USC adds North Dakota State's Matt Entz to coach linebackers

USC made another significant addition to address its underperforming defense, hiring North Dakota State head coach Matt Entz as the school's linebackers coach and assistant head coach for defense.

Entz brings a strong résumé, as he won two national titles as the head coach at North Dakota State and another four titles as the school's defensive coordinator. He has been named both the coach of the year and coordinator of the year in the FCS.

Entz is a second key addition to a USC defense that finished No. 119 nationally last year and fired coordinator Alex Grinch before the end of the season.

USC hired UCLA defensive coordinator D'Anton Lynn to run and call the defense, the first major step in the overhaul. Entz's presence is another significant commitment to upgrading the defensive staff, as it's rare for a sitting head coach with that much national championship pedigree to take an assistant coach job.

Both hires show the yawning gap between the top end of college football and teams that are in the financial middle of major conferences or the FCS. Terms weren't released on Entz's hire; he made nearly $400,000 in salary at NDSU.

USC's defensive failures led to a 7-5 season and the first major crossroads of coach Lincoln Riley's head-coaching career. He erred in keeping Grinch after a poor 2022 season, and the persistently underperforming defense took USC from the cusp of the College Football Playoff in 2022 to one of the most disappointing programs in college football in 2023.

USC will debut in the Big Ten next season and will face one of the nation's most rigorous schedules. USC opens with LSU in Las Vegas (neutral) and has road games at Michigan, Washington and UCLA and home games with Wisconsin, Penn State and Notre Dame.

Entz's defensive pedigree is clear. He was the FCS coordinator of the year in 2018 and helped North Dakota State to a 39-game winning streak while a coordinator and head coach. He went 16-0 in his first full season as a head coach in 2019, a historic season matched only by Yale in 1894. He spent 15 seasons as a defensive coordinator at lower levels.

Entz also produced a strong crop of assistants, including current Northwestern head coach David Braun. He left NDSU as the defensive coordinator earlier in 2023 to take over as Northwestern's defensive coordinator and ended up earning the head-coaching job after being named interim coach.

"USC is lucky," Braun told ESPN on Sunday night. "They're getting a coach that cares about young people as people more than football players. They're getting a coach, a mentor and a family man and someone who knows defensive football inside and out. It's a home run hire."