DENVER -- Looking as relaxed as a guy can look when he’s the defensive coordinator of a team that has yet to have two of its best players in its lineup in four games this season, Jack Del Rio said he was aware Sunday about the speculation about his potential interest in the newly opened USC head coaching job.
But he just doesn't have much to offer right now.
“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.’’
Del Rio’s name was linked almost immediately following Lane Kiffin’s firing at USC Sunday, given Del Rio’s head coaching experience and the fact he played at USC in college. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that Del Rio will be a top candidate for the USC job. The school fired Kiffin shortly after the team returned from a 62-41 loss at Arizona State.
However, several team sources say USC officials will have to be willing to wait to give Del Rio the job. Del Rio’s contract, signed before the 2012 season, is up following the season, but Del Rio couldn’t leave for a new job until the Broncos are done playing, and that includes any postseason games.
So even if Del Rio were to accept a position with a college program, that program would have to wait until early February for him to arrive on campus if the Broncos advance to the Super Bowl. Some in the league who have known Del Rio for an extended period of time say the former Jacksonville Jaguars coach might want to see what NFL head coaching opportunities are there at the end of the season as well.
The first opportunity for NFL teams to interview head coaching candidates from Super Bowl teams is in the week following the conference championship games.
Asked following Sunday’s game about Del Rio’s potential interest in the USC position, Broncos coach John Fox said; “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.’’
Asked if he would allow Del Rio to interview with a college team that was interested during the season, Fox said; “Um, again I can’t speak in hypotheticals, we’ll just trot down the road as we go, one day at a time.’’
Del Rio is in his second season as the Broncos defensive coordinator after a nine-year run as the Jacksonville Jaguars' head coach. Now in his second season in his job with the Broncos, he is a rare assistant in that position. When he was hired by Fox before the 2012 season, Del Rio became the team’s seventh defensive coordinator in seven seasons.
But the Broncos finished second in total defense last season to go with fourth in scoring defense. This season, with the Broncos’ historically high-scoring offense having helped the Broncos put together four routs, the defense is tied for 22nd in scoring defense and 26th in yards allowed. The Broncos have also played all four of their games without 12-time Pro Bowl selection Champ Bailey and linebacker Von Miller in the lineup. Bailey has been out with a left foot injury, and Miller is suspended for the season’s first six games for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.