Anytime there’s a job opening as big as the head coach position for the University of Southern California’s football team, lots of names are going to surface as candidates for that gig.
One very interesting name has emerged in the days following Lane Kiffin’s firing that will be of interest to Indianapolis Colts fans and followers.
There’s a growing bit of murmuring that Colts first-year offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton is on USC Athletic Director Pat Haden’s short list.
It’s difficult to tell how much merit these early rumblings have, because Haden isn’t commenting on any potential candidates and even if a candidate had been contacted by a USC intermediary, you can bet they’re not talking either.
Most observers think Haden’s top candidate is Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, a USC graduate. Long before Del Rio was the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, he was an all-American linebacker for USC.
Going after Del Rio makes a lot of sense for the Trojans. There are bound to be many other candidates for the job and there is no shortage of names being run through the rumor mill.
Hamilton to USC might be a bit of a stretch given his lack of head coaching experience compared to other likely candidates for the high-profile job. But others insist he has the skill set Haden wants at USC. Just last year, another Pac-12 school, Oregon, interviewed Hamilton to replace Chip Kelly as its head coach. Hamilton certainly appears capable of running an offense.
Hamilton, 39, began his coaching career at his alma mater, Howard, where he served as the Bison’s quarterbacks coach from 1997-2001. He took on duties as the team’s offensive coordinator for three seasons (1999-2001). A former college quarterback, Hamilton earned Howard’s scholar-athlete award in 1995 and 1996 before earning his business degree in 1997.
He later worked stints for the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears before heading back to the college ranks.
Hamilton is no stranger to the Pac-12, the conference in which USC plays. Hamilton spent three seasons at Stanford University (2010-12), his last two as the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He worked closely at Stanford with quarterback Andrew Luck, who was a two-time Heisman Trophy finalist and the Pac-12 Conference Player of the Year (2010 and 2011). Luck is now the Colts' quarterback.
Whether Hamilton ever sits down with Haden to talk about the job is anything but certain. And while the Colts aren’t likely to stand in the way of Hamilton advancing his career, they surely wouldn’t be happy about losing him.
While Luck appears well on his way to becoming a top-notch NFL quarterback, having three offensive coordinators in his first three years in the league certainly won’t accelerate his growth.
In Indianapolis, Hamilton replaced Bruce Arians, who departed to become the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.