Unfortunate timing for coaching losses

The USC Trojans have lost two coaches in the week following national signing day, as wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore joined linebackers coach Joe Barry in making the jump from the Pac-12 to the AFC West.

It's less than ideal timing for a program that not only begins spring ball in one month, but will now face opposing coaches on the recruiting trail who will call attention to the fact that two coaches stayed through signing day only to leave immediately after.

It's not unusual for programs to see departures during the offseason, but after replacing just one coach before last season, Lane Kiffin will need to fill three vacancies heading into 2012. Two of those will be positions that arguably saw the most dramatic improvement last season while relying almost entirely on first- or second-year players. A linebacker trio that will feature two redshirt sophomores and a true sophomore was finding its way under Barry and fielded two of the team's best defensive players last season. The wide receiver production under Gilmore was unmatched in USC history, as Robert Woods set a Pac-12 record for receptions and Marqise Lee added a 1,000-yard season.

It will be interesting to see the direction Kiffin goes with his hires -- he is also likely searching for a defensive backs coach -- and how long it takes to fill the positions. What was looking like a smooth offseason after a great finish to 2011 has been rocked a bit, and it could be up to the players to help smooth the transition heading into spring ball.