Two to mark off the list:
*Mike Riley: Decided to stay in his hometown and can thank USC for a contract extension taking him through the 2019 season. Oregon State is a great fit for him and he even acknowledges that leaving Oregon State the first time was the worst mistake of his coaching career.
*Jeff Fisher- Fisher loves USC and if the timing was different he might end up at Heritage Hall. However, he is due to make $16 million over the next two years which is quite a bit more than SC can afford. He is also very concerned about coaching with potential NCAA sanctions an not knowing the true direction of the University.
It could still happen as we have not heard him directly say he is not interested but a much better chance exists that he would be the coach 3 to 5 years from now if the new hire doesn’t work out.
Jack Del Rio– A fairly successful NFL coach who was an All-American player at USC. He is extremely interested in the job and the Jacksonville Jaguars are interested in going in a new direction anyway. He has the same agent as Pete Carroll (Uberstein) and he might be able to work out a deal that saves Jacksonville a little money because they are planning on firing him anyway (15 million) while also working out something with USC.
He is a great defensive coach with a great reputation. He is fiery and would fit in well at the college level. He can be a little rough around the edges and doesn’t have any college coaching experience which scares the USC administration and trustees.
If he gets the job, he would need to be complimented by an Ed Orgeron type recruiter and an experienced college offensive coordinator. He would bring former USC running backs coach Kennedy Pola back to USC.
Jim Harbaugh– His swagger and arrogance at times worries some but that might also be perfect transition after Peter Carroll. He is a great X’s and O’s coach that can recruit nationally. He would also surround himself with a great coaching staff. The major problem here is that Harbaugh now has a significant buy-out at Stanford and he loves Palo Alto and has the job security he wouldn’t have at USC.
Herm Edwards- He has the pedigree that USC likes and would be a top notch recruiter. He is not known as a great X’s and O’s guys and has very limited college experience (2 years at San Jose State in the late 80’s). However, he would be able to put together a solid staff and is well liked in the football world. Would he have the burning desire to put in the time required to consistently be a top 5 team at USC?
*second tier coaching candidates after the jump
**Mike Bellotti- Retired from Oregon last year but could be contacted if the top candidates do not work out. He is currently the Athletic Director at Oregon but I just don’t see this happening.
**Norm Chow- He has never been a head coach but won two national titles with Pete Carroll as the offensive coordinator and is known as the best coordinator at the college level. He absolutely loves USC and would also hire a top of the line staff. The reality is that USC wants to bring him as an Associate Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator.
**Dewayne Walker- Has strong SC roots and is a great recruiter, especially in Los Angeles. He does not have much head coaching experience and would possibly be teamed up with guys like Ed Orgeron and Norm Chow. The combined ticket of these three coaches is something that Scott Wolf of the Daily News is selling.
**Ed Orgeron- Loved by the SC family and is a master recruiter. He has college head coaching experience in a major conference and and is very familiar with USC. However, he is rough around the edges and not nearly as polished as Pete Carroll. A much better coordinator option but not a bad consideration if the first group of candidates does not work out.
**Steve Sarkisian- He states he has not been contacted by USC but that doesn’t mean his agent has not heard from representatives of USC. I am sure he would do a serviceable job but this should be a hire of last resort. He has only been coaching for 8 years and has only 1 year of head coaching experience. He is still learning his craft and this is not the job for someone to do that. Let’s see how well he does after Locker leaves Washington.