The Sunday morning firing of Lane Kiffin from the University of Southern California has become the hot story of the 2013 college football season.
According to several reports, USC athletic director Pat Haden pulled Kiffin off the team bus outside of Los Angeles International Airport early Sunday morning, and fired him on the spot. The team was sent back to campus, and Kiffin’s bag was reportedly left on board since he didn’t anticipate such a dire conversation.
The decision to fire Kiffin was reportedly made during the third quarter of Saturday’s 62-41 loss to Arizona State. Always accused of having a poor attitude with the media and college football fans, Kiffin was caught making several frustrated faces on television throughout the game.
The debacle dropped the Trojans to 3-2 on the season and 0-2 in the Pac-12. In 2012, the Trojans entered the season ranked No. 1 only to fall to 7-6, and Kiffin’s father and defensive coordinator, Monte, fell on his sword. But it was long speculated that Lane was the next to go if USC had another bad start to the season. In four years, Kiffin achieved a 28-15 record, with a 17-12 Pac-12 record.
Now Haden and USC will try to find Kiffin’s replacement.
Current Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, and St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, both USC alums, could be candidates, according to CBS Sports. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Del Rio is a top candidate for the position.
Either would follow the Trojans trend of choosing a coach with NFL experience, like Kiffin, Pete Carroll, and Paul Hackett.
The 50-year-old Del Rio was under consideration after Carroll left for the Seattle Seahawks before the NCAA bowl-ban and scholarship penalties took effect. Del Rio has never coached in the college ranks, but his eight years at the helm in Jacksonville included two playoff years, and he could be an excellent pull for recruiting.
However, it's believed Del Rio would finish out his year with the Broncos, even if Haden and the Trojans offer him the position.
Fisher won a national title with USC back in 1978 as a defensive back, and with the St. Louis Rams struggling in his second year, he could consider jumping ship. His expertise lies in defense up and down the pro ranks, and Fisher could certainly whip the Trojans back into shape. He was the longest tenured coach in the NFL before Tennessee fired him in 2010 after 17 years of service. That type of loyalty and job security is unheard of in the college and pro ranks.
After those two, there are several lower profile candidates with ties to the program, who may garner consideration.
Current Cincinnati Bengals running backs coach and former Raider head coach Hue Jackson held several positions at USC from 1997 to 2000 before he was called up to the NFL. In his one season as Oakland head coach, Jackson went a respectable 8-8, after previously working under offensive gurus Steve Spurrier and Marty Schottenheimer.
Steve Sarkisian has spent the last four years with USC conference rival Washington, going 30-25 with a 1-2 bowl record. From 2001 to 2008 he served in some capacity as the quarterbacks and offensive line coach at USC, and spent 2004 with the Raiders.
The youngest possible candidate is current Chicago Bears assistant Jeremy Bates, who was the offensive coordinator for the Trojans in 2009. The 37-year-old won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in 2002, and served as a quarterbacks coach in New York, Denver, and Seattle.