USC’s website has made the news official: Lane Kiffin is heading back to Southern Cal as the head football coach, leaving Tennessee after only one season.
We are excited to welcome Lane Kiffin back to USC,” athletic director Mike Garrett said in a release. ” I can’t tell you how delighted we are to have Ed Orgeronback on staff and to have Monte Kiffin join us. They are some of thepre-eminent coaches in the game. Ed did a marvelous job during hisprevious time at USC and we all know that Monte is a defensive guru. Iknow Lane will fill out his staff with other outstanding assistantslike them, ones who Trojan players and fans will really like.”
The hiring of Kiffin completes a whirlwind day out of Heritage Hall, where less than 24 hours ago they offered the head coaching job to Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio.
Kiffin’s hiring also leaves Tennessee Volunteer fans in shock. Kiffin leaves Rocky Top after one season, taking with him his two most important coaches and staining a program that had stability on top of the program for over three decades, with Johnny Majors, Phillip Fulmer, and Kiffin the only coaches since the late seventies. Kiffin’s hire energized the program, but was a major shift for the program, bringing in an outsider to coach a program that hadn’t done so since the days of General Robert Neyland.
“This was not a very easy decision and it happened very quick,” Kiffinsaid in a one-minute statement to assembled Tennessee media. “I really believed that this was probably the only place I’d haveleft here to go.”
Kiffin didn’t allow cameras to roll during his impromptu news conference, only adding that in his fourteen months that he gave everything he had and that the program was in a better place than he found it, before walking off to hordes of unanswered questions.
Bringing Kiffin back to Southern California brings a coach back to a school where he has recruiting relationships and experience in the conference, and a relationship with many of the holdover members of the Trojans staff. Furthermore, ESPN is reporting that Kiffin is bringing back with him Norm Chow, a major defection from Rick Neuheisel’s UCLA’s staff, and the first shot fired across the bow at his new rivals from Kiffin in his return to Southern Cal.
Kiffin’s hiring is a much needed victory for Trojan athletic director Mike Garrett, who had been widely ridiculed in the days following the news that Carroll was leaving. But the hiring could also be considered a brazen move for the athletic department long seen as lackadaisical under Garrett, and could draw the ire of the NCAA.
Kiffin ran afoul with the NCAA in his one season in Knoxville, racking up a multitude of minor infractions in his short tenure at Tennessee, and currently has an investigation still open regarding the misuse of recruiting hostesses at out-of-state high school football games.
The decision to bring Kiffin, Chow and Orgeron back to USC reunites the supporting cast from the apex of the Trojan dynasty. We’ll find out soon if the Trojan program can be what it was without its former star.
Talk about a story made for Hollywood…