On Monday, Carson Palmer dropped a bit of a bomb in the ongoing USC coaching search. As a guest on the Dan Patrick Show, Palmer floated Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin as a potential hire for the Trojans. While that might seem crazy on the surface, it makes sense the more you think about it.
Palmer claims he's been involved in some conversations about USC's head coaching search, which means he may have let something slip that's been discussed at the highest levels. That was indicated by Palmer's "oops" when Patrick dug deeper on the Tomlin suggestion.
Obviously we all know what Tomlin brings to the table. He's in his 15th season as the Steelers' head coach, he's won a Super Bowl, has never had a losing record and is 148-81-1 in 230 games coached. But things aren't great in Pittsburgh anymore. The Steelers could decide to restart everything as soon as Ben Roethlisberger retires -- which should have happened a while ago.
If the Steelers and Tomlin decided to part amicably, the 49-year-old would make one hell of a hire for USC. He's incredibly well-respected around the NFL, you can't find someone to say anything bad about the guy. He's engaging personally and as a head coach. He commands a room and would be a dynamite recruiter from the get go.
While a defensive specialist throughout his career, Tomlin has shown a willingness to tinker and try different offensive systems. He's run the Steelers as a power running team and a more spread out, pass-first offense. That leads me to believe he'd fully embrace the newer spread concepts that are everywhere in college now.
I can reveal that Tomlin's name has come up as a potential target numerous times behind the scenes in USC circles. There are people connected to the school with a lot of money who are huge fans of Tomlin and think he'd be a great fit in LA. These are the kind of big money folks who make things happen in college athletics.
If the Steelers and Tomlin did part ways, other NFL teams would almost certainly come calling. But after 15 years as a head coach at the professional level, he might embrace a change of scenery. He got his start in the collegiate ranks, spending six years as an NCAA assistant coach in stops at VMI, Memphis, Arkansas State and Cincinnati. Maybe he'd want to go back to his roots.
The chance to take a brand like USC from the depths of despair and restore it to its rightful place as an elite college football power should tempt plenty of coaches. The money, resources, facilities and recruiting grounds are there to be an elite program. All that's needed is an elite coach to light the torch.
On the surface the idea of Tomlin going to USC is pretty absurd. But as you peel back the layers there are actually aspects of the rumor that make complete sense.