CFN Analysis - Lane Kiffin Taking Over USC
USC head coach Lane Kiffin
USC head coach Lane Kiffin
Posted Jan 12, 2010

The coaching shockwaves keep on coming. Lane Kiffin wasn't thought to be a candidate for the USC job, but he's taking off after a mediocre year at Tennessee and a disastrous stint in the NFL. Does this mean USC will still be special? The CFN writers give their thoughts on the big hire.

Instant Analysis - Kiffin to USC

The Tennessee coach jets to L.A.

Pete Fiutak   

This will be fun. Oh yes, this will be fun.

All I ask for is at least one year of Lane Kiffin vs. Jim Harbaugh feuding that should make the Kiffin/Meyer battles look like kitten fights.

Kiffin seems like he should make sense for USC in theory. He has a nice name, he was a former offensive coordinator for the Trojans, and he's apparently bringing along his dad, Monte, to run the defense. In the smartest move and the biggest coup, he's bringing along Ed Orgeron, who helped create the monster in Los Angeles as a peerless recruiting coordinator and line coach, went on to become the head man at Ole Miss, and then was an assistant at Tennessee under Kiffin.

It should work … in theory.

But the only problem is that Kiffin hasn't exactly set the world on fire. Has any coach gotten so many premier jobs without doing anything?

Sure, he was a great coordinator for the Trojans, but he went 5-15 for the Oakland Raiders and managed to outweird Al Davis on the way out. That showing in the pros was enough to get him one of the top head coaching jobs in college football, Tennessee, and showed nice promise leading the way to a 7-6 season finished up by a blowout loss to Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

12-21. That's his record, and now he's going to a place that will be grouchy if he doesn't come up with 12 wins next year.

But he might have time and he has to show he can be patient. The NCAA is almost certainly going to drop a hammer at some point (and will be roasted by fans of 119 other program if it doesn't) after all the shenanigans, there will be a blowback after losing Pete Carroll, even with Orgeron in the mix to recruit, but even if everything goes perfectly, can Kiffin actually coach, and can he do it without making the NCAA even madder at USC? Remember, this is a guy who made the NCAA types take an interest in Vols, and he's going to have to be squeaky clean. Good luck with that.

He'll get the talent and one of the big stories this recruiting season will be how the guys who were going to USC before Carroll jetted will still come to USC. And along the way, the Los Angeles media will be kept plenty busy.
Richard Cirminiello

You never thought Lane Kiffin was going to be a Tennessee lifer, did you? However, I know you never thought he'd stay in Knoxville for only one season either.

The news that Kiffin is bolting the Volunteer program after just one year is a bombshell, to say the least. It's obviously devastating for Tennessee, which now has to scramble to find a new head coach and try to keep the 2010 recruiting class from scattering in different directions, a nearly impossible feat. All those millions for Kiffin's assistants and all those promises of singing Rocky Top until the wee hours weren't enough to prevent a portion of the staff from packing up the Mayflower and getting out of Dodge. Strange behavior out of the coaching ranks, which is actually becoming a weekly occurrence over the past month.

No doubt, Kiffin will be a villain in this story, a younger version of Bobby Petrino, job hopping his way to the next big thing. I get that and won't argue with the labels. He's an, er, interesting fella, who's leaving a lot of casualties in his wake and seems to be followed by controversy wherever he travels. And that's what makes this development so doggone delicious. As USC prepares to possibly get slapped with NCAA violations, the program hires a young hotshot coach, who committed a half-dozen minor infractions at his last employer. You just can't make this stuff up.

Purely from an entertainment standpoint, what's not to like about this evening's news? Kiffin in the SEC was like Louisiana Tech in the Western Athletic Conference. It just doesn't make good geographic sense. Kiffin is a West Coast guy, who, if nothing else, will never allow USC to become milquetoast or run-of-the-mill. Mike Riley? Steve Mariucci? Love them as coaches, but Los Angeles needs entertainers. Lane and Layla roaming around Tinseltown? That just seems so right, especially in a city with no NFL franchise. Lane vs. Notre Dame. Lane vs. Rick Neuheisel. Lane vs. the world. This is going to be beautiful to rubberneck.

I know, you hate Lane Kiffin. In Tennessee, that's sort of a given. He's all that's wrong about where college football is headed. He's a loud-mouthed punk. He's the eighth sign of the Apocalypse. Dislike the man if you must, but embrace this hiring by the Trojans. A vanilla USC is bad for the sport and terrible for the Pac-10. With Kiffin headed back to California, those are no longer concerns. Is the guy the blueprint for what a leader of young men should be? Maybe not. He's also just a coach, with a penchant for spouting off his mouth, like a Super Soaker. Call me shallow, but I'm more than a little intrigued about his return to Troy.

Matt Zemek

1) Tennessee fans, learn your lesson: If a man walks like an idiot and talks like an idiot and quacks like an idiot, he's an idiot.

There's a familiar saying about how tribal divisions and situational particularities lead people to see certain men and certain actions in distinctly different ways. The saying goes something like this: "When you do something bold, it's an abuse of power. When I do something bold, it's inspired leadership." Mature people need to realize that when someone exhibits foolish and juvenile behavior, it shouldn't matter whether he's a Child of the Checkerboard, a Gator, a Gamecock, a Dawg, a Crimson Tide man, a Razorback, or some form of Tiger. Bad behavior and infantile manners should be called out no matter who is involved. If people in the public square – who are the highest-paid state employees in many instances – can't comport themselves with class and dignity, they need to be held to account.

And so it goes: The same Lane Kiffin who made this childish, impulsive, rash, and not very considerate move – insulting Vol Nation to an unfathomably severe extent – was the same Lane Kiffin who had already lost touch with sanity when he obsessively fixed every waking moment and every active synaptic nerve on one goal: Making Urban Meyer the most stressed-out man in college football.

Kiffin always acted the part of the village idiot with the scary off-field fetishes at Tennessee; ironically, after being treated like dirt by quick-trigger-fingered Al Davis, Monte Kiffin's son has now acquired that same disease in his treatment of a rightfully wounded football family in Knoxville.

Tennessee fans, learn your lesson.

2) Question A: When will the Song Girls have hostess duties added to the many public functions and responsibilities they already tend to?

Question B: How will Rick Neuheisel compete with Lane Kiffin in the "spoiled little kid sweepstakes"?

Question C: Given Kiffin's penchant for running afoul of NCAA regulations and rule provisions, has Mike Garrett lost his ever-loving mind?

Question D: If USC and Florida play in a bowl game, will Meyer resign for health reasons on the day the matchup is announced, and then come out of retirement the day before the game is played?

Question E: Did USC-Washington just become an even bigger emergent rivalry in the Pac-10 than USC-Oregon or USC-Stanford?

Question F: When will someone at NBC – realizing the demise of The Tonight Show - simply bring a camera and a microphone to USC's games, thereby capturing the dialogue between Lane Kiffin and his three favorite people in the world: Jim Harbaugh, Steve Sarkisian and Rick Neuheisel?

Question G: Can life get any more absurdly fun than this? Who needs scripted midday soap operas when you can simply offer the life of Lane Kiffin as college football's most over-the-top, betrayal-filled suds-fest?

Barrett Sallee

The best way to sum up the Lane Kiffin era at USC is that it was a whole lot of sound and fury signifying nothing.

Kiffin came into the SEC with a bang, guns a' blazin' and a mouth to match the fire power. Kiffin stirred Tennessee into a frenzy upon his arrival in Knoxville in December 2008, to the point where they were accepting of and oblivious to his antics. His brash style and relentless recruiting brought hope to a program that was stuck in neutral under former head coach Phil Fulmer.

He slithers away in the shadow of the night, after one very average season. The unrealistic expectations that Kiffin set for himself weren't even close to being met, and now he leaves Tennessee high and dry. Vols fans are furious, and rightfully so. That's not just egg on Tennessee's face, that's an entire omelet.

So where does Tennessee turn now? The timing couldn't be worse for the Vols. It's the height of recruiting season, and not only do the hot head coaches already have jobs, most assistants already have gigs too.

Lane Kiffin better have a police escort out of town, because something tells me that Vols fans aren't going to take this one too well.

Dan Greenspan

The band is back together. And the rest of the Pac-10 won't like the song.

Gone is the undisciplined group of lackeys, NFL retreads and learn on the job newbies that surrounded Pete Carroll in his last few years at USC.

In their place is the superstar roster of assistants that led the Trojans to unparalleled success in the first place – offensive coordinator Norm Chow, offensive line coach Tim Davis and defensive line coach/recruiting ace Ed Orgeron – plus Monte Kiffin.

Monte and Norm running the Xs and Os, Lane and Ed bringing in the talent and energy.

It's the formula that worked so well when USC ran through college football from 2002 through 2004, seamlessly transitioning from the Carson Palmer/Troy Polamalu Orange Bowl team to the Matt Leinart-led group that won two national championships.

Now, there will be discipline demanded of a defense that too often took poor angles and tackled badly, accountability for an offense that was killed by penalties and turnovers and an inability to execute in the red zone. Quarterback Matt Barkley, who flashed plenty of ability as a true freshman, will surely improve under the nuanced tutoring of Chow.

And the recruiting trail, which seemed to open up for UCLA and Washington and Oregon, must again deal with the West Coast's top talents going to play for the Trojans.

USC is better off than they were on Friday, when the coach of the last decade, one of the best in college football history was running the program.

The 2000's belonged to USC, but even that run was filled with what might have been moments – Texas, 13-9, Tavita Pritchard, Quizz Rodgers. That the Trojans only won two national championships gnawed at Carroll and those around Heritage Hall.

If Lane and co. deliver on the promise of this night, the 2010's could be the next USC dynasty, continued in crystal.