- Travis Haney, ESPN Staff Writer
Energy is everything when it comes to coaching football at USC.
It was never higher than Pete Carroll’s Fun 'n' Gun run in L.A., with future pros littering the field and celebs roaming the sidelines.
It had sagged to the point of depression by the time I attended Lane Kiffin’s last game, a loss at Arizona State in September.
And it had bounced back, to some degree, by last week when I saw interim coach Ed Orgeron’s team dismantle Cal on the road. It was the Trojans’ fourth consecutive conference win for the stop-gap staff, and there’s a huge game Saturday against Stanford. USC doesn’t consider itself out of the division and conference races.
Undoubtedly, the hire that AD Pat Haden and the school make will be attached to that buzzword and the idea of returning the program to the Carroll heights -- without all the messy NCAA entanglements, of course.
How serious are the Trojans? One industry source told me this week that USC is willing to extend an offer of up to $6 million a year to get its man. Yes, that’s more than Nick Saban makes (for now).
“This hire means that much to them,” the source said. “There’s only one USC. I talk to a lot of people who have worked there and they say it’s the best place they’ve ever coached.”
Why is that?
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s just a vibe. It has an energy to it. It’s like a cross between the NFL and college.”
I’ve already prefaced both of the following fundamental questions surrounding the job, but I asked around to gauge what sort of coach USC is looking for, as well as what coaches think about the job in its current state.
What is USC looking for in a coach?
Who fits the mold of the energetic, charismatic coach to lead that college-NFL-hybrid model?
When I ask those questions, most people point me in the direction of Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin.