Reggie Bush has long been assumed the top pick in the NFL draft, but after Vince Young's performance in the Rose Bowl, the Trojans wanted some assurance before the Heisman Trophy winner agreed to forgo his senior season.
USC sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that coach Pete Carroll gave his blessing for Bush to turn pro only after being assured by Texans owner Bob McNair that the running back would be the No. 1 pick in the draft.
McNair, however, denies telling Carroll that Bush was a lock at No. 1.
"Pete Carroll did call me, but he talked to me about Bush and never asked if we were going to take him, and if he had I wouldn't have told him that because we haven't even hired our coach," McNair told the Houston Chronicle on Sunday.
Young, a Texas native, led his Longhorns to a victory over the favored Trojans in the national championship and ignited a public frenzy demanding Houston select the quarterback instead of Bush.
However, the Texans appear to be sticking with their initial plan of drafting the running back -- a preference of the top candidate to become their head coach.
A Broncos source told Mortensen that Gary Kubiak, Denver's offensive coordinator and the favorite for the Texans' head coaching post, believes current Houston quarterback David Carr can flourish with a new offense headlined by Bush and wide receiver Andre Johnson.
"We don't know who we're going to draft right now," McNair told the Chronicle. "After we hire our coach, the evaluation process will still have a long way to go. We want to pick the player we feel will give us the best chance to win."
Kubiak, a Houston native, is widely considered the likely successor to Dom Capers, who was fired as Texans coach on Jan. 2, one day after finishing a 2-14 season with a loss at San Francisco.
However, under NFL tampering rules, the Texans cannot comment about or finalize any moves involving Kubiak until the Broncos' season is over. Denver advanced to the AFC championship game with a 27-13 win over the New England Patriots on Saturday.