PHILADELPHIA ( - If you were wondering how empty a title in the NFL can be, look no further than Duce Staley, the "assistant head coach" of the Philadelphia Eagles.

According to The Athletic's Josh Kendall, Staley reached out to the head coach at his alma mater of South Carolina, Will Muschamp, about being the running backs coach there, his true job description with the Eagles.

A conflicting report from NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank claims Staley never inquired about the gig and would never leave for a positional-coach role on the collegiate level.

What is known is that Philadelphia has essentially passed over the well-regarded Staley three times when it comes to climbing the ladder since Super Bowl LII vaulted Frank Reich from offensive coordinator with the Eagles to the big chair in Indianapolis.

Before the 2018 season, then-WR coach Mike Groh, who only had one year on his resume in Philly, leaped Staley on the coaching depth chart, ostensibly due to his experience with the quarterback position. Groh, of course, played QB in college at Virginia and was the passing-game coordinator for a short stint with the Los Angeles Rams.

When Groh was dumped after the 2019 season at the behest of owner Jeffrey Lurie, the Eagles went in a more convoluted route, adding passing game coordinator to QB coach Press Taylor's plate and bringing in former Denver OC Rich Scangarello as a senior offensive assistant and the coach who will ultimately serve as the filter between head coach Doug Pederson and all the offensive assistants.

That's two more lapping Staley and one who just got the building after a one-and-done stint in the Rockies. Heck, you can even argue Staley was passed over by offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, who was dubbed run game coordinator before the 2018 season instead of Staley.

South Carolina may hold a special place in Staley's heart as a former Gamecock and in-state native. Perhaps it's even one of the few lateral moves he might have looked at because of that history but Staley put Columbia in the rear-view from a professional perspective when he was drafted by the Eagles in the third round of the 1997 draft and had never looked back.

Since then it's been all Philadelphia with one exception, his sojourn to Pittsburgh to end his playing career. Staley's coaching resume has been all Eagles, climbing the ladder one step from special teams quality control coach to the RB coach before hitting his glass ceiling unless you put more stock into the label of assistant head coach than Staley himself does.

Sending out a feeler to be the RB coach at South Carolina when you have the same job in the NFL is clearly a step back in any coaching trajectory, one Staley's camp has now foreshadowed he may be prepared to take in order to satisfy two steps forward of ambition.

-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for You can reach him at or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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