|Kyle Terada / USA Today Sports|
|USC athletic director Pat Haden said he was surprised when Tony Dungy said he was contacted by the school.|
Just when the USC coaching situation couldn't get more bizarre or captivating after the firing of Lane Kiffin, this latest gem surfaced Monday: Two imposters claiming to be representatives of the athletic department contacted former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy and current Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.
That's what athletic director Pat Haden alleged happened in a statement posted online Monday afternoon. The disclosure came hours after Dungy said in a radio interview that he was contacted about the USC vacancy but had no interest in a return to coaching.
"Tony's discussion on the radio today of being contacted by USC was a complete surprise to us," Haden said. "So were the calls made to the Broncos. I can assure you no authorized representative of USC or our athletic department made these calls.
"As I said last week, we will not comment on every name that comes out," he said. "It would be a disservice to our players and coaches, who are devoting everything they have into the remainder of our season. We have a head coach right now in Ed Orgeron. We have not offered the job to anyone."
Haden said USC has identified the two individuals and is taking steps to remedy the situation.
Dungy took to Twitter to back Haden's claims.
@USC_Athletics I was not contacted by an official USC rep. Turns out it was someone acting on their own. I have apologized to Pat Haden.â Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) October 7, 2013
That Haden went public to announce he hadn't reached out to Dungy and Del Rio about the coaching vacancy reflected the school's preference to perform a search that does not play out in full view. After a fairly public search for a men's basketball coach that ended with the hiring of NCAA Tournament breakout star Andy Enfield from Florida Gulf Coast, Haden should be better positioned to run a more cloak-and-dagger campaign this time around, especially given the impact an ill-timed leak could have on a candidate's current team.
At least Twitter kept itself amused by USC's statement.
"Hi, this is Lenay Kekua from USC Athletics..."â Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) October 7, 2013
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.