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Jack Del Rio reportedly interviewed for USC job during Broncos’ bye week

Jack Del RioFormer Jacksonville Jaguars head coach and current Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio is one of the names that has been linked to the USC head coaching vacancy. Del Rio was spotted in Los Angeles shortly after Lane Kiffin was fired, leading to speculation that he was meeting with USC about the job. A report from FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer on Sunday lent credence to that theory.

According to Glazer, USC athletic director Pat Haden flew to Denver two weeks ago — during the Broncos’ bye week — to interview Del Rio for the USC coaching job. Glazer also noted that the meeting took place the day before John Fox was taken to the hospital with a heart issue.

We don’t know how the interview went, but Del Rio appears to be a leading candidate at this point. His name was mentioned several years ago when Pete Carroll left for the NFL. Del Rio was an All-American linebacker at USC and also played baseball for the school. His contract with the Broncos expires after this season. Del Rio is currently serving as Denver’s interim head coach while Fox recovers.

St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher has also been listed as a potential candidate for the USC job, though he seems uninterested. Del Rio has downplayed speculation that he could coach at USC next season, though all signs point to mutual interest between him and the school.

Andre Heidari kicks 47-yard field goal to beat Stanford (Video)

Ed OrgeronAndre Heidari redeemed himself in the biggest way possible by nailing a 47-yard field goal with 19 seconds left to help the USC Trojans beat the Stanford Cardinal 20-17 at the Coliseum on Saturday night.

Heidari missed an extra point following the Trojans’ first touchdown, meaning Stanford only needed a field goal to tie the game instead of a touchdown to go ahead. But Heidari made the biggest kick of all — a 47 yarder — a few plays after the Trojans converted a 4th-and-2 near midfield.

“It was just another kick. Just take it the same way as another kick. Even though it was a game-winning kick, it had to be done. It was just a regular kick,” Heidari told KABC 7’s Curt Sandoval after the game.

Heidari also talked about the significance of the win.

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Matt Leinart leads USC onto field for Stanford game (Video)

If there’s one bright side to Matt Leinart not being on an NFL team, it’s that he’s able to support his alma mater on Saturdays. The USC Trojans took advantage of that by having their former Heisman Trophy winner lead the team onto the field before Saturday’s game against the Stanford Cardinal.

Leinart was as pumped as I’ve ever seen him. He got the team fired up, and it seemed to work — the Trojans scored on their first drive of the game, though they did miss the extra point and surrender a touchdown on the ensuing possession.

I went to UCLA but, speaking honestly, seeing Leinart out there even fired me up. If that was Ed Orgeron’s idea, it was a good one. I mean look at how hyped Leinart was:

Matt Leinart USC

USC reportedly willing to pay $6 million for next coach

Pat Haden USCThe USC Trojans are willing to spend big money on their next football coach, which should not come as a surprise.

ESPN’s Travis Haney reported on Friday that an industry source told him USC is willing to spend up to $6 million on its next coach. That meshes with what LA Daily News reporter Scott Wolf said. In the same article where Wolf reported that Kevin Sumlin is the school’s top target, he also said USC could probably double Sumlin’s current $3.1 million salary.

Nick Saban currently is the highest-paid coach in the country at over $5.5 million, per USA Today (full database). He reportedly will surpass the $6 million mark if Bama wins the SEC championship game and plays in the BCS National Championship Game this season. Mack Brown is the other coach close to that mark. He’s reportedly earning $5.4 million this season. A number of other coaches, such as Brady Hoke, Les Miles, Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer, are making in the $4 million range.

USC is one of the premier college football programs in the country and has an excellent history and tradition of winning. They’re looking to return the program to the levels of success enjoyed under Pete Carroll. $6 million per season for a coach would be a worthwhile investment for the school if they’re able to return to that level of national prominence.

Helmet smack to College Football Talk

USC scores on three punts in first half against Cal (Video)

Nelson Agholor puntIf you’re wondering how the visiting USC Trojans’ win over Cal on Saturday turned into such a blowout, look no further than special teams.

The Trojans tied an NCAA record by scoring on three punt returns, and they did it all in the first half. As you can see in the video, Nelson Agholor scored twice on punt returns — once for 75 yards and the other for 93 yards. The Trojans also scored on a blocked punt returned by Josh Shaw 14 yards for a TD in the second quarter. Their efforts tied a record set by Oklahoma’s Antonio Perkins, who returned three punts for touchdowns in a 2003 win over UCLA.

USC won the game 62-28 and is now 7-3, while Cal drops to an ugly 1-9. Take away two of those touchdowns, and the difference in score is much closer to the 18-point line the Trojans were favored by.

It’s been a long, disappointing season in Berkeley.

Kevin Sumlin reportedly USC’s top choice as head coach

Kevin SumlinKevin Sumlin is at the top of USC’s list when it comes to their search for a new head coach, according to a report.

The Los Angeles Daily News’ Scott Wolf says the Trojans are looking to make the hire next month and that the current Texas A&M coach is their top target. Sumlin went 35-17 as head coach of Houston from 2008-2011, including a 12-1 season in his final year. He then went to Texas A&M and went 11-2 last season and is 7-2 this season.

Sumlin has made the most of his quarterbacks at both stops; he had Case Keenum at Houston (the team went 5-7 the season Keenum got hurt), and he’s had Johnny Manziel at A&M.

Wolf says Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, Boise State’s Chris Petersen, former Raiders and Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, and Jack Del Rio have been mentioned the most as candidates.

Franklin went an impressive 9-4 last season with Vanderbilt, which is generally considered a lower-tier program in the SEC. Petersen has long been considered one of the top coaches in the country and has gone 90-11 at Boise State since 2006, but he has been reluctant to leave his current position. Del Rio used to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars and is currently the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. He’s a former USC player and reportedly would not leave his current position until after the season. Gruden hasn’t coached since being fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2008 season. He seems happy in his current role as an ESPN NFL analyst, though he recently said he would like to get back into coaching.

Former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith has also been mentioned in association with the job.

Would Sumlin leave A&M for USC? He has a lot of momentum going with the Aggies. Their donations are up, their new facilities are coming, and they have been rolling. But he’s also likely to lose Manziel after the season, so it wouldn’t be a bad time to bolt. Would Sumlin want to leave the SEC — the top conference in the country — for the Pac-12? Maybe considering USC is historically a better program than A&M and would likely to pay Sumlin accordingly.

USC claims people posing as Trojans representatives in coaching talks

Pat Haden USCUSC claimed on Monday that unauthorized people posing as representatives of the football program have reached out to coaches regarding the Trojans’ coaching vacancy.

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.

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