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Del Rio Sits at the Top of USC Horse Race, Mariota Top Heisman Contender

On Sunday morning, sports headlines were dominated by the dismissal of USC’s (3-2, 0-2) head football coach, Lane Kiffin. This came after the team had suffered a 62-41 loss against Arizona State (3-1, 1-1) on Saturday. On Monday the story continued with speculation of the program’s next coach.

Jack Del Rio

Jack Del Rio

At the top of the list is the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. He sits at 3/1, according to Bovada. For some this may come as a surprise since Del Rio has no collegiate coaching experience but he does have that USC connection: he played football and baseball there (teammates included Randy Johnson and Mark McGwire).

And he was very successful in his football career.

As a linebacker, Del Rio was an All American in his senior year at USC and for the 1985 Rose Bowl, he was co-MVP. He was also the third-place finisher for the Lombardi Award. Del Rio went to the NFL and was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 1985 (a third rounder), kicking off an 11-year NFL career. He also played for the Kansas City Chiefs, the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings.

While he averaged 53.4 tackles each season through his first five league years, in the following four, his production went up as high as 169 tackles and in 1994, he was a Pro Bowler as a Viking. He may have the top odds but the L.A. Times doesn’t have Del Rio leaving until his contract expires with the Broncos in February.

But Del Rio isn’t the only contender, Boise State’s Chris Petersen and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin both sit at 5/1. Petersen is unlikely to jump as he’s turned down big jobs before, reported CBS Sports.

Behind these two, sits San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator and former Stanford assistant Greg Roman at 6/1 and Jon Gruden at 8/1.

USC’s interim coach Ed Orgeron is 20/1 to make the role a permanent one and interestingly his defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast has a greater chance at 7/1 as well as Alabama’s defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian (who has denied any interest) both at 8/1.

As for the ongoing search, USC athletic director Pat Haden said via ESPN Radio, “You can’t forget your current team. I don’t want to be talking publicly about searches for the next three months while we have eight games to play and a senior class that deserves my support and respect and effort and energy.”

This week USC has a bye and will return on Oct. 10 against Arizona (3-1, 0-1).

 Mariota Leads in the Heisman Race

marcus-mariota

Marcus Mariota

With four weeks in the books for NCAA football, Oregon (4-0, 1-0) quarterback Marcus Mariota sits in the top Heisman spot at 1/5. In last week’s 55-16 win over Cal (1-3, 0-1), rainy conditions put a damper on his numbers as Mariota went 11-of-25, 114 yards and two touchdowns. This followed the previous week’s play against Tennessee when he had 456 passing yards.

To date, the sophomore player is 60-of-107 (56.7%), 1,003 yards, nine touchdowns and zero interceptions (162.58 rating). On the ground, he’s had 21 carries for 295 yards (14 yards per carry) and five touchdowns.

By the time Heisman voting takes place, Mariota could have 3,263 passing yards, 962 rushing yards and 46 total touchdowns. But he still has to get past Washington, UCLA and Stanford. This week, the Ducks face Colorado and will get another win (-38).

Good lucking winning twice but Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has moved up to the second spot at 5/1 followed by Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater at 6/1.

Keeping on topic for West coast teams, Oregon running back DeAnthony Thomas is 15/1 with some dark horses including UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley 15/1, Stanford’s quarterback Kevin Hogan at 20/1 and Arizona running back KaDeem Carey at 200/1.