His agent/son denied last month that he was in conversations with USC, but another report has linked Lovie Smith with one of the top college programs.
Jason LaCanfora cited a league source telling him that the former Bears head coach already had interviewed with the Los Angeles school for the vacancy created by the firing of Lane Kiffin last month by athletic director Pat Haden.
The team has performed well under interim coach Ed Orgeron, and Washington coach Steve Sarkisian was mentioned by LaCanfora as a possibility. Sarkisian has had two previous stints as an assistant at USC.
[WATCH: Is Lovie Smith a fit at USC?]
Smith has been doing consulting work with the NFL and has been expected to return to an NFL sideline either as a head coach or defensive coordinator. He is being paid for the final year of his Bears contract.
USC has had major issues with its past two head coaches. Besides Kiffin, who left Tennessee in a lurch to take the USC job, Pete Carroll left for the Seattle Seahawks as NCAA investigators were closing in on infractions that led to sanctions that included a two-year bowl ban.
Smith, with his proven record of integrity and leadership would represent a character upgrade, although he is believed to be looking to return to the NFL rather than go the college route at age 55.