The Lane Kiffin era is over at USC. Kiffin was fired after the Trojans’ 62-41 loss to Arizona State on Saturday night.
Kiffin finished his tenure at USC with a 28-15 record, including a 10-8 mark over the last two years. The Trojans had a 10-2 record in 2011 but were never able to match the high expectations that surrounded this team going into 2012.
Although it’s early to make a coaching move, USC is making a good decision to change coaches.
With other high-profile searches expected to take place this offseason, the Trojans are getting a head start on the rest of college football.
10 Possible Replacements for Lane Kiffin at USC
Jack Del Rio, defensive coordinator, Denver Broncos
Could USC follow a similar path to UCLA by hiring a former NFL coach? It’s possible. Del Rio compiled a 68-71 record nine years as Jacksonville’s head coach and led the Jaguars to the playoffs twice. Although Del Rio had some success, he had only three winning seasons and was fired after a 3-8 start in 2011. Del Rio wouldn’t be a high-profile hire, but he’s an alum, and USC could surround him with a strong staff of assistants to help with recruiting and ease the transition back to the college game.
Tim DeRuyter, head coach, Fresno State
DeRuyter is a California native and is due for a promotion after his work with Fresno State. In two years with the Bulldogs, DeRuyter is 12-4 and has positioned Fresno State for a run at a BCS bowl this year. Prior to taking over at Fresno State, DeRuyter was an assistant at Air Force, Ohio, Navy, Nevada and Texas A&M. There’s no question DeRuyter is one of the rising stars in the coaching ranks. However, is he a big enough name for USC?
Jeff Fisher, head coach, St. Louis Rams
As a USC alum, Fisher could be a target for athletic director Pat Haden. Fisher has not coached on the college level, but he has been a NFL head coach at two different stops. From 1994-2010 with the Titans, Fisher compiled a 142-120 record. In two years with the Rams, he is 8-11. Fisher’s lack of college experience is a concern, but similar to Jack Del Rio, USC could pay big to surround him with an excellent staff of assistants to ease the transition back to college.
James Franklin, head coach, Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt is the toughest job in the SEC, but Franklin has led the Commodores to back-to-back bowl games. The Pennsylvania native is an offensive-minded coach, which would fit well at USC and in the Pac-12. Franklin is also an excellent recruiter and would energize a fanbase that was turned off by Kiffin. Prior to taking over at Vanderbilt, Franklin worked as an assistant at Maryland, Washington State and Kansas State and spent one year in the NFL with the Packers.
Al Golden, head coach, Miami
Golden inherited a mess at Miami with the ongoing NCAA investigation, but the Hurricanes are 17-11 under his watch and are back in the top 25 this season. Prior to coming to Miami, Golden transformed Temple from one of the worst programs in college football to a respectable team, as the Owls went 17-8 in his final two years. Golden is an East Coast guy, and it’s hard to envision him taking over a program short on scholarships after dealing with the situation at Miami.
Hue Jackson, running backs coach, Cincinnati Bengals
Jackson was surprisingly fired after just one season as the Raiders’ head coach in 2011. The California native has a wealth of experience as an assistant, including stops in college with Pacific, Cal State-Fullerton, Arizona State, California, USC. In the NFL, Jackson has coached with the Raiders, Bengals, Falcons, Redskins and Ravens. Jackson wouldn’t be a big-name hire, but he has NFL and collegiate experience and brings an offensive background to the table.
Chris Petersen, head coach, Boise State
Petersen’s name always comes up with high-profile jobs every offseason. However, no program has managed to lure him away from Boise State. Will USC entice him this December? Petersen is a California native, but the extra attention and scrutiny at USC is a drawback. In eight years at Boise State, Petersen is 87-10 and led the Broncos to BCS bowls in 2006 and 2009. Petersen is one of college football’s top-10 coaches. It’s unlikely Petersen will leave Boise State, but USC has to try to lure him to Los Angeles.
Mike Riley, head coach, Oregon State
Riley is the anti-Kiffin and would be a good fit at USC. However, Riley isn’t eager to leave Oregon State and would be a longshot to be the Trojans’ next coach. Riley was USC’s offensive coordinator from 1993-96 and was a head coach in the NFL with the Chargers from 1999-2001. In two stints with the Beavers, Riley has a record of 85-68. If he wants to leave Oregon State, USC should be interested. However, most believe the 60-year-old coach isn’t looking to depart Corvallis anytime soon.
Steve Sarkisian, head coach, Washington
Sarkisian is a former USC assistant and made Washington a factor in the Pac-12 once again. The Huskies were 4-21 in the two seasons prior to his arrival, and after going 5-7 in 2009, Washington has won seven games in each of the last three years. The Huskies are off to a 4-0 start in 2013 and ranked in the top-15 of the Associated Press poll after Week 5. As a California native and a former USC assistant, Sarkisian would be a great fit for the Trojans. However, he’s building a solid program in Washington and would he want to deal with another rebuilding project at USC? Sarkisian’s profile could get even higher if the Huskies finish with an 8-4 or 9-3 record in 2013.
Kevin Sumlin, head coach, Texas A&M
Let’s get this out of the way: It’s unlikely Sumlin leaves Texas A&M. However, USC – much like when it comes to Chris Petersen – has to at least inquire. Sumlin is 50-20 in his coaching career (Houston and Texas A&M) and has stops as an assistant at Minnesota, Washington State, Purdue and Oklahoma. Sumlin led the Aggies to a top-five finish in the final polls last season and has Texas A&M on the rise in the SEC West. Even though Sumlin seems content in College Station, it’s hard to make progress with Alabama and LSU in the same division. Could Sumlin be enticed by arguably an easier path to a national title? Unlikely, but again, USC has to try.
Pat Fitzgerald, head coach, Northwestern
Fitzgerald is a Northwestern alum and the Wildcats have improved under his watch. However, Northwestern is not an easy place to win. If Fitzgerald wants to win a national title, USC is arguably one of the top-five jobs in college football. It’s unlikely Fitzgerald leaves, but the Trojans would be wise to inquire.
Chad Morris, offensive coordinator, Clemson
Morris is considered one of college football’s top assistants and is due for a shot to run a program. Even though Morris is an excellent offensive coordinator, he has no collegiate head coaching experience, and it’s unlikely USC would hire an unproven commodity as its next coach.
Gary Patterson, head coach, TCU
Patterson is 118-38 in his tenure at TCU and guided the Horned Frogs through a conference transition from the Mountain West to the Big 12. Don’t expect Patterson to leave, but his name will come up. If there’s a job that could entice Patterson, it could be Texas.
Greg Roman, offensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers
Much like Chad Morris, Roman is due for a chance to run his own program. The New Jersey native has interviewed for college head coaching jobs in recent years but has remained a coordinator. Most of Roman’s experience has been in the NFL, starting with the Panthers in 1995, continuing with the Texans in 2002, the Ravens in 2006 and the 49ers in 2011. Roman worked with Jim Harbaugh at Stanford from 2009-10. Roman will be a head coach, but it’s unlikely USC will hire an assistant with no experience at the top spot.