The coveted young coordinator responsible for transforming the Trojans offense in his debut season will remain a fixture at USC for the foreseeable future.
Graham Harrell signed a multiyear contract extension to stay at USC, the school announced Monday, ending a week of speculation over whether the rising star coordinator might leave L.A. for Texas, where he’d recently interviewed for the same position.
“Excited to be a part of this great university and part of the Trojan family,” Harrell said in a video posted on Twitter. “It’s a really special place. We’ve built something really special here.”
USC moved swiftly in hopes of securing Harrell, offering him an extension and sizable raise shortly after he interviewed with Texas almost two weeks ago. His decision to accept that offer, more than a week later, is a crucial development for a USC staff that’s still likely to undergo a shakeup after next week’s bowl matchup with Iowa.
Harrell was first hired last January at a moment of desperation, after new coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, another disciple of the Air Raid offense, left USC after just one month to be head coach of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. His hiring wound up paying huge dividends for a program desperate for progress on that side of the ball.
In his first year as coordinator, Harrell oversaw the transformation of USC’s previously stale offense into a high-flying Air Raid attack that ranked among the most explosive in college football. With a simplified offensive scheme, USC improved from 91st to 36th in scoring offense and from 84th to 18th in total offense.
In spite of losing its starting quarterback in the season opener, USC’s passing attack ranked among the top five in the nation, largely due to the rapid — and unexpected — development of freshman Kedon Slovis. Slovis, who arrived at USC as a three-star recruit, emerged as one of the best young passers in college football under Harrell’s watch.
As a freshman, Slovis threw for 3,242 yards and 28 touchdowns, on his way to being named Pac-12 offensive freshman of the year.
With Slovis set to return, along with most of USC’s playmakers, Harrell could have one of the nation’s most talented offenses at his disposal next season. For the Trojans’ rising star coordinator, that potential was reason enough to return.
“Moving forward, we’ve laid the foundation to compete for championships, not only at the Pac-12 level, but at the national level,” Harrell said. “We’re excited to be here. Can’t wait to continue what we’ve started.”
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