The offense of the Denver Broncos, led by Peyton Manning, has been ridiculously insane this season. Peyton is racking up record after record, and the Broncos are putting the hurt on every opponent they face. Because of the amazing success of the offense, the defense has been overlooked, despite facing many issues – Champ Bailey is out due to injury, Von Miller has been suspended for the first 6 games, and Elvis Dumervil took his talents to Baltimore. With the recent firing of Lane Kiffin at USC, however, the Denver Broncos’s defense now has all the spotlight (for the moment).
Jack Del Rio, defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos, has been rumored to be the front-runner for the recent vacancy at his alma mater, USC. Lane Kiffin, the former head coach of Tennessee (and now USC), was let go by the Trojans after starting the season with a record of 3-2 and following a 62-41 loss at Arizona State Saturday.
Jack Del Rio is now stranger to coaching; He began his coaching career in 1997 with the New Orleans Saints, became the linebackers coach at Baltimore 2 years later, and served as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-11. In 2012, Del Rio was hired as the defensive coordinator at Denver.
While Del Rio did not have a terribly impressive record as a head coach at Jacksonville (68-71; But who can blame him when one looks at the players Jacksonville has had to work with over the years?), but he has shown immense talent as a defensive coordinator at Denver. Last year, Denver was 2nd in overall defense and 4th in scoring defense. So far this year, despite the losses of Bailey, Miller, and Dumervil, Denver leads the league in rushing defense, allowing only 43.3 yards per game.
Del Rio wasn’t too shabby of a football player, either. Del Rio was initially drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays from high school in 1981, but decided to pursue both baseball and football at USC instead. There, Del Rio was chosen as an All-American linebacker in his senior season, along with being chosen as Co-MVP of the 1985 Rose Bowl and finishing as runner-up for the Lombardi Award, given to the nation’s best linebacker.
If Del Rio is going to become the next coach at USC, however, it will not be until next season. Del Rio’s contract with the Broncos expires at the end of the 2013 season, meaning he will not be allowed to take a position elsewhere until this magical run with the Broncos ends (most likely after the Super Bowl, with the way the season is going thus far). Del Rio, himself, has stated that his mind is not focused on the job at USC at all, but rather concentrating on his job at Denver: “There isn’t anything to say. It’s all speculation at this point, I’ve got a job to do here, my focus is right there,’’ stated Del Rio after the 52-20 Broncos win over the Eagles this Sunday.
John Fox, the head coach of the Denver Broncos, also believes that Del Rio’s attention has not wandered from his job at Denver: “Jack’s committed to the Denver Broncos. I know all of his focus is on coordinating the defense and helping us win moving forward, so I can’t really speak to that, because I’m kind of a social moron this time of year.’’
Perhaps it’s not such a good thing that Fox is a social moron considering University of Houston’s tennis coach, Patrick Sullivan, apparently spotted Del Rio at LAX yesterday night, according to his Twitter account.
If Del Rio does decide to take the position at USC at the end of the NFL season, he will have a lot of work to do. USC’s legacy has been tarnished by an investigation in 2010 concerning money paid to Reggie Bush while he was playing for USC in 2004. As a result of that investigation, USC was given a 2 year post-season ban, the loss of 30 scholarships over 3 seasons, and the vacation of all the wins accumulated while Bush played as an ineligible player.
If you’re a betting person, Del Rio is currently the odds-on favorite at 3:1. However, if you’re looking to make a little more money, place a bet on former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coach, John Gruden. Gruden currently has odds of 8:1 to become the next USC coach. With all the jobs he has been rumored to take over the past few years, one eventually has to come through – right?
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