Jack Del Rio – Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach
Analysis: Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio looks to be in the front of the line in the search for USC's next head man, now that Mike Riley has inked a three-year contract extension at Oregon State. Del Rio would be a good choice for a number of reasons: 1) He's a young energetic coach with a good defensive mind. 2) He was a standout linebacker at USC and would have the support of the alums. 3) He has had enough success in the NFL to prove that he is a very capable head coach. 4) He could bring former USC fullback and assistant coach Kennedy Poala with him.
Analysis: Jim Harbaugh isn't liked much by USC fans right now – but that's due in large part because he has shown what it takes to beat the Men of Troy. Harbaugh has come into the Los Angeles Coliseum twice and beat the Trojans each time. The former NFL quarterback can be brash, but he would bring some swagger back to a team that looked to have lost their edge last season. Under Harbaugh, tailback Allen Bradford would look good in the Toby Gerhart role, while Barkley could be used like Andrew Luck.
Analysis: Boise State head coach Chris Peterson is considered one of the hottest young coaches in college football. Peterson has had amazing success at Boise State, posting a 48-4 record, three undefeated regular seasons and two BCS bowl appearances. Before taking over at Boise State, he served as the wide receivers coach at Oregon from 1995-2000, so he is familiar with the style of play in the Pac-10. He recently signed a five-year contract extension, but the chance to take over the top program on the West Coast may be too good to pass up.
Kyle Whittingham – Utah Head Coach
Analysis: Whittingham , the American Football Coaches Association 2008 Coach of the Year, led Utah to a 13-0 record and a convincing Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama. This past season, the Utes went 10-3 and finished off another impressive season with a win over California in the Poinsettia Bowl. Whittingham has a perfect 5-0 record in bowl games. He is a defensive-minded coach and his Utah teams have regularly been near the top in scoring defense in the Mountain West Conference. It remains to be seen if the Trojans would hire a coach that runs the spread offense, like Whittingham does at Utah.
Jeff Fisher – Tennessee Titans Head Coach
Analysis: Jeff Fisher has been one of the best and most respected head coaches in the NFL since he got the job back in 1995. The one knock of Fisher is that he has never coached on the college level. With that said, he was a standout defensive back at USC and grew up in Los Angeles, so he is familiar with the area. He would get support of the alums and is a big name that would get the attention of recruits.
Mike Riley – Oregon State Head Coach
Analysis: Mike Riley was thought to be the first coach that would get a call when Carroll resigned but he just signed a three-year contract extension to stay in Corvalis. Riley, who served as USC's offensive coordinator from 1993-97 under John Robinson and helped lead the Trojans to a Rose Bowl victory, is highly regarded in USC circles. He has put together a very successful program at Oregon State and is one of the brightest offensive minds in college football.
Herm Edwards – ESPN Analyst
Analysis: Herm Edward played 10 seasons in the NFL and had a mixed career as a head coach in the league. He is an enthusiastic coach and his fired up style of coaching may be better suited for the college game - where have we heard that before? Edwards has spent most of his time in the NFL but his energy and passion for the game would translate very well to recruiting. Edwards is currently working as an analyst for ESPN and is thought to be interested in the job.
Other names getting mentioned: Steve Sarkisian, Jon Gruden, Gary Patterson, Steve Mariucci
Long-shot candidates: Norm Chow, DeWayne Walker, Mike Bellotti, Brian Billick