James Cregg

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Kiffin promotes Helton to OC; hires three

Lane Kiffin's 2013 coaching staff is complete. (Photo: Louis Sinco/LA Times)

Lane Kiffin’s 2013 coaching staff is complete. (Photo: Louis Sinco/LA Times)

[dropcap]U[/dropcap]SC’s coaching staff is set.

Lane Kiffin promoted Clay Helton to offensive coordinator and announced the hiring of three new assistants. Mike Summers will be offensive line coach, while Tommie Robinson will coach running backs and Mike Ekelar will coach linebackers.

Helton has been the Trojans’ quarterbacks coach the past three seasons. He added the passing game coordinator title in 2012.

Summers spent the past three seasons as Kentucky’s offensive line and running game coordinator. Before Kentucky, he was hired by Bobby Petrino in 2003, and coached with Petrino until 2009 through stops at Lousiville, the Atlanta Falcons and Arkansas. He accepted a position to re-join Petrino at Western Kentucky in January.

Robinson spent the past three seasons as the Arizona Cardinals’ running backs coach. He joined the Cardinals after working the previous three seasons as running backs coach at Miami (Fla.).

Ekeler spent the past two seasons on Kevin Wilson’s staff at Indiana. Before that, he was linebackers coach at Nebraska for three seasons (2008-10).

James Cregg will remain as offensive line coach working alongside Summers, while associate head coach and special teams coordinator John Baxter will add the tight ends to his coaching duties.

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Alabama or USC: Could Pat Hill be returning to the college game?

Pat Hill could be in line to return college coaching as offensive line coach at Alabama or USC. (Photo: Bryan Cole/The Collegian-Fresno State)

Pat Hill could be in line to return college coaching as offensive line coach at Alabama or USC. (Photo: Bryan Cole/The Collegian-Fresno State)

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]ould Pat Hill be returning to the college game?

It looks like a strong possibility.

Hill, the former Fresno State head coach, was fired in December 2011 after 15 seasons with the Bulldogs. He spent last season as the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive line coach.

The Falcons offensive line performed well and Hill admits he had fun coaching in the professional ranks, but sources indicate that he is itching to be a college head coach again and his best route may be a return through college.

Enter Nick Saban and Alabama, who just so happens to have a coaching history with Hill and is in need an offensive line coach following Jeff Stoutland’s departure to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Hill has tremendous respect for Saban, dating back to the early 90s when they both coached under Bill Belicheck on the Cleveland Browns’ staff. Saban and Hill were in Cleveland together from 1992-94 with Saban as defensive coordinator and Hill the offensive line and tight ends coach.

Just after Stoutland left for Philadelphia, Saban reached out to Arkansas offensive line coach Sam Pittman but was rebuffed. Sources indicate that he’s also spoken to Hill and that a deal could be currently in the works.

If nothing happens with Alabama, USC may also be a possibility. Speculation is rampant that USC is in the market for an offensive line coach, with current Trojan offensive line coach James Cregg being reassigned to tight ends coach or let go entirely.

Lane Kiffin recently tried to hire Oregon State offensive line coach Mike Cavanaugh but was turned down.

Like Saban, Kiffin also has a history with Hill. Kiffin served as a GA on Hill’s staff at Fresno State in 1997-98, and hosted Hill during his first spring practice as the Trojans’ coach in 2010.

Hill recently told the Fresno Bee that he enjoyed his season in Atlanta and away from the limelight.

“I had a lot of fun, and I didn’t have to talk to the media once,” he said with a laugh.

“I’ll be here for another season, for sure.”

That was before the Alabama or USC job openings were known. Could a job the caliber of Alabama or USC be enough to change his mind?

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