Report: USC Sends Del Rio Head Coach Contract

UPDATE: (2:40am ET): Wolf’s full story on the Del Rio contract offer. He also throws this in:

Sources said Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin was under consideration Monday.

I haven’t heard Kiffin’s name previously but nothing would surprise me.

Scott Wolf of the L.A. DAILY NEWS, the reporter who first broke Pete Carroll’s resignation and the news of Carroll accepting the Seahawks job, reports on his blog early Tuesday:

Scott Wolf reports USC has sent Jack Del Rio a contract

Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio was sent a contract by USC tonight to become the next football coach.

Now comes the tricky part: If Del Rio takes the job, he forfeits more than $15 million in salary from the Jaguars. If Jacksonville fires him, they must pay him the money. Why would Jacksonville fire him if they know USC wants him? Should make Tuesday interesting.

Indeed, especially considering  Jacksonville Jaguars beat writer Michael C. Wright of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION reported just before Wolf’s blog post that he’s “99 percent sure” that Del Rio will not go to USC.

Earlier I posted video from a Jacksonville TV station that showed Jack Del Rio leaving the Jags stadium after a Monday work day that stretched into the late evening. Wright  reports the reason Del Rio was at the stadium so late.

But there’s a reason Del Rio camped out at the Jags facilities until almost 10 p.m. on Monday night. He wasn’t doing it to assemble a staff for USC as it’s been reported (besides that, it would be pretty gutsy of him to do that from inside the building, right?). And he didn’t walk out of the building wearing his black leather Jaguars jacket toting a box full of his belongings. Del Rio spent all day and much of Monday evening in meetings with the staff and general manager Gene Smith preparing the club’s offseason plans.

Those aren’t the actions of a coach preparing to take a new job (even if he’s discussing the possibility of taking another job, wouldn’t it be wise for him to do it from somewhere other than his office in the team’s facilities?). It’s also definitely not what a guy about to be fired is going to do, right?

Del Rio said all along that he expected to be back in Jacksonville for 2010, revealing to me after the season finale that Weaver had quietly signed all the assistants to contract extensions during the season (the owner had been reluctant to do that in the past).

Weaver even told the Times-Union last week that he planned to “sit down this offseason [with Del Rio] and figure out all the things we have to do to get better” (doesn’t sound like an owner about to fire the coach to me). But for some reason, speculation about Weaver firing the coach continued to swirl. Perhaps the sour taste accompanying a 7-9 season that included four straight defeats played a part in that, in the mind of fans and local media. Who knows?

But rather than delving too deeply into all of this, I’ll just say I have a strong feeling Del Rio will be back as head coach of the Jaguars next season. I’m about 99 percent sure of it (can’t say 100 percent because as we all know, anything can happen). Let’s just sit back and watch it unfold. All the speculation should become more interesting as the day passes.

Don’t doubt that’s all true. But multiple sources have confirmed to me throughout the last three days that Del Rio has made it very clear that he’s interested in the USC job. Some of that could perhaps be wishful thinking from the USC administration, but if Del Rio wasn’t interested, all he’d have to do is call the media and say it.

He hasn’t.

That said, by not interviewing Del Rio before sending him a contract, you can’t help but conclude that USC is in a desperate dash to get Del Rio to agree to a deal before meeting with Weaver tomorrow. Why USC would be in such a hurry? Perhaps it knows that all of its targeted candidates aren’t interested. Mike Riley and Jeff Fisher come to mind.

Will any of this move Weaver? Probably not. He’s not likely to give Del Rio a raise to stay and he’s not likely to be overly upset if Del Rio goes to USC.

It’s decision time for Del Rio.

UPDATE: Wright on his Twitter account responds to Wolf’s blog post: “Believe me, I’ve seen it. I’m sticking to what I said though. As I said, I could be wrong. But I’ve also been in contact w/JDR (Jack Del Rio)

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