When he made the decision to relieve former head coach Lane Kiffin of his duties last week, a major concern for USC Athletic Director Pat Haden was that the impending search to fill the head coaching vacancy would take on a life of its own and distract the current team.
Approximately 10 days into that search, Haden’s fears have been confirmed in a bizarre turn of events.
USC was informed on Monday that individuals unaffiliated with the university have made contact with potential candidates to gauge their interest in the head coaching position.
In the first reported case, a person claimed he was a high-ranking member of the USC athletic department and made overtures to an unnamed member of the Denver Broncos’ coaching staff.
USC alumnus Jack Del Rio is currently the defensive coordinator for the undefeated Broncos, but he has been rumored to be one of the top candidates to replace interim head coach Ed Orgeron at the end of the season.
The university has identified the person who made contact with the Broncos’ staff and action has reportedly been taken.
In the second instance, another person “representing USC” attempted to reach out to former NFL head coach and current NBC sports broadcaster Tony Dungy to discuss the position.
Dungy was a head coach for over a decade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, more recently, the Indianapolis Colts, but stated during today’s Dan Patrick Show that he has no interest in becoming the next head coach at USC.
USC has also identified the individual who contacted Dungy and officials are currently in the process of reaching that individual and taking action.
Haden seemed shocked by the news and wanted to emphasize that he did not authorize these overtures.
“I can assure you no authorized representative of USC or our athletic department made these calls,” Haden said in a statement on Monday.
For now, he would like the athletic department and fans alike to focus on the current team, which plays Thursday night against the visiting Arizona Wildcats.
“As I said last week, we will not comment on every name that comes out. It would be a disservice to our players and coaches, who are devoting everything they have into the remainder of our season,” Haden said in a statement. “We have a head coach right now in Ed Orgeron. We have not offered that job to anyone.”
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