- Jeff Legwold, ESPN Staff Writer
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DENVER -- USC may have already interviewed Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio for the school's head-coaching job earlier this month, but competition figures to increase for Del Rio’s services if the Broncos continue their winning ways into the postseason.
Del Rio has been in place as the Broncos' interim head coach since Nov. 3, or two days after he interviewed with USC athletic director Pat Haden. Team officials confirmed Sunday that Del Rio had interviewed Nov. 1, during the Broncos' bye week.
The following day Broncos head coach John Fox suffered dizziness and light-headedness on a Charlotte, N.C., golf course; he had open heart surgery Nov. 4. Fox is still recuperating at his home in Charlotte and Del Rio has been in place as the Broncos' interim coach since.
The Broncos (8-1) won their first game with Del Rio as interim head coach last Sunday in San Diego. And Del Rio’s profile could receive a significant lift over the next three weeks with two games against the 9-0 Kansas City Chiefs sandwiched around a trip to New England. Overall, should the Broncos close out the regular season strong and play deep into the postseason, Del Rio will almost certainly garner interest from NFL teams after he has stepped into his current double role with the team as defensive coordinator and interim head coach.
Del Rio’s two-year contract with the Broncos runs through the end of the season and Broncos executive vice president of football operations John Elway has said Del Rio would finish out the Broncos' season no matter what school or NFL team expressed interest in Del Rio. So a university like USC, which is Del Rio’s alma mater, will have to wait until the Broncos' season is over for Del Rio to come aboard.
That would be the first week of February if the Broncos advance to the Super Bowl.
The Broncos allowed Del Rio to interview with USC because Haden took the uncommon step of contacting Elway to formally request permission to interview Del Rio at a time the Broncos found convenient, something a college program would not be required to do.
Del Rio went 69-73 in nine seasons as Jacksonville Jaguars head coach before being fired 11 games into the 2011 season. He joined the Broncos as defensive coordinator in 2012. In the days following Lane Kiffin’s firing earlier this season Del Rio called any potential interest from USC “rumor and speculation," and said that “I am committed to the job I have right now with the Denver Broncos."
Del Rio was an All-American linebacker at USC and was the co-MVP of the 1985 Rose Bowl.
Should the Broncos advance to the Super Bowl, Del Rio could interview for NFL head-coaching jobs in a week-long window following the conference championship games.
4dEric D. Williams