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Kennedy Polamalu out at USC, a possible receivers coach in Pittsburgh?

USC head coach Lane Kiffin stirred up plenty of controversy when he hired Kennedy Polamalu, the uncle of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, as the school's running backs coach and offensive coordinator in 2010. Kennedy Polamalu is unemployed, not coincidentally, mere hours after National Signing Day.


One of the many names likely to be mentioned in candidacy discussions for the Steelers' vacant wide receivers coach positions is Kennedy Polamalu - the uncle of Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu.

Kennedy Polamalu, mostly a running backs coach, recently served as the offensive coordinator for USC under head coach Lane Kiffin. He was fired/let go Friday in wake of a major coaching reshuffle for the Trojans.

How he got there was quite the controversy.

Kiffin is no stranger to controversy and ruffled feathers. In 2010, Titans head coach Jeff Fisher filed a lawsuit against Kiffin and USC, citing a breach of protocol in hiring Polamalu, whom Fisher had just hired as his running backs coach after a successful stint in Jacksonville. It's commonplace for coaches going after assistants of other teams to notify the head coach first and gain his blessing. Fisher claims Kiffin did not follow that protocol.

It's worth mentioning that was right after Kiffin bolted from the University of Tennessee for USC after being the school's head coach for one season.

Bitter much?

The suit never went anywhere, and Polamalu had reasonable success with running backs at USC in his time there. It's instructive to note Kiffin, and not Polamalu, called plays for USC's star-studded and underachieving 7-6 team in 2012.

Connecting Polamalu to the Steelers, and their recent wide receivers coaching vacancy, doesn't take a rocket surgeon. The question comes down to how much knowledge a coach (who has an extensive background coaching the offensive side of the ball in college and the pros) can pass onto a receiving group.

Looking at it comparatively, Polamalu has far more experience than former Steelers receivers coach Scottie Montgomery did when he was hired in 2010. They brought him on to replace Randy Fichtner who was moved to quarterbacks coach when Ken Anderson retired that year. Montgomery coached at Duke - where he is now the offensive coordinator as of Friday - for four years. Polamalu has been coaching in the college and pro ranks for 20 years.

If this team really is looking to emphasize zone running - something that needs to be improved based on how their zone running looked last season - their wide receivers are going to need to block. Emphasizing a running game could mean coaching receivers to be on the same page with the running backs.

It may be worth a conversation at least. While Kennedy Polamalu's NFL success (coaching in Jacksonville when Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew ran all over the Steelers twice in 2007) could lead him to a running backs position, perhaps he'd be interested in coaching his nephew's team in a new role.