July 24, 2010
Kennedy Pola, a former USC player and assistant coach who has spent the past 6 years as an NFL assistant, has agreed to return to USC as the offensive coordinator and running backs coach, Trojan head coach Lane Kiffin announced today (July 24).
"It's great to welcome Kennedy home," said Kiffin. "This is a great opportunity and promotion for him. He's done an outstanding job wherever he's been in college and the NFL. The last time he was here, he helped build the foundation for the championship run of the past 9 years. It's always great to bring another Trojan back to the family, as he's now the fifth former USC player on our staff. He's also the seventh fulltime coach on our staff with NFL coaching experience."
Pola, 46, who joined the Tennessee Titans as the running backs coach following the 2009 season, spent the past 5 season (2005-09) as the running backs coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars. While there, both Fred Taylor (2007) and Maurice Jones-Drew (2009) earned Pro Bowl honors and the Jaguars offense totaled the third most rushing yards in the NFL over that time, including 4 Top 10 rushing finishes. In 2009, Jones-Drew finished fourth in the NFL in rushing (1,391 yards), fourth in scrimmage yards (1,765) and second in total touchdowns scored (16).
He was the running backs coach for the Cleveland Browns in 2004.
Pola spent 4 years (2000-03) as an assistant at USC. He was the running backs coach in 2000, spent 2002 as the special teams coordinator, then returned to his running back coaching duties in 2003 and 2004 while also continuing as special teams coordinator.In 2003, USC's 4 young tailbacks who saw action combined for 1,887 rushing yards (157.3 per game) and 20 rushing TDs (plus 4 receiving TDs and 1 kickoff return TD). Tailback LenDale White's 13 rushing touchdowns were a USC freshman season record. Tom Malone was named USC's first-ever All-American first team punter (he also made All-Pac-10 first team). In 2002, USC 4 tailbacks combined for 1,897 rushing yards (2 were NFL draft picks: Justin Fargas in the third round and Malaefou MacKenzie in the seventh).
In 2001, cornerback Kevin Arbet won All-Pac-10 first team honors as a special teams player and placekicker David Davis led the Pac-10 in field goals (tied for 17th in the nation).
In 2000, tailback Sultan McCullough ran for 1,163 yards.
USC played in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl, 2003 Orange Bowl and 2004 Rose Bowl.
Pola spent 1999 as the linebackers coach at San Diego State, working under former USC head coach Ted Tollner.
He coached the running backs at Colorado in 1997 and 1998. The 1998 Buffaloes won the Aloha Bowl.
Before that, he spent 3 years (1994 to 1996) as San Diego State's running backs coach, guiding a pair of 1,000-yard rushers (Wayne Pittman in 1994 and George Jones in 1995). Jones, who was 32 yards shy of 1,000 yards in 1996, won All-WAC first team honors in 1995 and played in the NFL with Pittsburgh and Jacksonville. Pola also worked with the Aztecs special teams in 1996 (punter Noel Prefontaine was an All-American first teamer, placekicker Peter Holt was runnerup for the Lou Groza Award given to the nation's top kicker and return specialist Leandrew Childs was an All-WAC first team pick).
Pola was a graduate assistant coach at UCLA in 1992 and 1993, working with the secondary and special teams. The 1993 Bruins played in the Rose Bowl.
He began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant at Crespi High in Encino, Calif., for 3 seasons (1986-88) and then Westlake High in Westlake Village (Calif.) for 3 years (1989-91). Crespi won the 1986 CIF Division I championship and he coached prep All-American running back Russell White, who starred at California.
Pola was a 4-year letterman (1982-85) at USC, playing both fullback and linebacker. He began his Trojan career as a backup linebacker, but was moved to fullback by midseason of his freshman year. He ended up starting there the last 2 games of 1982 against UCLA and Notre Dame, as well as most of the next 3 seasons. In his career, he ran for 681 yards (he also caught 23 passes and in 1983 threw a 65-yard scoring pass against Stanford). He helped USC to a victory over Ohio State in the 1985 Rose Bowl (he also played in the 1985 Aloha Bowl).
He earned his bachelor's degree in history from USC in 1987.
He attended Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif., where he was a prep All-American in football (he also was on the basketball and track teams). He also served as the student body president.
His nephew, Troy Polamalu, was a 2-time (2001-02) All-American first team safety on the USC football team who now stars in the NFL with the Pittsburgh Steelers (he was Pittsburgh's first round pick). Kennedy's brother, Ao Polamalu, played football at Penn State (1985-87). Nephew Nicky Sualua played running back in the NFL with Dallas and Cincinnati after attending Ohio State, while 3 other nephews played college football: Leie Sualua was a defensive lineman at Oregon, Joe Polamalu was at Oregon State in 1987 and 1988 and Kaio Aumua played at UTEP.
Pola was born in Pago Pago, American Samoa, on Nov. 22, 1963, the same day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated (Pola was named in his honor).
He and his wife, Diane, have 3 sons: K.C. (Kennedy Christopher), 18, Matthew Aoatoa, 17, and Raymond Trey, 12.