Kliff Kingsbury may walk away from USC

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Lynn Swann has placed Kliff Kingsbury in check. Kingsbury may soon put Swann in checkmate.

With Swann, the Athletic Director at USC, blocking Kingsbury from interviewing for head-coaching vacancies with the Jets and Cardinals, Kingsbury may simply resign his position as Trojans offensive coordinator and move on.

Per multiple sources, Kingsbury’s contract has a very low buyout. But the buyout never came up because the NFL teams, honoring the strong mandate issued at last month’s ownership meeting, contacted Swann and requested permission to interview Kingsbury. Swann said no, and that was the end of it.

But that may not be the end of it. Kingsbury, the former Texas Tech head coach, may simply pay the buyout, walk away, and see what happens with any NFL head-coaching or offensive coordinator opportunities.

Kingsbury will undoubtedly find work at least as an offensive coordinator, given the demand for quality offensive minds (which will become more pronounced as NFL head-coaching jobs are filled with offensive coaches) and the extent to which NFL teams are embracing college offensive concepts.

However it plays out, many are surprised by Swann’s decision. He’s believed to be the first college A.D. to ever block a coach from interviewing for an NFL head-coaching job, and he may end up having plenty of explaining to do to media, boosters, and fans if he loses Kingsbury. Indeed, it’s possible that the Jets and Cardinals may have hired someone other than Kingsbury, which would have resulted in Kingsbury staying at USC.

Now, Kingsbury may be gone not long after he arrived.

58 responses to “Kliff Kingsbury may walk away from USC

  1. I understand not wanting to lose someone you just signed, but do you really want to be known as a program that blocks coaches from advancing to the NFL?

  2. Wow, this might be the first time I’ve ever seen people burn a bridge that hadn’t even been built yet.

  3. It was pretty odd for a college head coach to voluntarily become a college coordinator while he was in such demand in both college and pros. It’s as if he didn’t realize his own market until just now.

  4. USC is the most under achieving CFB program. They constantly get the majority of the top talent in Cali. Sprinkled in with top talent from around the country and still can’t produce. They haven’t been relevant since slithery Petey Carrol was the coach

  5. Kliff should tell Swann to go fly off a cliff while singing little Fats Domino.
    I’m walkin’, yes indeed, and I’m talkin’…

  6. The guy shouldn’t have taken the job if he wanted to look elsewhere. Swanny doing what he ought to do. Expect a man to keep a commitment

  7. He shouldn’t be in the running for any NFL head coaching jobs. But that is beside the point. Kingsbury should walk. He’ll get another job and it will send a strong message that interfering with someone’s career is not cool.

  8. Just because they let you in the castle doesn’t mean you’re the prince. Why did he sign the contract right away if what he really wanted was a shot at the NFL. Useless he knew(he obviously did)he’d walk away if he got a job he wanted. Which meant he didn’t bargain in good faith. Definitely not prince-like.

  9. Whwould any NFL team want to hire him as a head coach in the NFL?…He just got fired by a mediocre Tech program and no other college program wanted him as a head coach….Hire him as an OC see how he does…

  10. Kliff was getting NFL overtures BEFORE he signed with USC. He didn’t have to sign. Leaving now puts them in a tough situation having to find an OC a couple a month before Spring Ball

  11. Swann, the same guy who thought he could be elected governor of PA. Probably bitter no one in the NFL has ever contacted him.

    The USC leadership could, and should, override him. You should not stand in the way of advancement.

  12. This is a really bad look for USC. Kingsbury might be aiming too high, but who doesn’t like failing upwards? Meanwhile, USC looks like they’re denying him the chance to move up. Not the best selling point for the future HC candidates they’ll be talking to very soon.

  13. screbels89 says:

    January 5, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    The guy shouldn’t have taken the job if he wanted to look elsewhere. Swanny doing what he ought to do. Expect a man to keep a commitment
    So a commitment is between at least 2 parties so then that goes both ways correct? Swann should never fire a coach and instead keep his commitment correct?

  14. No college administrator can block a college coach for leaving for an nfl job.. this entire thing is stupid! the only thing you can do is prevent a coach from leaving to go to another program with a buyout!

  15. kneedragr says:
    January 5, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    There is really no upside to letting him interview, so I can see why Swann did it.

    There really is no upside to me returning a wallet if I find one laying on the sidewalk but I still do it because it’s the right thing to do.

  16. I know he just got there, but anybody would be foolish not to want to chase such opportunities. And USC looks bad for holding him back. What good coach is going to want to work there, knowing that they may not be allowed to pursue advancement?

  17. You can’t stop someone from pursuing opportunities. His contract might have buyout demands which is what any contract like that should but he can just resign and walk out, goodbye Lynn, you can’t stop me from pursuing jobs elsewhere. Whether he gets hired or not is Kingsbury’s problem but I would think he and his agent would have a wink wink agreement in place before that happens.

  18. You know what would really suck? If Kingsbury took the contract to court, arguing that the buyout should only have protected USC from him leaving for another College job. And with the way courts are out west, it would be hard for them not to side with him.

  19. Swann should’ve reviewed the contract before making such a foolish decision…making sure their wasn’t a buy out clause before denying someone the right to advance his career…

    Swann is clearly doing the anti-rooney rule…

  20. This rule makes ZERO sense and is completely appalling. This is a promotion and huge pay raise for Kingsbury to go from college OC to NFL head coach…Tell me why the Hell there is even a rule in place that would prevent such a thing???

  21. Kingsbury, the coach who dissed a future Heisman winner, the man fired from Tech because he didn’t win and the NFL wants him?

  22. I don’t know why any NFL team thinks a mediocre college HC is going to be a successful NFL HC, but whatever. Just let him interview, the worst that can happen is he get’s the job and USC gets money for nothing on the buyout.

  23. screbels89 says:
    January 5, 2019 at 5:11 pm
    The guy shouldn’t have taken the job if he wanted to look elsewhere. Swanny doing what he ought to do. Expect a man to keep a commitment

    How about give a guy a chance to upgrade his profession. Pretty sure you would want to do so. I always had one rule. Never prevent someone from earning a better living. No matter what they do or matter how much they make.

  24. If Kingsbury doesn’t want to be there, just let him go. If Swann makes it really difficult for coaches to leave, it will be that much harder for him to sign coaches.

  25. Can’t believe you honestly think that Swann is wrong for telling a person he just signed that he isn’t just free to go interview anywhere he likes the next day? Why even have contracts (clearly they are needed because some people apparently don’t have much character).

  26. I don’t see what the big deal is. Both sides are following their agreement. If he quits
    and pays to leave he’s following his end. The only difference if allowed to interview it’s with the assumed acknowledgement that he may still have a job if he doesn’t get a new one.

    I’m a firm believer in following the agreement and I’m not a big fan of “The right thing”, “They should”. Those things should have been hashed out beforehand.

  27. I understand this site is called “profootballtalk” but of course USC should do this. He just accepted a job offer from USC and hasn’t coached one game. Yeah he got an interview but likelihood of getting a NFL head coaching job was small, so hold him to it. Next year they should let him though.

  28. What happened to USC? Obviously, Pete Carrol did a great job and was going to hard to follow, but they haven’t come close to being what Carroll built.

  29. Why not interview Major Applewhite? He’s also a former Big XII QB, offensive guy who was just fired as HC of a college team. Seriously, has there ever been a head coach fired in college for losing and then immediately hired to coach an NFL team? I don’t see the logic here.

  30. “USC is the most under achieving CFB program.”

    I would say they’re in second place. The U is a unanimous first in that department.

  31. Swann should realize based on Kliff’s departure from TT, he’s probably not getting a HC job, but teams are making sure they do their due diligence. If I was a coach, I’d remember Swann blocking Kliff from interviewing should an opportunity with USC comes up.

    He’s potentially winning the battle but losing the war with that move.

  32. Gee, getting paid NFL HC money or getting nickled and dimed as an OC at USC. Kliff, tell USC to take their job and shove it.

  33. He should walk away. USC has had no problem dishonoring contracts and firing coaches. It’s not as if the USC OC position is what anyone aspires too. Hey Steve Sarkisian is available, Dirk Koetter anyone.

  34. Sounds like Kingsbury wanted an option to opt out of his contract. He should have insisted on that when he signed but he didn’t. There’s something to be said for actually honoring a contract.

  35. Kingsbury may find that it is much more difficult to confuse defenses in the NFL than it is in college if he chooses to take up teams on their offers. I’m not sure he’ll much more successful at the pro level than he has been in college.

  36. First, Lynn Swann shouldn’t be athletic director. If he’s going to do stuff like this, when it comes to recruiting players who want to transfer from USC, what are they going to be thinking ? Second, Kingsbury is partly to blame too, why jump at the first opportunity,knowing you could possibly get a job in the NFL ? People give him credit for coaching Mahomes, so of course the NFL was going to be interested.

  37. Swann made this harder than it needed to be.

    All he had to do was grant permission and say to Kingsbury, “Hey, we want you here but we know this is a great opportunity for you to grow so we won’t stand in the way of you having a conversation, just leave room for us to talk in case an offer comes your way”…the playing field stays level. Instead, he might end with a disgruntled OC or have a harder time finding a replacement because potential candidates will view him as obstinate.

    Kingsbury was already considered the HC in-waiting so this can only put more pressure on his relationship with Helton.

  38. So Swann gets to interview 5 guys for an important position in his program. Makes his decision, then tells the others who interviewed they didn’t get the job. Kliff decides he may want a different job than the new one he just committed to and Swann is the bad guy? Kliff can just buy himself out and burn that bridge, why is Swann obligated to help Kliff break his contract?… he isn’t.

  39. I am pretty sure Boston College fired Jeff Jagodzinski when he asked to interview with the Jets, they refused permission, and he interviewed anyway. No one has heard from any party since.

  40. So you cover your backside with guaranteed salary from an OC job with USC, and then you want to interview with the pro’s. Be an adult. Sign a contract, be held to your word and your signature on the dotted line. Swann was right to deny him from interviewing. Typical Millennial move. I hope the NFL ignores him!

  41. USC and Lynn Swan do not want to set a precedent here of people signing contracts taking the money than jumping ship for the next shiny job. All while under contract with USC.

  42. Jets QB Sam Darnold is a USC product, while Cardinals QB Josh Rosen is a UCLA product

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