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Kiffin short-term fix, long-term danger for Trojans

Within an hour of Lane Kiffin’s shocking announcement that he’s leaving Tennessee to return to Southern Cal, Scott Wolf of the LA Daily News announced that assistant coach Ed Orgeron was already working in Heritage Hall, likely chasing down Trojan recruits that were waving in the wind. Meanwhile, across the country WATE-TV in Knoxville reports that Oregeron was heard using the phones at UT to call committed recruits, offering them scholarships to USC before the deal to head to Southern Cal was even finished.

And so goes Lane Kiffin’s roller-coaster career. The youngest coach in major college football just got handed the keys to one of the nation’s premiere football programs, with his resume’s main bullet points being:

* Fired after 20 game and being called a “flat-out liar” by Raiders owner Al Davis.

* Committing six NCAA violations while going 7-6 in one season at Tennessee.

* Father is best friends with Pete Carroll.

Word began spreading at the AFCA Convention after Kiffin was seen huddling with his agents after sprinting out of an SEC meeting. A few short hours later, Kiffin’s contract with Southern Cal was complete. His hasty departure was met by widespread outrage in Knoxville, where students burned mattresses and swarmed the athletic department’s building, hoping to block Kiffin’s departure from campus. They also took to “The Rock,” a famed boulder on campus where students paint messages, filling it with disparaging comments and vulgar expletives as a sendoff to their departing coach.

Kiffin will be announced as the new head coach at a press conference tomorrow at Heritage Hall, introduced by athletic director Mike Garrett, along with his father and defensive coordinator, legendary NFL coach Monty Kiffin, and defensive line coach, recruiting dynamo Ed Orgeron. It’s been reported that the trio will be joined by current UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow, which would be the closest replica to the Trojans glory days as possible.

The hiring might be the best tonic to relieve Trojans’ fans worries and to stop the short-term bleeding that came with Pete Carroll’s surprising decision to go to the NFL less than a month before National Signing Day. Predictably, players were ecstatic about the news of Kiffin’s return to Southern Cal.

“It’s great news,” starting quarterback Matt Barkley said. “I remember meeting Kiff way back on the recruiting trail when I was a freshman.”

“This is really good,” running back Mark Tyler said. “I talked to him and Sark all the time when I was coming in. This is really good.”

Recruits will see coaches familiar with the inner-workings of theTrojan dynasty, hand-picked by Carroll as his protege when he came toUSC in 2001. Kiffin’s staff — led by the hard-charging Orgeron — will put a full court press on the fourteen committed recruits, and likely will gun just as hard after many of the top-flight recruits that Tennessee already has committed.

While the short-term might have everybody happy, the Trojans find themselves with a coach long on bluster and short on results. If the goal of hiring a Carroll disciple was the goal, then the search party found what they wanted. But make no mistake, a Beatles cover band isn’t the Beatles.

Kiffin may be good enough to save a recruiting staff, but eventually he’ll have to live up to the standard Pete Carroll set. Even worse, the decision to hire Kiffin is a slap in the face of the NCAA, an organization that finally weaved its way through four-years of roadblocks and wrong-turns on its quest to get to the truth behind USC’s sporting empire. Will the NCAA look at Kiffin’s hiring — the most rogue coach in college football — as a big F you?

We already know that Mike Garrett missed on his first targets — Mike Riley, Jack Del Rio, and probably a few others. The first time that happened, it netted him NFL castoff Pete Carroll and nine years of college football supremacy. Now he’s hoping to re-engineer those results, hoping Carroll’s former assistants will reach the same heights as their former leader.

While the decision might have been the perfect one to weather the current recruiting storm, it’s also spitting in the face of the organization that controls USC’s ability to survive. While the hiring of Kiffin and company might end up winning the Trojans the first Wednesday in February, they might have sealed their fate with the NCAA. 

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Respond to “Kiffin short-term fix, long-term danger for Trojans”
  1. GoSpursGo says: Jan 13, 2010 1:35 AM

    First Notre Dame makes a desperate choice, now USC trumps it with a stupid choice. Are they following the same hiring rules as AIG and Merril Lynch or what? Amazing that people can become an Athletic Director or a major, storied athletic department when they are truly this stupid! Prediction, Kiffin lasts 3 years, Kelly 4.

  2. Huskersrule says: Jan 13, 2010 1:37 AM

    The perfect ending to this story is USC gettng the death penalty next month, however they will probably just get 3 years probation and lose some scholarships.

  3. qualityshows says: Jan 13, 2010 1:39 AM

    Interesting title for the article. Are you suggesting USC needs an “Intervention”? Are you there NCAA?

  4. stnmmc says: Jan 13, 2010 1:53 AM

    So, a school on the verge of NCAA sanctions hires a coach with 6(or is it 7) NCAA violations in one year.
    Makes sense to me.

  5. ballergac22 says: Jan 13, 2010 2:50 AM

    What’s really exciting is Norm Chow returning to USC.. and Monte Kiffen as dc.. wow.. Lane is a young, very energetic coach.. just wat USC needs to pull in the top flight recruits.. and yes at the end of the day it comes down to wins, losses and championships and yes he probably should’ve stayed at Tennessee, but how could he pass up this dream job I’m surely this is to him.

  6. raiderpete says: Jan 13, 2010 3:30 AM

    I agree, but I don’t care about their fate with the NCAA. The NCAA knows that USC is too important to football, particularly in LA-they are almost untouchable.
    The one thing USC fans will learn is that Lame is selfish, dishonest, and a liar. He essentially got himself fired from the Raiders and totally used UT. The PAC-10 is more competitive now then it was, Lame will either not produce or quit within 2 years. You can’t trust this shady guy.

  7. spikejonez1 says: Jan 13, 2010 4:56 AM

    The NCAA and USC are in a symbiotic relationship. There’s no harsh sanction coming down on USC for one simple reason: the football destiny of the PAC-10 cannot lie exclusively in the bustling metropolis of Eugene, OR. As many have observed, USC is the Los Angeles pro football team.
    For better or for worse, the NCAA is an entity designed to help generate revenue for member schools. The second largest media market in our nation is prime territory. If USC were to receive even one year of a post-season ban, what would ratings for the entire PAC-10 look like? I mean, it’s not like UCLA without Norm Chow will be ANY good, right? While a rabid fan base, the Ducks don’t generate the kind of advertising revenue that even a mediocre USC (8 win) squad can help generate.
    With gurus like Chow and Kiffin running the show on O and D respectively, USC is two seasons away from playing in the BCS Championship. With attack dog Ed Orgeron clamping down on recruits far and wide, USC will return to prominence. It may take one buffer year between Carroll and Kiffin. It may not take any time at all. But, USC is coming.
    As for the students and fans of U. Tennessee who are angry at Kiffin, I ask: if Kiffin were not a fantastic recruiter; if Kiffin did not get them bowl eligible the season after losing to Wyoming — at home; if Kiffin were only mediocre, wouldn’t you be acting bat-shit crazy to get him out of there, even though he has a contract? Of course you would be doing that! Money/the ability to secure more wins is the only currency in college football. Kiffin believes his best bet is in LA at USC.
    He’s dead right. Good night, Tennessee. You’re about to get cracked by Oregon and UF back-to-back in about nine months. Hopefully, that open date you have at the beginning of the year will be against Middle Tennessee State instead of someone respectable. 0-3 to begin the year may spell doom for the next coach….

  8. RichattheLake says: Jan 13, 2010 5:00 AM

    I fail to see what is so great about Lane Kiffin. I know Tennessee is pissed about being abandoned, but in the long run, getting this guy to leave without having to buy him out might be a good thing. I hate the way this affects the players. How does anyone believe this punk? Good ridance!

  9. gator_prof says: Jan 13, 2010 6:22 AM

    Nice analysis…
    It will be interesting to see how the following plays out.
    1) If Brice is accurate about Oregon using UT phones to recruit for USC, UT will certainly request that the NCAA investigate. As you said, for a program already in trouble with the NCAA, hiring Kiffy is basically giving them the middle finger.
    2) Chow as basically forced out to make way for Kiffy. I don’t know what their relationship is or if Chow would even want to come back. If he gets Chow back, that would be huge.
    3) I wonder how this will impact the recruiting trial. It has to give kids some pause that he could switch hats so quickly. I am sure that his competitors will be bringing up the fact this guy has no record of success and switches jobs more often than he changes his underwear.
    4) I can’t wait to hear Spurrier, Saban, Meyer, etc. comment on this… Ol’ Mikey can’t even fine them for hammering Kiffy verbally since he isn’t a SEC coach anymore. For that matter, I wonder what Mikey will say.

  10. ochentacinco says: Jan 13, 2010 6:57 AM

    So much for the Vols dynasty, but why would anyone follow this rat down the next rat hole?

  11. Florida727 says: Jan 13, 2010 7:23 AM

    The NCAA is going to crucify USC. Kiffin shot off his mouth when he came to the SEC, and then couldn’t back it up. It’ll be interesting to see his press conference at USC and see what trash comes out of his pie hole. The guy has accomplished, literally, NOTHING in his entire career, except be the son of a great defensive coach. Why does this guy get so much attention in the first place?

  12. skinny pigeon says: Jan 13, 2010 7:46 AM

    Kiffin, who sucks, knew he had no chance of being a winner in the SEC. He has proven now that he is as big of a scum bag as Bobby Petrino, but not as good of a coach.
    Great line “But make no mistake, a Beatles cover band isn’t the Beatles.” but that’s giving Pete Carroll more than he deserves to compare him to the Beatles. Gary Lewis and The Playboys maybe….

  13. Hong Kong Phooey says: Jan 13, 2010 8:38 AM

    Excellent post Keith. I think this hurts USC with the NCAA. Hell, Kiffin’s staff may have already committed violations by contacting athletes that were already on campus.
    I hope the NCAA comes down hard on USC.

  14. Seeryer says: Jan 13, 2010 9:05 AM

    “Rocky Top you’ll always be home sweet home to…. never mind, USC wants me, I’m out of Hillbilly Hoollywood and headed to the real thing.”
    -Lane Kiffin about 14 hours ago.

  15. mtm1930 says: Jan 13, 2010 9:09 AM

    Fitting that USC had the biggest dirt ball coach in the country leave, and then quickly replaced him with the second biggest dirt ball coach in the country. They will be under NCAA sanctions faster than you can spell Hummer.

  16. UKWildcats2005 says: Jan 13, 2010 9:38 AM

    Keith,
    While I completely agree with you about Kiffin not being a great X’s and O’s coach Carroll was not either (hence why i believe he will fail in the NFL again). They however are both outstanding recruiters (convincing kids to come to southern cal shouldn’t be very hard anyway). In reality if you can recruit that level of talent then you will be successful in college football especially w/o a playoff system that would expose weaknesses in coaching that you can mask by playing one or two tough games spread out over a twelve game season.

  17. xacvol says: Jan 13, 2010 9:55 AM

    I tell you what, USC sure does have a classy president and athletic director…what a f-in joke.

  18. rlmprez says: Jan 13, 2010 9:58 AM

    UT will recover from the Kiffin “Era.” USC will suffer for years to come. It is my hope that the NCAA hammers USC as a result of the current violations in football and basketball. It is a rogue institution and its athletic program is led by a rogue. Perhaps USC is the next SMU. One can only hope.

  19. JimmyY says: Jan 13, 2010 10:27 AM

    Sorry do not agree at all with your assessment. Short on results due to one year as a college head coach (Oakland, please, NFL and Al Davis, get over it) trying to turn around a program. Plus the fact there could be coming penalties due to violations in the Carroll era, NO ONE would have been able to live up to the legacy Carroll had. Boo Hoo to Tennessee, get over it, that’s what happens in the big leagues. Besides, they can go get Mike Leach, an established gun for hire and probably get quicker results than under Kiffen. Don’t give me that crap about the recruits he had at Tennessee either, kids today are working to get to the NFL no matter who the coach is, their parents included should know that. Kiffen is simply taking advantage of the offer to get back to his roots, nothing negative about that. Tennessee – SoCal, gee, decisions, decisions? 70-75 degrees in early January, case closed.

  20. Todd says: Jan 13, 2010 10:36 AM

    USC better hope they never have to play TN anytime soon. That could be an ugly game. Although personally, I would love to see that game.

  21. ocgunslinger says: Jan 13, 2010 10:57 AM

    Jimmy Y……you have hit the nail right on the head. I think most of these negative posts are due to the fact that USC has dominated this past decade. Get over it people as USC is going to continue to be a factor and with three or four other schools dominate college football as in the past.

  22. brasho says: Jan 13, 2010 11:03 AM

    Kiffin is a God… that’s Monte (not Monty, get it right!) Kiffin. Lane’s a freaking idiot that got most of his coaching talent from mom and his common sense from the family dog.

  23. RichieBugs83 says: Jan 13, 2010 11:21 AM

    Kiffin is a young coach with the right pedigree to succeed. He’s also a snake that brings his 6+ NCAA violations to a school that is about to be sanctioned. Too funny. At the very least it should be interesting.

  24. stnmmc says: Jan 13, 2010 11:56 AM

    # raiderpete says: January 13, 2010 3:30 AM ET
    I agree, but I don’t care about their fate with the NCAA. The NCAA knows that USC is too important to football, particularly in LA-they are almost untouchable.
    The one thing USC fans will learn is that Lame is selfish, dishonest, and a liar. He essentially got himself fired from the Raiders and totally used UT. The PAC-10 is more competitive now then it was, Lame will either not produce or quit within 2 years. You can’t trust this shady guy.
    —————————————————–
    Football did just fine in the 90′s when USC was shit. It will live on. If they are not punished by the NCAA then that organization is more crooked than the US government, and I for one, would be done with college football.

  25. btj54 says: Jan 13, 2010 12:14 PM

    Funny how an SEC school can “poach a coach” from one of the little guys and it’s a great hire – but when someone returns the favor they want an NCAA investigation and try to burn the school down in protest. Turnabouts fair play.

  26. gator_prof says: Jan 13, 2010 12:26 PM

    USC has NOT dominated nationally over the past decade. In fact, they have been in a steady decline since Chow left.
    They only won a single title, yes ONE. The last time I checked, 4 different SEC teams could make that claim in the last decade or so, with two teams claiming a 2 titles. The AP split doesn’t matter and is a product of media love. The BCS is the ONLY title.
    Great recruiter + insanely strong SEC = Ron Zook
    Great recruiter + piss poor weak Pac 12 = Pete Carroll
    USC will get smacked by the NCAA and continue its decline under Kiffy.

  27. techvet says: Jan 13, 2010 12:55 PM

    Last night, Chow said it would take “NFL-type” money to get him to leave UCLA.
    Garrett is betting it all on a young horse.

  28. michael says: Jan 13, 2010 1:21 PM

    Well last I checked USC had more 5* guys than anyone and finished out of the top 20. That’s doing less with more. Kiffen is a poor coach. Great recruiter but then USC recruits itself. the problem with Lane is the way he recruits. Pays players and on and on. He doesn’t care about rules or integrity.
    If you question Lanes coaching ability you need to look no further than the AD who went through 2 candidates first and would only take Kiffen if he brought his dad and Orgeron with him. My feeling is he isnt getting a long term contract. One to save a couple recruiting years then dump him if necessary when you have time to get the coach you want.
    At any rate USC is not getting disciplined. This isn’t about college kids or a game, its about money. Smaller schools get blasted hard. Big ones have to do alot to get touched at all and these guys know it. It’s a shame because the lack of backbone in the NCAA will turn this game into the next World Wrestling Federation. What they don’t realize is that the Oregons can be well followed. People want winning and competition. It doesn’t have to come from L.A. But worst of all, we don’t like dishonesty, cheating and favoritism.
    The future of college football is on you NCAA. Let’s see if your man enough to step up to the plate and bring respect back to this game.

  29. gator_prof says: Jan 14, 2010 9:43 AM

    This is a complete and total joke for USC. USC fans, do your HW and see if you are happy with the following facts:
    1) Your AD was “intrigued” because Kiffy came with Ed and Monty. Even the package deal didn’t make their top 3 choices. Imagine what Kiffy alone would rank in terms of desirability.
    2) Monty is 70 and likely won’t be coaching forever.
    3) Go ahead and do some digging on Classy Ed Oregon. You will find that he quickly wears out his welcome and is a walking NCAA violation. Ask Ole Miss fans of what they thought about him. My guess is that he was behind the UT HO-stess scam.
    4) USC thoroughly reviewed Kiffy’s NCAA violations (in what a couple of hours?) and felt comfortable?
    UT got what they deserved by hiring this clown and his posse. They were desperate and made a mistake. USC got to witness this mistake in real time and ended up bringing it west.
    UT fans…congrats. Your program will be better in the long run.
    USC fans…congrats, you get what you deserve. It will be fun to watch your program return to obscurity.

  30. drew says: Jan 17, 2010 9:59 PM

    Whose your daddy? Lame Kiffen has won 12 football games in his career. Any university who would hire this loser gets what they deserve. I do feel bad for the students who understand how difficult this impacts recruting.

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