Cardinals president says Kliff Kingsbury had to resign from USC before interviewing for NFL jobs

Arizona Cardinals team president Michael Bidwill, left, and general manager Steve Keim, right, introduce the new head coach Kliff Kingsbury to the media at the Arizona Cardinals Training Facility on Wednesday in Tempe, Ariz.
(Norm Hall / Getty Images)

The Kliff Kingsbury-USC saga did not end with his official introduction Wednesday as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals. At this rate, it might never end.

Addressing a smaller group of reporters after Kingsbury’s formal news conference in Tempe, Ariz., Cardinals President Michael Bidwill was asked to describe the process of Kingsbury becoming a candidate for the job. Bidwill revealed that Kingsbury had to resign as USC’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach before he could interview with the New York Jets on Monday and the Cardinals on Tuesday.

“We obviously were interested in him before he was available to be interviewed,” Bidwill said. “He had to go through the process with USC. He resigned and then we started talking to him and got him out here.”


Since reports leaked last week that Kingsbury was a head coaching candidate for the Jets and Cardinals, there had been persistent buzz that USC athletic director Lynn Swann was blocking teams from interviewing Kingsbury. Blocking a college offensive coordinator from interviewing for NFL head coaching jobs would have been an unprecedented move.

On Monday, when Kingsbury interviewed with the Jets and remained listed on the USC website’s athletic department staff directory, the assumption was that Swann had backed down and allowed Kingsbury to interview in the hopes that he would remain with the Trojans afterward.

Bidwill’s comments Wednesday were the first to definitively state that Kingsbury had already resigned from USC before interviewing. Yet, Kingsbury’s name remained on the USC staff directory until the Cardinals officially announced him as their head coach Tuesday afternoon.

A USC spokesman Wednesday said the school would not comment on Bidwill’s statement.

Many questions linger:

Why would USC push Kingsbury to the point he would resign from the Trojans without knowing for sure he was going to be offered one of the NFL head coaching jobs? If Kingsbury did not get the Jets or Cardinals job, he could have decided to remain USC’s offensive coordinator instead of putting himself back on the open market.

It would make more sense for Kingsbury to decide to resign on his own, if indeed he was being blocked. He could have not gotten the Jets or Cardinals head coaching positions but still felt very confident in his ability to get another offensive coordinator job in the NFL or in college.

After his news conference, Kingsbury was asked about what these last days have been like, a question that included a reference to his resignation from USC. Kingsbury did not address his resignation, nor did he refute it.

“I enjoyed my time at USC,” Kingsbury said. “It just kind of turned out to be what it was, and we moved forward from it.”

In the formal news conference, Kingsbury addressed his wild winter, in which he went from fired Texas Tech head coach to Arizona Cardinals head coach with a month-long pit stop at USC in between.

“It’s been a whirlwind, let me say that,” Kingsbury said. “When I took the job at USC, I couldn’t be more thrilled to have that job. I thought that was an incredible opportunity with coach [Clay] Helton, Mr. Swann and that program, that tradition. But this is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”

McCollough reported from Los Angeles.

Twitter: @BradyMcCollough