Posted September 29, 2013

Several NFL names could be in play for USC job after Lane Kiffin firing

Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams
Jeff Fisher (left) and Jack Del Dio are two USC alums who might hear from Trojans AD Pat Haden in the near future.

Jeff Fisher (left) and Jack Del Dio are two USC alums who might hear from Trojans AD Pat Haden soon. (John Russell/AP)

It’s no surprise that USC athletic director Pat Haden fired head coach Lane Kiffin after the team’s 62-41 loss to Arizona State on Saturday. The Trojans had been unimpressive all season, and Kiffin had lost the support of many around him for a multitude of reasons in his fourth season there. The question now is who replaces Kiffin, and there may be a number of NFL names in play. Assistant head coach Ed Orgeron will take the position of interim head coach, but unless Orgeron somehow magically runs the table, Haden will be looking elsewhere.

Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report indicates that current Denver Broncos defensive coordinator and former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio could be the most compelling candidate. Freeman is one of the better-sourced people in the business, and he believes this could be a match under the right circumstances. Del Rio played linebacker for USC before an NFL career that spanned from 1985 through ’96.

“I’ve spoken to Del Rio repeatedly about USC,” Freeman wrote on Sunday. “There isn’t a more proud alum. But he’s been linked to USC before and has resisted going back. My guess: Del Rio holds off USC for the moment — he may even say he’s not interested — but seriously considers the position while his agent quietly gets a feel for what Del Rio’s head coaching prospects are in the NFL.”

Del Rio has done a great job with Denver’s defense, and Denver’s offense is among the most impressive we’ve seen in a very long time. For Del Rio to leave a team clearly on a Super Bowl path (at least at this point), Haden and his people would have to seriously sweeten the pot. Mike Klis of the Denver Post reports that Del Rio will not leave the Broncos during his current contract, but his contract does expire after the 2013 season.

St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher is also a serious candidate, according to Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News.

Fisher played for the Trojans from 1977 through ’80, and he’s in the second year of his tenure with the Rams. As the wolves were circling around Kiffin in early September, Fisher was asked by the media about leaving the Rams for his alma mater, and he called the notion “absurd.” That wouldn’t stop Haden from reaching out, but Fisher is another potential coach who’s currently in a more favorable situation — the Rams don’t exactly look great right now, but Fisher has an impressive amount of autonomy and control in his current position, he’s a key part of the league’s Competition Committee, and he’s universally respected throughout the NFL.

Another name to consider is current San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. The USC offense has been traditionally built on a strong balance between the run and pass, and few in football better understand how to strike that balance in diverse ways than Roman. From his days with Jim Harbaugh at Stanford to now, Roman has justifiably gained traction as a big name because of his ability to successfully scheme to his personnel.

On July 1, Dave Miller of the National Football Post wrote that “There is a job waiting for San Francisco 49ers assistant Greg Roman should he decide to return to the college game. The New Jersey native is very well-respected nationally, not just on the West Coast.”

One thing any new USC head coach will have to deal with is the sanctions handed to the program by the NCAA based on impermissible benefits during the Pete Carroll era. Those sanctions included scholarship limitations from 2010 through ’13, and any new coach will obviously have to deal with the aftereffects of that disadvantage.

Haden and USC vice president for athletic compliance Dave Roberts recently met with the NCAA to ask for their sanctions to be reviewed in the wake of the decision to reduce Penn State’s sanctions following the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

“There is no comparison between USC and Penn State,” the NCAA said in a Friday statement. “USC’s appeal was denied, and there is no further consideration being given.”

So, any current NFL coach would have to be able to look past that drama to leave his current position. It’s clear that Haden is operating with a handicap in that regard, despite the program’s storied history.

59 comments
pandah462
pandah462

Where the hell did Butch Davis go?

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

I'm not sure what it would take to get James Franklin, or if he is interested (you think he would be), but if all the stars line up, USC sure as hell should grab him. He turned Vandy into a bowl team, but can never really compete with the rest of the SEC. You put him at Southern Cal and he may become a major player.

6marK6
6marK6

I have seen so many teams and schools in the past make that classic mistake of trying to hire someone that has some "connection" to the school. It is classic stupidity, because it eliminates so many great candidates and forces you to settle for a more limited field. Who cares if Fischer or DelRio once played at USC? Del Rio did not pan as an NFL coach and has no college coaching experience. Fischer appears washed up as well. So many more things go into running a college program. Look for a great college coach that knows how to run a program, regardless of his alumni affiliation. Don't know if Peterson would leave Boise, but that would be the best start.

GaryBrunner
GaryBrunner

Maybe Pete Carroll could come back, since his reign put USC in the shape in which it finds itself.

x72
x72

Blank check for Petersen or Fisher.

Ciscos
Ciscos

I'm on record for declaring the NCAA and the COI are FOS... 

Firing Lane Kiffin was going to come regardless... He lost alum support, fan support, former player support and most of all, part of the team's support as well.  Attending the games and hearing the stadium yell "Fire Kiffin" is something I don't think I've ever heard a USC crowd do - and I'm talking all the way back to John Robinson.  I didn't hear them yell like that for Ted Tollner's head, nor the "What's all the hub - bub" Larry Smith.  That was a first, so action had to be taken and confidence restored.  I personally had my dislikes about his play calling style, standoffish personality, and coaching demeanor, but in the end, I feel happy for the University and the players, but I feel bad for Kiffin because I do think he tried, and tried very hard.  His problem was he didn't know "how" to be a head coach.  He needs to learn how to be that first, and in learning so, he'll learn to be personable toward people too.  I wish him and his family well.

thebigdawg3
thebigdawg3

Of course they NCAA denied USC's appeal of the sanctions.  USC was under-investigation and they hire a coach (Kiffin) who had just been busted for violations at Tennessee.  Garrett was a moron of an AD.

WilyCoyoteSuperGenius
WilyCoyoteSuperGenius

The last thing SC needs is a pro coach with no experience in the college ranks. College football is a game of recruiting first and foremost. The best move is for SC to wait out the season and then see who is available. Just please no more WunderKind punk coaches.

PerroViejo
PerroViejo

Re: the continued sanctions against USC. Unfortunately, the NCAA uses the phrase, "there is no comparison" to side step any answer of substance. Not that there should not have been some penalty to USC, but I wouid suggest that the severity of the USC penalty marked an effort on the part of the NCAA to justify their very considerable effort, monetarily and in time spent, to bring charges against Bush. Nor do I recall there having been any broad implication of the USC program, or of any other player on the USC team. Their Penn State sanctions were even more egregious. The Penn State situation was an absolute administrative failure of the university from its President on down to its athletic department (Paterno was an administrative officer of the university) that implicated no member of the Penn State football team, yet the football team was made to suffer. The NCAA was in over its head at Penn State. The USC situation was much more analogous to the Cam Newton situation at Auburn though, oddly enough, neither Auburn, nor Newton suffered any consequences. Go figure. It is very unclear that the NCAA knows the meaning of the term, "fair and balanced."

sblake1016
sblake1016

You MUST throw Chip Kelly's name into the hat; he'll RUN back to college regardless of how this season plays out for the Eagles.

John81
John81

Pete Carol was an NFL HC before he took the SC job, so don't say never. It is one of the top CFB jobs and not all view it as a step down. I would love to see Del Rio, but I realize NFL HC offers would probably come first.

A name I haven't heard is TCU coach Gary Patterson; it would be a step up and just think what he could do with 4 and 5 star athletes!

Jaclyn32
Jaclyn32

my Aunty Abigail got a very cool GMC Yukon Hybrid by working part time off of a pc online. websites.... 

W­O­ℛ­K­S­2­5.ℭ­O­M

doublejtrain68
doublejtrain68

If Gruden wouldn't leave the broadcast booth for the Tennessee job, what would make anyone think he would go to USC? 

pulcrit1
pulcrit1

I agree with LeroyBaker. Gruden would be great. Haden should call Gruden's agent just to see if there's any interest.

LeRoyBaker
LeRoyBaker

I think it should be John Gruden he would be great for the program.

Huskerstildeath
Huskerstildeath

The idea that Jeff Fisher would leave the Rams for USC is beyond crazy. Now, you can get NFL guys, but only if they are assistants, and have very little shot at being head coaches in the NFL again. So, who does that leave? easy, USC get Hue Jackson, the Running backs coach for the Bengals.

Aloha!
Aloha!

Chip Kelly won't last in Philly, That's my vote.

airmjbsanders
airmjbsanders

Greg Roman is really THE choice here, but as a die-hard Niners guy, I hope York gives him a big enough raise to make him resist the temptation.

Frank14
Frank14

this is the sort of delusional "college stuff" as if the USC "job" is somehow superior to Jeff Fisher coaching the Rams.  what garbage.  the only way an NFL coach is taking a college job is if he's tired of coaching and wants to wind down, or he's about to be fired.

gepetohong
gepetohong

@6marK6 Pete Carroll was a mediocre NFL coach before he came to USC, and Nick Saban proved to be average in the pros as well.  I don't think the two (NCAA vs. NFL) necessarily translate, so I don't think we can say whether either Del Rio or Fisher will make it work or not.  I'm not convinced on either for other reasons though - I don't see either coach's style really fit USC personnel.  Only if we can pry Gruden off of his seat (will $5-6m/yr do?), that would be ideal.  Also like Peterson or Roman a lot.

TwitSpif
TwitSpif

@x72 The Rams already did that. Fisher wrote down $7 million a year. For 5 years. Still has three full years, plus this one, to go. 


gepetohong
gepetohong

@Ciscos Good post and completely agree.  I didn't dislike him as much as most, but he still needed to go.  One thing I noticed during his tenure, the team never improved as it went through the season.

Ciscos
Ciscos

@thebigdawg3 ~ One has nothing to do with the other.  Garrett wasn't a moron, but I believe once Paul Dee and him talked on the phone about the allegations - and knowing Paul Dee's attitude toward USC, the dye was cast... Personalities clashed, egos stood firm, and the vendetta by Dee was unleashed.  Garret a moron? Hardly.  He hired Kiffin because Kiffin was an easy, quick, no questions asked hire - especially after Coach Sark turned him down.

AUSTX
AUSTX

@PerroViejo Excellent post!  Are we to believe in an oversight system which fails to punish the culprit most of the time?  Thanks for putting in writing what a lot of us feel.      

Fifilo
Fifilo

@PerroViejo 'cuz USC is not a cash/kickback cow like the SEC cathouses.

Decode
Decode

@sblake1016 I don't think so if my recollection is correct, he is banned from from coaching the NCAA for a bit  (until Dec 2014 if I am correct)... That was the infraction Chip got from the Oregon investigation.. So not going to happen

DanaBunner
DanaBunner

@doublejtrain68 A 100% to 200% pay increase to take a job which is less a year round job than an NFL position?

mike.russell
mike.russell

@LeRoyBaker That hokey accent from nowhere of his probably won't impress anyone in Southern California.  And he's been out of coaching too long.  Being spoon-fed NFL quarterback draftees for his television show isn't the same as hitting the trail for recruits at every position who are seventeen years old. 

Terry
Terry

@Huskerstildeath 

Although I don't see it happening, that's an interesting name to throw out there.

djm4672
djm4672

@Frank14 You do realize that there are several college football coaches that make more money than NFL head coaches right?  "wants to wind down" is just ridiculous.  A top college program is at least as work intensive as an NFL job, if not more due to the recruiting aspects.

mike.russell
mike.russell

@Frank14 USC head football coach is a lot more than a "college job."  It's in LA, and if you're winning there, it's wow to the infinite power. 

DudeAbides
DudeAbides

@gepetohong @Ciscos here, here. I am in complete agreement you both. A long time fan from down south -San Diego way. Do appreciate the comments/insights from Ciscos, as he appears to be close to the program.  Not sure what the next move/hire should be, but must admit I was extremely frustrated with the seemingly stoic and detached appearance exuded by Kiffin on the sidelines. Perhaps arrogance, Trojan hubris?  Don't know.  But did you catch the Saban verbal butt-kicking to the troops this past weekend when his Tide was ONLY up 9-0 to O'Miss? Now that was PASSION.  Am not a big fan of yell'er and screamers, I appreciate more of the David Shaw type's -teacher/coach who use psychology to motivate rather than loud fear tactics. Yet, getting into player's grills, at times, does have its place. Folks are chatting up hiring a Pete Carroll type. Play with an exuberant amount of passion with no entitlements -every position is up for grabs. I AGREE!  Entitled positions ultimately creates a lack of discipline, attention to detail.  Something that was all to familiar under Kiffin's tenure. Just mindless, stupid personal fouls which always came at the most inopportune times.  The "D" (as in discipline) needs to be tightened up.  

About retreads, Fisher & Del Rio, am kinda down on. Though Mora is doing a fine job at turning UCLA back into a national power. And must admit, don't know much about Franklin from Vandy.  But shutter to think if SC went and poached another SEC coach and what would be the effects if it ultimately went sideways? 

So I'll throw a name out there.  Dino Barbers, Eastern Illinois.  He brought his team to San Diego a few weeks ago and they lowered the boom on the Aztecs. He has coaching experience in the Pac12 (assistant coach UCLA, ASU and Arizona). Played his college ball at Hawaii and grew up here in SD; played on some great Morse HS teams. Offered up for you're perusal.    


CoryDowns
CoryDowns

What? You can, with a straight face, write that all SEC teams are dirty and USC is a bastion of cleanliness and are the victims of an NCAA and espn conspiracy? Moronic just does not seem strong enough.

doublejtrain68
doublejtrain68

@thebigdawg3 @doublejtrain68 I beg to differ. Tennessee is just as big because it's the SEC, which is a lot more powerful than the Pac-12, where they don't believe in playing defense. The scores will be 62-55. It would only be bigger because it's L.A. 

gepetohong
gepetohong

@mike.russell @LeRoyBaker Disagree.  It means he has studied the college game (may be not necessarily from college perspective, but still gives him insight), and he has the right personality for the college game.  Job would be his if he wanted it.  That's a big IF though.

Ciscos
Ciscos

@DudeAbides @gepetohong @Ciscos ~ haha, DudeAbides I saw that! I saw Saban exploding on his team against Ole Miss.  That was pure passion... loved it too!  And even more, you're right. Each one of those coaches unleashes their own passion in their unique way.... Kiffin was absent all of that... The thing about Kiffin is he's very smart, but his intelligence doesn't translate into how he interacts with others or in the display of his emotions.

He reminds me of a college professor I had for economics. The guy was super smart, but socially inept.  He couldn't navigate general conversations with ease; toss in his poker playing demeanor and desert dry wit, he didn't come across well. But talking macro and micro econ and he was all over it. Kiffin reminds me of him. Those personality types rarely work well being the center of attention in anything outside of their comfort zone.  That said, Kiffin would probably be a better coordinator, as opposed to a head coach.