USC has fired head coach Steve Sarkisian, opening up one of the most attractive jobs in college football — a job that may draw interest from NFL coaches, including Chip Kelly.
“After careful consideration of what is in the best interest of the university and our student-athletes, I have made the decision to terminate Steve Sarkisian, effective immediately,” USC athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement. “I want to thank Clay Helton for stepping into the interim head coach role, and I want to add how proud I am of our coaching staff and players and the way they are responding to this difficult situation. Through all of this we remain concerned for Steve and hope that it will give him the opportunity to focus on his personal well being.”
Speculation will immediately turn to Philadelphia, where Kelly is known as a coach the USC brass would love to have. Despite a big win for the Eagles yesterday, it’s an open question whether Kelly has what it takes to succeed in the NFL. But there’s no question that he has what it takes to succeed in college, and if he has any interest in going back to school, USC and Kelly would be a great fit.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio and Rams coach Jeff Fisher both played at USC and have both been mentioned in the past as potential USC head coaches, although both seem like extreme long shots at this point.
Another possibility in the NFL is Bills offensive coordinator Greg Roman. Although Roman has never been a head coach at any level, he knows the Pac-12 well after working as an assistant to Jim Harbaugh at Stanford before Harbaugh brought Roman along to the 49ers.
USC has major resources and is determined to get this coaching hire right after getting the first two hires of the post-Pete Carroll era (Lane Kiffin and Sarkisian) very wrong. If the USC athletic department makes an NFL coach its top target, that coach will get a very tempting offer.