As surprising as the Leavitt firing was the hiring of Pete Carroll as the Seattle Seahawks head coach. Carroll, who went 33-31 in stints with the Jets and Patroits,had been contacted several times by NFL teams over the years while head coach at USC, with none of the alleged courtships being serious until now. According to ESPN Carroll has already resigned from USC, meaning it's just a matter of time until Seattle names him to the head coaching experience. In 9 seasons as Trojans head coach Carroll went 97-19 with two national championships (including the split with LSU in 2003). However, lately things have fallen apart, as USC failed to win the PAC-10 for the first time since 2001 and investigations into the USC basketball and football program have been going on for some time. My guess is Carroll either knew a little extra or knows that probation is emminent and decided to get out of Dodge. Either way, USC is looking for a new head coach.
Here are my candidates for the two jobs described above:
Skip Holtz, ECU HC - Let's face it, South Florida isn't really a power college football team and they aren't a MAC or Sun Belt-caliber team. They are just somewhere in between. Holtz is a guy that will eventually be moving up from East Carolina, where he has a 38-27 record including two straight C-USA Championships. There really isn't a very sexy pick for this job, so South Florida should look at making the logical hire and look at Skip.
Mark Whipple, Miami (FL) OC - Mark Whipple could be an under the radar choice to replace Leavitt. Whipple, who just finished his first season with the Hurricanes, has head coaching experience with 16 seasons at New Haven, Brown, and UMass with a record of 121-59 and only two losing seasons in that span! The fact that he is coaching with Miami means that he can gain the recruiting aspect needed to compete with the likes of Florida, Florida State, and Miami. No criticism should be heard if Whipple is the second Bulls head coach.
Al Golden, Temple HC - It really doesn't seem like there is a clear choice to take over this program, so I'm just going with head coaches who have the experience of winning, and Golden is a perfect fit for this model. a former player under Joe Paterno, Golden has rebuilt the Owls from 1-11 in 2006 to 9-4 this year, including the team's first bowl appearance since the 1979 Garden State Bowl. It looks like he has what it takes to compete for Big East Championships year in and year out.
Steve Sarkisian, Washington HC - Sarkisian, who coached at USC for seven seasons, left last offseason to become the head coach of the Huskies, who were 0-12 in the 2008 season. Things have changed quickly for the better in Seattle, as in one season Washington upset USC and came one win away from being bowl eligible for the first time since 2003. I really didn't think that Sarkisian would be a possibility until I read this quote from ESPN. When asked about replacing his mentor, Sarkisian chuckled and said "That would be kind of fun. He's a great coach." Whether he was joking or not is unclear. If he does leave for USC, Washington will be in shambles. Expect a new rivalry in the PAC-10 if this comes true.
Jack Del Rio, Jacksonville Jaguars HC - Almost every candidate I've heard name to take the USC job is an NFL coach. Several of them (Jeff Fisher, Herm Edwards, Jon Gruden) either make no sense to me or have absolutely 0% chance of happening, but Del Rio makes sense to me. An All-American LB at USC in the mid 80s, Del Rio's position as Jaguars head coach isn't very stable (57-55 and only two playoff appearances in seven years). After this year's 7-9 disappointment, I believed that Del Rio would be fired. However, that doesn't appear to be the case. If I'm Del Rio I'm catching the first flight to L.A. and interviewing for this job because if I don't try to get this head coaching job, I won't have one a year from now.
Lane Kiffin, Tennesee HC - Don't be shocked if Lane Kiffin's name floats around the USC campus. Kiffin, who spent 6 years at USC, went 7-6 in his first season as Tennessee head coach. Two things make this difficult: #1) Kiffin looks as if he wants to stabilize himself in Tennessee (After all, he named his son Knox) and #2) it seems like Kiffin might have burned all his bridges when he left the Trojans to become the Oakland Raiders head coach. But could you imagine the staff at Tennessee, including Lane's father Monte and former USC assistant Ed Orgeron, moving west to Los Angeles? I think it could work, although it would leave many Tennessee fans fuming.
Chris Petersen, Boise State HC - This will be the only job that I see Petersen taking and leaving Boise State. Petersen, a California native, is 49-4 with 3 PAC-10 titles in four seasons as Broncos Head Coach. This offseason Petersen was awarded with a five year extension on his contract, meaning that Boise State wants him as long as he wants to be there. However, any contract can be bought out, and USC would be crazy to not consider Petersen.