Here’s what the school wrote on their athletic site:
USC has been alerted that individuals posing as USC representatives made overtures to two coaches regarding the Trojans’ head coaching position.
In one instance, a person falsely identifying himself as a high-ranking member of the USC athletic department attempted to make contact several times with the Denver Broncos’ coaching staff to discuss the Trojan job. That person has been identified by USC and appropriate action is being taken.
In another, someone claiming to represent USC reached out to a contact of former NFL head coach and current NBC broadcaster Tony Dungy, who said on today’s Dan Patrick Show that he had no interest in the Trojan job. That person, again not a representative of USC, also has been identified and USC is in the process of contacting that individual.
Dungy, who is an analyst for NBC Sports, was a guest on “The Dan Patrick Show” Monday and said the Trojans reached out to him to gauge his interest.
“I don’t have any interest,” Dungy said of the USC job on Monday’s show.
“I coached for 28 years and had the best job in football,” Dungy said. “There was a time when it was just over with. … I don’t know anything about college football. College football is so different.”
USC athletic director Pat Haden was quoted as saying Dungy’s comments came as a shock to them.
“Tony’s discussion on the radio today of being contacted by USC was a complete surprise to us,” USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said. “So were the calls made to the Broncos. I can assure you no authorized representative of USC or our athletic department made these calls.
Haden also says the school has not offered the job to anyone.
Alright. Now that we’ve gotten all that nonsense out of the way, we’ll break down what’s really going on.
This is most likely a bunch of hooey coming from USC. They’re looking to control the message. If it’s out there that Dungy doesn’t have interest in the job, that reflects poorly upon the program. It looks bad any time someone has a job turned down once or multiple times, so the school doesn’t want that getting out. Or, say they’ve already reached an agreement with Jack Del Rio that he’ll be the team’s coach after the Broncos’ season ends, maybe they don’t want him to know that they reached out to Dungy first. Maybe they want him to think he was their first choice.
Plus, these coaching searches always work in funny ways with most conversations going through back channels anyway, because that allows the high-profile people to deny things. For instance, we’ve heard that USC retained a firm to assist them with the coaching hire. The firm has people reach out to the potential candidates’ representatives to gauge their interest in the job. It doesn’t have to be Haden speaking to a coach directly. That wouldn’t come until later. And we also know that powerful boosters/rich regents are often behind coaching moves and decisions anyway. You don’t think a powerful USC donor could meet with a coach to gauge his interest and then report back to USC? And if the story gets out publicly, can’t USC just deny it?
So what are you believing? That some phony person is contacting these coaches and impersonating USC? Or that USC is trying to put some PR spin on a situation so that they look better?
UPDATE: Do I have egg on my face? Dungy sent this tweet after I published this post.
@USC_Athletics I was not contacted by an official USC rep. Turns out it was someone acting on their own. I have apologized to Pat Haden.
— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) October 7, 2013