University of South Florida Head Coach Alex Golesh named longtime coordinator Todd Orlando as the Bulls’ defensive coordinator/inside linebackers coach Friday in his first addition to his USF staff.
Orlando comes to USF with 27 years of coaching experience, 18 as a defensive coordinator working with seven FBS programs. The former USC (2020) and Texas (2017-19) defensive coordinator who brought major improvements to the defenses of both programs most recently served as defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at FAU (2022).
“Defensively, we’re going to be the most aggressive group in the country,” Golesh said. “Todd is one of the best defensive coordinators in the country. I’ve coached against and schemed against his defenses, and I am beyond excited that I don’t have to any more. He’ll be aggressive, he’ll be intense, and we’re going to have a blast on defense.”
Orlando has served as a defensive coordinator in college football every season since 2005, with stints at FAU (2022), Southern Cal (2020-21), Texas (2017-19), Houston (2015-16), Utah State (2013-14), FIU (2011-12) and UConn (2005-10). At each of his stops, his aggressive, blitzing defense has made an impact, particularly in generating turnovers, and his defenses have ranked among the Top 25 nationally in scoring and total defense at several stops. Orlando’s teams have earned a bowl appearance in 13 of the last 18 seasons and his defenses have produced six players recognized as conference defensive player of the year (3), lineman of the year (2) or freshman of the year (1) across three conferences.
His most recent defense at FAU (2021) ranked 25th in the nation producing 21 turnovers, 28th with 12 interceptions and third with three defensive touchdowns.
In his first season a defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at USC in 2020, USC’s defense improved dramatically from the previous year, allowing 369.7 total yards (to 408.7 in 2019), including just 216.3 passing (to 246.2 in 2019). The Trojans had 16 takeaways in the shortened 6-game 2020 season after getting 16 in 13 games in 2019. Safety Talanoa Hufanga was a consensus All-American first teamer and the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu made All-Pac-12 first team.
In three seasons Texas’ defensive coordinator and linebackers coach (2017-19), his defenses forced 65 turnovers during his time in Austin, to rank among the best in the Big 12. In his first season (2017), the Longhorns improved 61 spots in the national rankings in scoring defense and 53 spots in total defense from 2016. Texas ranked in the national Top 10 in rushing defense, third down defense, fourth down defense, defensive touchdowns and interception for touchdowns in 2017. Linebacker Malik Jefferson was the 2017 Big 12 Co-Defensive Player of the Year, defensive lineman Poona Ford was the Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year and safety DeShon Elliott was a unanimous All-American and Thorpe Award finalist. UT played in the 2017 Texas Bowl.
In 2018, the Longhorns allowed just 131.4 rushing yards per game. Defensive end Charles Omenihu was the 2018 Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year and safety Caden Sterns was the Defensive Freshman of the Year. They joined cornerback Kris Boyd as All-Big 12 first teamers. Texas played in the 2019 Sugar Bowl.
In 2015 and 2016, Orlando was the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at Houston. The Cougars’ 2015 scoring defense ranked 20th nationally, as 12 of their 14 opponents were held under their scoring average, and UH’s rushing defense stood eighth nationally. Houston topped the nation with 35 takeaways in 2015. Linebacker Elandon Roberts was ninth in the nation in solo tackles that season, made the All-American Athletic Conference first team and was an NFL draftee. Houston was the 2015 AAC champion, earned an invitation to the program’s first New Year’s Bowl in 30 years, won the Peach Bowl over No. 9 Florida State, posted 13 wins and finished No. 8 in the AP poll.
Then in 2016, UH ranked fourth nationally in rushing defense and 13th in total defense, as well as 14th in sacks and tackles for loss. UH posted a 9-4 record, including wins over No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 3 Louisville. The Cougars ranked third nationally with five defensive touchdowns, allowed just 23.5 points per game and ranked as one of the nation’s best in bringing pressure, standing 14th in both sacks and tackles for loss.
True freshman defensive tackle Ed Oliver was a 2016 first-team All-American, ranking No. 3 nationally with 23 tackles for loss, and linebacker Steven Taylor was an All-AAC first team pick. The Cougars played in the 2016 Las Vegas Bowl.
Orlando spent two seasons at Utah State (2013-14) as defensive coordinator/linebackers coach. In 2013, his defense ranked in the national Top 20 in total, scoring defense, rushing defense and pass efficiency defense. The Aggies played in the 2013 Poinsettia Bowl.
Then in 2014, Utah State was in the national Top 20 in scoring defense, pass efficiency defense, sacks and tackles for loss. Four defensive players made the 2014 All-Mountain West first team, including MWC Defensive Player of the Year linebacker Zach Vigil. The Aggies were in the 2014 New Mexico Bowl.
In two seasons as defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at Florida International (2011-12), the 2011 Golden Panthers defense improved 51 spots nationally in scoring defense from 2010 and 31 spots in total defense. Two FIU defensive players made the All-Sun Belt Conference first team during his tenure, safety Jonathan Cyprien (an NFL draft pick) and defensive lineman Tourek Williams. FIU appeared in the 2011 Beef O’Brady’s Bowl.
Orlando spent the previous 12 years at Connecticut (1999-2010), the first six seasons as inside linebackers coach and the last six adding the defensive coordinator role. In 2005 in his first year as defensive coordinator, the Huskies ranked seventh nationally in total defense. They were in the national Top 20 in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense in 2007 and in total defense, scoring defense and pass defense in 2008. Linebacker Alfred Fincher was a 2005 NFL draft selection. UConn won the 2007 and 2010 Big East titles and played in five bowl games during his time there (2004 Motor City Bowl, 2007 Meineke Car Care Bowl, 2009 International Bowl, 2010 Papa John’s Bowl, 2011 Fiesta Bowl).
Prior to Connecticut, Orlando spent three seasons as the inside linebackers coach at Pennsylvania (1996-98).
He began his coaching career as the defensive coordinator at Central Catholic High School (1994) and Fox Chapel Area High School (1995), both in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Penn.
Orlando was a three-year (1991-93) letterwinner at inside linebacker at Wisconsin and a member of the 1993 Big Ten Championship team that defeated UCLA in the Badgers’ first Rose Bowl appearance since 1963. He earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Wisconsin in 1994.
He and his wife, Amy, have two daughters, Taylor and Addison.