Del Rio is leading the Super Bowl-or-bust Denver Broncos while John Fox recovers from heart surgery and earlier this month he interviewed for one of the crown jewel jobs in college football _ the head coaching gig at his alma mater, Southern California.
Del Rio was handed a golden opportunity to basically audition for any number of head coaching jobs when Fox landed in a Charlotte, N.C., hospital two weeks ago and his doctors determined he could no longer put off an operation to replace his defective aortic valve that wasn’t pumping enough blood throughout his body.
And even though he came from a defensive background built on his 11-year pro career as a star linebacker, Del Rio never had a defense with the Jaguars like the one he leads in Denver with the likes of Von Miller, Wesley Woodyard, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Champ Bailey.
Although Del Rio and Fox go way back _ Fox hired him as his first defensive coordinator when he got his first head coaching job with the Carolina Panthers in 2002 _ Del Rio is not a carbon copy of Fox.
He told The Associated Press recently that he isn’t just channeling Fox during this stretch of games while his boss recovers.
“You could characterize it how you’d like. I’ve said very clearly, he’s established a blueprint and I’ve worked with him before. So, I understand John,” Del Rio said. “I also understand myself, having been a head coach for nine years. I can’t possibly be at my best if I’m going to stop and pause and go, `What would John do? Oh, uhhh.’ No, I can’t do that.”
The Broncos were impressed by Haden’s approach because college administrators are under no obligation to seek permission from NFL teams before reaching out to their coaches. Haden is a former NFL quarterback.
Del Rio interviewed for the Trojans’ job Nov. 1. The next day, Fox fell ill while golfing in North Carolina and his doctors moved up his scheduled heart surgery to Nov. 4, the same day Del Rio got the interim head coaching tag.