Kevin Sumlin
USC officials are reportedly targeting Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin to be their next head coach. Wikipedia Commons

Over the past few years, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has been instrumental in turning the Aggies into one of the nation’s premier football schools. And if USC gets its way, he may get a chance to have a similar effect on the Trojans.

As USC continues to search for a long-term replacement for fired head coach Lane Kiffin, Sumlin has emerged as the top candidate for the job, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. School officials reportedly hope to have a coach in place by December.

Neither Sumlin nor USC has publicly commented on the rumors of his candidacy for the coaching vacancy, but the 49-year-old’s recent success has made him one of the nation’s most sought-after candidates. Sumlin took his first head coaching job at the University of Houston in 2008, and quickly rejuvenated the school’s football program.

After leading the Cougars to three bowl appearances in four seasons, Sumlin became head coach at Texas A&M. In his first season at College Station, the Aggies earned an 11-2 record in their first season of SEC play. Sumlin is also credited with making major contributions to Johnny Manziel’s rise to prominence, which culminated in his winning of the 2012 Heisman Trophy award.

Sumlin might be persuaded to leave the Aggies for the West Coast, but he won’t come cheap; he earns $3.1 million season at Texas A&M, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. However, reporter Scott Wolf suggests that Sumlin could likely earn twice that amount per season as USC’s head coach.

This isn’t the first time that Sumlin has been linked to USC’s head coach vacancy. Shortly after Kiffin’s firing, a reporter asked him about rumors that he’d be one of the school’s top choices to fill the void, the Los Angeles Daily News reports. Sumlin declined to comment on his interest, but admitted that it was a compliment. “It means you’re winning and doing things the right way,” he said.

Still, Sumlin is hardly the only prominent name to be connected to USC’s search for a head coach. ESPN analyst Jon Gruden; former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith; and Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio have all been linked to the position. USC athletic director Pat Haden has yet to reveal if he’s interviewed any of the rumored coaching candidates.