USC head coaching candidates

Posted by: Pete Roussel on Sunday September 29, 2013


With the termination of head coach Lane Kiffin on Sunday morning, USC will begin a coaching search.

The tradition-rich program will attract no shortage of quality coaching candidates due to the program’s history of winning championships, a brand new state-of-the-art football facility, and the rise of the PAC-12.

Athletic director Pat Haden will immediately begin the process of evaluating candidates, which could include Jon Gruden, Chris Petersen, Steve Sarkisian, Kevin Sumlin, Tim DeRuyter, James Franklin, and Pat Fitzgerald.

How will the coaching search play out?

Do not expect Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio or St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher to emerge in the search.  Del Rio is a former USC player who earned All-American honors and was the MVP of the 1985 Rose Bowl.  Fisher is a USC graduate.

Do expect many to voice their opinion including Keyshawn Johnson and a bevy of former Trojans that are now in the NFL.

At some point, Jon Gruden is going to return to coaching. Gruden said last week, “I do get the itch a lot. I miss it tremendously.”  Though most believe when he returns, it will be as an NFL coach, perhaps Los Angeles and the USC history is enough to entice Gruden to, at the least, consider the job.  Given the job is now open, there is plenty of time to evaluate the pros and cons.

Would Chris Petersen (48) leave Boise State for USC? One thing to remember, per his contract, is that Petersen must provide written (or email) notice at least 24 hours before interviewing for a coaching job at another college or with a professional team.

Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian (39) coached under Pete Carroll at USC from 2005-2008. Since becoming the Washington head coach in 2009, Sarkisian has led the program to records of 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6, and 4-0.      

Texas A&M is going all-in. The university is on the verge of remodeling Kyle Field at a cost of $450 million, so Kevin Sumlin would need several reasons to even consider leaving Aggieland. At the top of that list could be the enticement of living in Los Angeles instead of College Station.  Not to mention, as Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said recently, “The SEC will grind you to a pulp.”  You tell me: Which program, USC or Texas A&M, will win a national championship in the next decade?

Read: Top 8 coordinators on the verge on landing head coaching jobs

James Franklin is 18-13 in three seasons at Vanderbilt.  He has clearly elevated the program and he is extremely likeable. Franklin's passion, marketing skills, and work ethic could make him a good fit at USC despite limited West Coast experience.

Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter (50) is 12-4 in two seasons as a head coach.  DeRuyter, who is originally from Long Beach, CA., led the Bulldogs to the Mountain West Conference championship in his first season.  He has coached under the likes of Kevin Sumlin, Troy Calhoun, and Jim Grobe.

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Pete Roussel is a valuable resource for coaches, athletic directors, NFL front-office personnel, and college football enthusiasts. A former college football coach, Roussel shares insight on coaches 365 days a year and is recognized as the most trusted expert on coaching transactions. Follow @CoachingSearch on twitter and send your feedback to pete@coachingsearch.comtest