Former Chicago Bears head coach and NFL assistant Lovie Smith has reportedly interviewed for the vacant USC coaching position. According to CBS Sports reporter Jason La Canfora, the Trojans were actually holding out for Super Bowl-winning coach and current "Monday Night Football" analyst Jon Gruden, but he’s apparently uninterested in the job.
Smith has denied meeting with USC officials and any interest in the job to Fox Sports Jay Glazer earlier on Sunday.
Other sources told CBS Sports, however, that Smith’s son, who is also his agent, denied an interview took place earlier this month, but that the school has spoken to the 55-year-old coach.
Following nine years of service, Smith was fired by the Bears at the conclusion of last season after barely missing the playoffs with a 10-6 record. Capturing three NFC North titles, he compiled an 81-63 overall record, going 3-3 in the postseason, and taking Chicago to their first Super Bowl in over 20 years back in 2006.
In that same Super Bowl, he and Indianapolis head coach Tony Dungy became the first black head coaches to reach the championship game.
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After he was let go, Smith was tied to openings in Philadelphia, Buffalo, and San Diego, but those teams went in other directions.
Smith’s teams were largely built around powerful, pass-rush heavy defenses that ranked amongst the best in the league.
Gruden has been tied to numerous jobs before, but it's believed he won’t leave the broadcast booth for anything less than a top NFL job.
CBS Sports also reported that current Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian is a favorite candidate, but he may have taken a hit with the Huskies struggling through a three-game losing streak.
USC athletic director Pat Haden has said the school is taking their time to replace Lane Kiffin, who was fired over a month ago and immediately following the team’s flight back from Arizona State.
Under interim head coach Ed Orgeron, the Trojans have gone 3-1, and the defense even picked off the nation’s best passer Sean Mannion three times in a 31-14 rout of Oregon State on Friday.