USC Says Unauthorized Individuals Posed as Trojans Reps to Court Coaches
Since firing Lane Kiffin during the early-morning hours of Sept. 29, the USC Trojans athletic department has been said to have made overtures to many high-profile candidates.
However, it seems not all of those signs of interest were actually given by USC itself.
In a statement released Monday afternoon on USC's official website, the university claims to have been alerted of two people falsely representing themselves as members of the search committee to court potential candidates.
UPDATE: Thursday, Oct. 10
Deadspin.com reveals the man behind the Tony Dungy Hoax:
Meet the prankster who offered Tony Dungy the USC job. He's at it again. http://t.co/RydEKzWX89— Deadspin (@Deadspin) October 10, 2013
In the report, prankster Ken Tarr also claims to have pranked other high-ranking sports figures including David Shaw, Jay Gruden, Mark Jackson and Ken Whisenhunt.
The school claims that one of the people falsely representing themselves as a USC employee tried multiple times to get in touch with "the Denver Broncos' coaching staff" to discuss the position. There were no specifics given on whom the person attempted to contact, but the easiest presumption would be Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
A former USC linebacker, Del Rio has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Kiffin. The former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach not only has deep ties to the school, but he also has a high enough profile to help reinvigorate the program. Online sportsbook Bovada, which has odds for the most likely next USC head coach, currently has Del Rio as the favorite at 3-1.
“I’m not in a position, nor do I have a desire to comment on speculation,” Del Rio told Mike Klis of The Denver Post when asked about his interest. “I’ll leave it at that.”
The other person the fake representatives tried to contact created shockwaves on the blogosphere: former NFL head coach and current NBC broadcaster Tony Dungy. The Super Bowl-winning coach appeared on The Dan Patrick Show on Monday and said that the school tried getting in contact with him via his pastor, as noted by Paul Pabst, who is a producer on Patrick's show:
USC asked Tony Dungy if he had interest in the head coaching job. USC called Dungy's Pastor to reach him...true story.— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) October 7, 2013
Dungy said that he had no interest in the position. He retired from coaching after the 2008 season and has consistently turned down overtures from NFL teams and other collegiate programs.
USC athletic director Pat Haden said the news of USC contacting Dungy came out of nowhere.
Tony's discussion on the radio today of being contacted by USC was a complete surprise to us. So were the calls made to the Broncos. I can assure you no authorized representative of USC or our athletic department made these calls.
Haden fired Kiffin after the Trojans fell to 3-2 following their 62-41 loss to Arizona State. Assistant coach Ed Orgeron was named the interim coach and is expected to stay with the team for the remainder of the 2013 season.
Both individuals involved in the incidents, who were unnamed in the statement, have been identified. USC claims that "appropriate action" will be taken.
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