LOS ANGELES – Tee Martin, USC’s offensive coordinator, on Sundays also pulls for the Atlanta Falcons.
They were one of the closest NFL teams to his hometown of Mobile, Ala.
This season, Tevin Coleman, the versatile running back who helped the Falcons reach the Super Bowl, caught his attention.
Martin recalled he came from Indiana. He knew Jordan Howard, a rookie for the Chicago Bears who made the Pro Bowl, did too.
“Who is this guy coaching these guys?” Martin wondered.
It was Deland McCullough.
The Trojans had a vacancy on their coaching staff after running backs coach Tommie Robinson left for a similar position at LSU soon after signing day in early February.
Martin was impressed by McCullough, who along with Howard and Coleman had also helped Stephen Houston reach the NFL.
“You try to look at who’s doing a good job where they are,” Martin said.
Coach Clay Helton remarked that a handful of coaching counterparts also recommended him as a candidate to replace Robinson. So, they gave him a call.
“I was excited,” McCullough said. “Man.”
He met with Helton, Martin and others later in the month for an interview.
“He just blew us away,” Helton said.
What was the pitch?
“I just went in and was myself,” McCullough said. “I was happy for the opportunity. I wasn’t going to come here and act like something that I wasn’t. I’m a guy that’s attention to detail. I like to think I’m a pretty solid guy overall. Like to think my results show I’ve been pretty good at evaluating guys and developing ’em and that’s what my plan is here.”
McCullough, who ultimately joined the program prior to spring practice, had no prior connections to the area and little with the staff. The northeast Ohio native had never visited the Los Angeles area until this year. He had not worked alongside any of the coaches on staff, spending his entire college coaching career the past seven seasons at Indiana and Miami (Ohio). They bonded quickly,…