The moment Mike Breske was fired as defensive coordinator of WSU, fans began to compile a wish list of potential replacements. On most lists? Clancy Pendergast.
Of course, that seemed like little more than a wish; his previous four stops as defensive coordinator were the Arizona Cardinals, Kansas City Chiefs, Cal and USC, and it's hard to imagine either A) a guy with that resume being attracted to WSU over other presumed offers he would receive, and B) WSU ponying up the cash it would take to entice Pendergast.
And yet, here we are on January 9, and after FootballScoop.com reported that Pendergast is "in the mix" at WSU, it's actually looking more and more possible that Pullman is a realistic landing spot for him.
If you don't know much about Pendergast's history beyond what I wrote about his resume above, it's important to know that Pendergast has been out of coaching for a year. After getting wiped out at Cal in the wake of Jeff Tedford's firing in 2012, he landed on his feet as USC's defensive coordinator in 2013. Only one problem: The guy who hired him, Lane Kiffin, was fired five games into the season, and Pendergast was let go with the rest of Kiffin's staff at the end of the year.
When the coaching carousel was done spinning at the end of last offseason, Pendergast either couldn't get a job or didn't see one that he wanted. Whether that was his desire, we'll never know, but we do know from this profile written about a month ago by Bruce Feldman of FoxSports.com that Pendergast has been on USC's payroll for the past 12 months while not working. That makes it a lot easier to be picky, especially after being a part of that fiasco at USC.
Pandergast's contract with USC is now up, and he still doesn't have a job. He was at one time thought to be the favorite to be LSU's next defensive coordinator, but he was passed over. He also hasn't been hired to any of the other open defensive coordinator positions, and the musical chairs are about to stop.
Presuming Pendergast wants to get back into coaching in 2015, as he said in the Feldman profile -- and let's be honest, the timing of the Feldman profile probably wasn't coincidental -- his options are dwindling.
And, believe it or not, WSU might be the best one left.
It appears the only Power 5 defensive coordinator positions still open are all in the Pac-12: WSU, Utah and Colorado. I suppose you'd get differing opinions from fans about which is the most attractive, but Colorado's defensive coordinator left the Pac-12 to go to the same position at UNLV, and Utah appears to be a sinking ship that was in danger of losing its entire staff. WSU, meanwhile, would appear to be on an upswing; at the very least, Mike Leach isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Of course, Pendergast could decide he'd rather go back to the NFL. It's highly unlikely he'd land a coordinator job on one of the new regimes, though, so he'd probably be settling for a position coach, a job that would pay about half of whatever WSU likely would be offering. Waiting for that carousel to finish playing out -- a process that lasts well into February for the NFL -- could land him a pretty good job ... or it could leave him grabbing a scrap.
When you put it all together, what once seemed so pie-in-the-sky for WSU might now actually be a legitimate possibility. I'd presume Pendergast wouldn't be long for the Cougs if he did take the gig -- I figure we'd get a year or two out of him, tops, before he moved on -- but that's perfectly OK by me. One or two years with a great coordinator to get the program headed in the right direction is better than no years with a great coordinator continuing to run that side of the ball into the ground.
It might just be the arrangement both sides need.