Back in mid-October, speculation surfaced that Lovie Smith had interviewed for the head coaching vacancy at USC.
While Smith’s agent, who also happens to be his son, denied it at the time, the speculation has resurfaced.
Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com is reporting that Smith has already interviewed with the Trojans about becoming the permanent replacement for Lane Kiffin, who was fired in late September after three-plus seasons at the school. La Canfora did not specify when the interview took place.
While Smith is mainly known for his time in the NFL, he does have extensive collegiate experience, albeit none this millenium. Smith’s last post at the collegiate level came in 1995 as defensive backs coach at Ohio State. He also has stops at Tennessee (1993-94), Kentucky (1992), Arizona State (1988-91), Wisconsin (1987) and Tulsa (1983-86) on his coaching résumé.
Smith was fired by the Chicago Bears as its head coach in December of last year and has spent the 2013 season on the coaching sidelines. It’s highly unlikely that will be the case in 2014 as Smith is expected to be in high demand, especially by NFL teams that will be in search of a new head coach in the next month or two.
Steve Sarkisian, a former Trojan assistant under Pete Carroll, has also been mentioned as a viable (betting) possibility for the USC opening. On that front, La Canfora writes “[s]ources said that… Sarkisian was well positioned to land that position, though a recent three-game losing streak may have cooled his star some.” It’s highly doubtful, however, that, if Sarkisian is one of Pat Haden‘s target, the athletic director would allow a three-game losing streak to change an opinion that’s likely been formed on the totality of the Washington head coach’s work and what he could bring to the football program.
Not so unexpectedly, Sarkisian, at least publicly, denied any interest in the job when it first surfaced.
Of course, any report on a coaching search, whether it be at the collegiate or professional, would be incomplete without the requisite mention of Jon Gruden. According to La Canfora, USC “would ideally love to land” Gruden, but the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders head coach is expected to either stay in the broadcast booth or return to coaching at the NFL level.
UPDATED 10:46 a.m. ET: Matt Smith, Lovie Smith’s agent and son, tweeted the following shortly after La Canfora’s report surfaced.
“I guess unnamed sources have a better grasp of things than I do!!”
Take all of this for what it’s worth.
UPDATED 1:01 p.m. ET: The denials continue to flow like its Egypt, with Jay Glazer writing via Twitter a short time ago that he “[j]ust heard from Lovie Smith who was taken aback by report he interviewed for USC. Says absolutely did not and has zero interest.”