Report: USC is denying NFL teams permission to interview Kliff Kingsbury

Texas Tech Kliff Kingsbury walks off the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)
Texas Tech Kliff Kingsbury walks off the field during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Texas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Lubbock, Texas. (AP Photo/Brad Tollefson)

USC is not too keen on the idea of new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury heading to the NFL.

According to a report from ESPN, USC has denied the New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals the opportunity to interview Kingsbury. The former Texas Tech head coach was fired by the Red Raiders at the end of the 2018 season and was hired by USC to be the team’s offensive coordinator not long after he was dismissed in Lubbock.

Because of his offensive acumen and the fact that he coached Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes (and Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield before he transferred to Oklahoma), Kingsbury has been wanted for interviews by NFL teams with head-coach openings. But athletic directors are allowed to deny NFL teams permission to interview their coaches and, per Adam Schefter, NFL teams have been told to respect those requests or face consequences.

At last month’s NFL owners meetings in Dallas, league officials informed team executives that they now had to request permission from college athletic directors to interview college coaches. Not doing so would be considered “conduct detrimental” and the NFL then could dock draft picks from teams, sources said.

“If permission is denied, the NFL club should respect that decision just as it would respect a similar decision from another NFL club,” the rule states in part. “NFL clubs that fail to follow these protocols may be subject to disciplinary action for conduct detrimental to the League.”

Report: Kingsbury may resign at USC

With Swann denying him opportunities, Kingsbury may opt to leave USC altogether.

Pro Football Talk is reporting that Kingsbury is mulling simply resigning and paying his own buyout so he is free to accept any other job, including NFL head-coaching and coordinator positions.

Per multiple sources, Kingsbury’s contract has a very low buyout. But the buyout never came up because the NFL teams, honoring the strong mandate issued at last month’s ownership meeting, contacted Swann and requested permission to interview Kingsbury. Swann said no, and that was the end of it. But that may not be the end of it. Kingsbury, the former Texas Tech head coach, may simply pay the buyout, walk away, and see what happens with any NFL head-coaching or offensive coordinator opportunities.

Kingsbury was hired at USC 10 days after he was fired

Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson reported earlier in the week that the Cardinals and Jets were looking to interview Kingsbury. If they could, of course. They apparently cannot.

This wrinkle leads to a big question: Why did he sign on with USC so soon if the Trojans were going to deny him from interviewing with NFL teams for head coaching jobs?

Kingsbury was fired at Texas Tech on Nov. 25 and was immediately connected with NFL assistant jobs after the news of his dismissal broke. Robinson said on this week’s Yahoo Sports NFL podcast that Kingsbury had a dialogue with multiple NFL teams after he was fired.

Yet Kingsbury signed on as USC’s offensive coordinator 10 days after he was fired at Tech. Robinson also noted on the podcast that he believed Kingsbury made the decision to sign with the Trojans so soon because he didn’t want to be an offensive coordinator in the NFL under a coach who could be under pressure to succeed or lose his job.

But, as we know, there’s a difference between being an offensive coordinator for a team that’s looking for a change on one side of the ball and the head coach in charge of an entire team.

Kingsbury went 35-40 in his time at Texas Tech, his alma mater, and the Red Raiders were 5-7 in 2018.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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