!!!

dvols writes:

yea, i remember that Tampa 2 against ole miss!

Volunatic writes:

in response to UCFgradVOLatHEART:

I am employed by Home Depot. I would be the first to step up. Voice my opinion on how these two would not be a good fit for our company.

Excellent. Y'all do good work-- much better than Home Depot's main competitor, which is not worthy of naming. (I think the kiffins would fit in at the competitor-- bunch of slackers who hate their customers.)
Thanks for all the help with my home/yard improvement projects.

Volunatic writes:

in response to easleychuck:

Relevance ??? A bear dumped in the woods last night that had spent some time in the east Tennessee mountains.

Expect a report on the outcome very soon KNS.

If Lyles and Garza had done any illegal recruiting tactics while Garza was at UT, there could be serious problems.

Volunatic writes:

in response to arkyvol:

kiffen may be all of the things he's accused of being in these posts, but the fact remains that until he booked, he was a local favorite. dissing him now does no credit to the vols. i'd rather see the vols get the opportunity to whup up on his dream team in some future bowl. that would satisfy me more than all the mattresses the local idiots could burn.

I agree with a lot of what you say here.
I think kiffin was a good coach, and his recruiting looked very good while he was here. (Again, I think his dad was the weak link on that coaching staff-- he needs to ditch the nepotism.)
I don't blame kiffin for taking his "dream job" at SoCal. The timing wasn't good for Tennessee, but I have ditched an employer before on short notice when a job opened up that I considered to be very preferable-- I can't blame kiffin for that.
I do take issue with the way he and orgeron tried to encourage UT's midterm-enrollees to skip classes the next day, so that kiffin & co could recruit them to SoCal, though. That was a dirty tactic. I'm glad it failed for all but one of the enrollees (and I am glad that he didn't enroll at SoCal either, although I think he made a mistake choosing UNC).

jimr07 writes:

in response to Volunatic:

I agree with a lot of what you say here.
I think kiffin was a good coach, and his recruiting looked very good while he was here. (Again, I think his dad was the weak link on that coaching staff-- he needs to ditch the nepotism.)
I don't blame kiffin for taking his "dream job" at SoCal. The timing wasn't good for Tennessee, but I have ditched an employer before on short notice when a job opened up that I considered to be very preferable-- I can't blame kiffin for that.
I do take issue with the way he and orgeron tried to encourage UT's midterm-enrollees to skip classes the next day, so that kiffin & co could recruit them to SoCal, though. That was a dirty tactic. I'm glad it failed for all but one of the enrollees (and I am glad that he didn't enroll at SoCal either, although I think he made a mistake choosing UNC).

and, i agree with what you say about Kiffin. Just do not understand the hate on him.

murrayvol writes:

in response to slaw_way:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

He'll be gone when the sanctions have run their course.

murrayvol writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

But but but, he is bringing his dream team to Knoxville and will return us to a National Title. That was the word of the Vol Nation. Now they all deny tossing his salad everyday.

But I told everyone at the time this would not end well. I was ridiculed but I as always, was right.

You should lay off the Lortabs for awhile.

trubleoj#657755 writes:

in response to WV_Vol:

Don't forget Marshall (just because they play WVU!)

UTC plays Nebraska. Go Mocs!

Huttdawg100 writes:

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Willie Mack recruited Janzen Jackson, who coincidentally was committed to LSU. LSU has has some recent issues with Lyles and his connection to Patrick Peterson. As embarrassed as I was that Kiffin left after one year, I'm extremely glad he's gone now.

sly_stone99#434111 writes:

in response to mytrifecta:

Just another step toward lane kiffin being in the used car business within the next few years.

Yep, powder blue Leisure suit, patent leather white shoes, gold chain and cheap Elvis sunglasses. Who would not want to buy a car from him?

murrayvol writes:

in response to Volunatic:

Yes, you told everyone at the time that it would not end well, even though you didn't join GVX until 10 months after kiffin left.
Heckuva crystal ball you got there, zz-wannabe.

He was practicing his "craft" under a different name when the Jackal bailed.

He's had several monikers. The message is always the same, however.

SmokeDog1972 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

FearTheVols1252 writes:

He hires questionable staff
He recruits shady players
And he commits one violation after another

Anyone else see an emerging pattern here?!?

I saw this clip on national news this morning. My first thought - Kiffin will be down there in no time recruiting...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q-LHxE...

easleychuck writes:

in response to Volunatic:

If Lyles and Garza had done any illegal recruiting tactics while Garza was at UT, there could be serious problems.

If nuts and bolts were........oh, never mind. The glass at UT is half full and getting more full everyday.

Volunatic writes:

in response to easleychuck:

If nuts and bolts were........oh, never mind. The glass at UT is half full and getting more full everyday.

I agree with you about the "glass half full" (pass me the Big Orange Kool Aid-- that's the stuff!), but I'd hate the thought of losing any current key player to eligibility issues if there was a connection between two shady characters like Garza/Lyles when Garza was our coach.
It does seem unlikely, especially since UT has been under the NCAA investigators' microscope for the past couple of years.
(And another refill of Big Orange Kool Aid, please.)
GO VOLS!!!

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