The University of Southern California, who fired Steve Sarkisian for allegedly attending university functions, practices and possible games while intoxicated, requested an interview with Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson during their search for a new head coach.
According to a report by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the interview never happened because the timing "did not and could not work out" while the Bengals were in the middle of a regular season, gearing up for a postseason run.
USC wanted to interview Bengals OC Hue Jackson for head coach job, but timing did not and could not work out during NFL season, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 30, 2015
USC announced a five-year deal with Clay Helton on Monday, removing the interim tag on his title.
Jackson, after being fired as Oakland's head coach in 2011, returned to Cincinnati in 2012 as an assistant defensive backs and special teams coach. He was eventually promoted to running backs coach in 2013 after Jim Anderson's retirement and replaced Jay Gruden, who became head coach for the Washington Redskins, as the team's offensive coordinator last year.
Thanks to injuries (and typical growing pains associated with new coordinators), Cincinnati's overall and scoring offense ranked 15th (348 yards/game and 22.8 points scored/game) last season. A healthy roster and significant growth from Andy Dalton has helped improve the total and scoring offense, which now ranks 7th (376.2 yards/game) and 4th (27.0 points/game) respectively, this season.
Naturally, he should garner significant interest for vacant head coaching positions.
Jackson has generated interest at other colleges in the past, notably from the University of California where he was a candidate to replace fired head coach Jeff Tedford during the 2012 season. Despite genuine interest and a reported interview, Jackson lost out to eventual head coach Sonny Dykes. There was also limited interest at the University of Tennessee. More recently, Jackson has generally been mentioned as a peripheral candidate around the NFL.