Lane Kiffin and USC: Coach “Lame” Should Have Stayed At Tennessee, Or He Needs To Adjust To LA


Apr 13, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lane Kiffin reacts in the spring game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, the USC Trojans. Our friends, the USC Trojans. Of course Washington State just got done “D-ing up” the fantastic “passing attack” that is the Marqise Lee Show, and at the end of it all we heard the not-so-faint chants calling for the head of the head man, Lane Kiffin.

The (non) reasons?

Well, it wasn’t that his star didn’t want the ball. Lee had an incredibly frustrated expression on his face every time he ripped off his helmet while walking to the sidelines as the Trojans set up to punt… again. He continually threw up his arms in frustration when Kiffin continued to give up on 3rd down, as if to say “Are you kidding me, I’m sitting out here as the best receiver in college football and you’re gonna play conservative?”

But he didn’t get much of a shot. He was only targeted 3 times beyond 10 yards by my memory, despite drawing 2 pass interference penalties in those chances. 27 total receiving yards, negative rushing yards and a handful of Cougs glued to his legs, that was his night. It also wasn’t due to the running game, where Tre Madden did work, with 32 carries for 151 yards. Nor was it for the defense, we all know why; they’re fantastic.

It surely wasn’t because Lane’s recruiting has left the Trojans devoid of supreme athletes with the talent to win the Pac-12 Conference. He’s actually a terrific recruiter (or at least he employs staff that are great at recruiting). Nope, none of that stuff.

So why exactly?

Well, because he should’ve stayed in Tennessee! Oh, but it’s not quite that simple. For the embattled season that will be his 2013 (and maybe his last as a big-time head coach if things don’t drastically change), it started with the unpopular firing of Kennedy Polamalu. The fallout then was pretty drastic among players and even a few recruits had issue with it. It seemed from the outside, even then, that it was a terribly timed and calculated move by Kiffin to make for one of the most beloved people in the USC program.

Polamalu was the “acting” offensive coordinator and since his demise the USC offense has been tailor-made for an SEC offense. Maybe it’s even a little TOO SEC for its’ own good. Did you see Florida play Miami on Saturday (because it looked like the same offense)? Of course the other problem is that USC is built around high tempo, high flying, dynamic athletes and now it’s running a ball control offense.

Even Georgia and LSU are more dynamic than SC and that doesn’t sit well on the West Coast. Do you remember the last time USC was less dynamic than a Mark Richt coached Georgia team? How bout a Les Miles coached LSU? It’s never happened.

That brings me back to yardage and overall game-plan on Saturday against WSU. Two four-star quarterbacks (and a five-star in the wings), Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor on the outside and Tre Madden, Silas Redd or whoever else in the backfield. Even if those were the only athletes on the team (they’re not) it should be more wide open than that. Good grief USC put up 54 yards through the air. FIFTY FOUR!

And I’m not discounting the Washington State defense, all you have to do is look at the last 3 days of articles to understand my feelings on how good they are playing right now. Still, USC gaining 54 yards for an entire quarter through the air isn’t acceptable, let alone a whole game. They have the reigning Belitnikoff winner on their team!

But even before that firing of Polamalu, it just wasn’t gonna work. Kiffin wasn’t and will never be ready for the LA scrutiny, he’s not that type of guy, he’s certainly not that type of coach. And he should have known, coming from bombing with the Oakland Raiders organization, that Cali would treat him ruthlessly for mediocrity. He also should have known that at USC mediocrity is anything less than a Pac-12 trophy, which is even a far cry from whatever mediocrity means for the Silver and Black.

Before I continue, this is a tweet I saw early Sunday morning.

I mean seriously, what was he thinking when he was flying back for this? I don’t know for a fact, but I’m guessing he didn’t need this kind of protection at Rocky Top, especially from his own fans. I mean he wasn’t popular around the conference, but neither is Nick Saban and he rides around buck naked in Alabama. Ok that’s highly exaggerating, but you know what I mean, it’s not quite the same over there.

Yep, Lane Kiffin was the perfect hire for the Tennessee Volunteers, regardless of the antics that he displayed at the time. Looking back, he was just trying to measure up and he was going to do a good job of it, at least enough to not be chanted at – “Fire Kiffin”. Of course UT has moved on and is probably relieved at this point in the hire of Butch Jones in wake of the Kiffin-escapade at SC. But honestly, Kiffin would have made the same strides at UT.

He was maybe not the completely high character dude that Derek Dooley (Kiffin’s original successor) or Butch Jones are and he made “mistakes” recruiting (no doubt still trying to measure up), but he definitely had the gameplan and the attitude that could win in the SEC. And even if he didn’t ever win it, he wouldn’t ever have been measured by that alone, not with the coaches currently employed to roam the SEC sidelines.

8-5, 9-4 with some bowl wins would have been enough, but not in Los Angeles. Not even UCLA coaches can get away with that, as we well know in both football and basketball.

I’ll bet Kiffin is kickin’ himself every night, between the game-planning to try and win back his favor within the program and his calls out for possible coaching vacancies after the season (because a man’s gotta get paid). It certainly doesn’t seem that he’ll ever win back the fans in LA at this point, if he ever had them. A USC media-representative told ESPN he’s never heard the chants for a coaches firing in 42 years of covering the team!

It’s looking (from an outsiders’ perspective at least) as if “Lame” made the wrong decision. Should stayed in Tennessee big guy! Or your other option is to throw out your playbook and start letting your athletes save your job with their talents.