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Haden: ‘no reason Lane Kiffin shouldn’t be our coach’

Notre Dame v USC Getty Images

If USC had just lived up to expectations in 2012, issues such as deflated footballs and uniform number swaps and the coaches’ poll imbroglio and media brouhahas would’ve been minor hassles on the way to bigger and better things.

The Trojans didn’t, and those issues were magnified in a six-loss season that culminated with an embarrassing performance in — and after — the Sun Bowl.  It was the worst finish ever for a preseason No. 1, with seemingly everyone calling for the boot to be applied to head coach Lane Kiffin‘s backside.

Everyone, that is, except for athletic director Pat Haden, who very publicly proclaimed back in late November he is “150-percent” behind the embattled coach.  Two months later, Haden’s stance hasn’t shifted much if at all.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Los Angeles Times, Haden once again stood firmly behind Kiffin as USC’s coach, although he jokingly allowed that his support might have dipped into the “137.5 percent” range.

“I understand people disagree with me,” Haden said of his continued support for the coach. “But in my judgment, and I get paid to make the best decisions I can for USC, there’s no reason that Lane Kiffin shouldn’t be our coach. …

“These are things that all can be fixed. And they all can be fixed by Lane Kiffin.”

One of those fixes was “parting ways” with Kiffin’s father, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, at season’s end.  Thus far, though, Kiffin is holding onto his beloved offensive play-calling duties, a source of criticism that Haden acknowledges and hints could be hampering the team as a whole even as its considered by the AD to be one of Kiffin’s strengths.

“Sometimes when you’re calling plays… you don’t sense maybe the whole team,” Haden explained. “So I think he has to really sense the whole team and feel and have the relationship with the whole team.”

As for Kiffin’s future with the program, Haden gave a curt “I’m not answering that question” when asked what it would take for the coach to keep his job.  Suffice to say, it’ll take more than a seven-win season to keep the critics at bay.  It also wouldn’t hurt Kiffin if the off-field issues slowed to a trickle in the coming months, although even Haden knows that may be easier said than done given the reputation his coach earned over the past several years.

“His reputation, it’s going to be really hard to sanitize that over time unless he kind of wins a lot of games and does things right, which we plan to do,” Haden said.

“He’s anti-Teflon. I mean, stuff sticks to him that doesn’t even belong on him.”

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29 Responses to “Haden: ‘no reason Lane Kiffin shouldn’t be our coach’”
  1. canetic says: Jan 22, 2013 12:40 PM

    Here’s a reason — your supposed championship caliber team lost SIX games this season. How’d that happen?

  2. timh1955 says: Jan 22, 2013 12:53 PM

    Kiffin AND Haden need to go! Kiffin has destroyed every team he has ever been associated with!

  3. kozbee says: Jan 22, 2013 1:05 PM

    Folks should be looking toward Haden as they look at Kiffin imo tie their azzes together and kick them both out the door.Only then will Southern Cal get the rankings they deserve.JMO..

  4. jimbo75025 says: Jan 22, 2013 1:14 PM

    kozbee says:
    Jan 22, 2013 1:05 PM
    Only then will Southern Cal get the rankings they deserve.JMO..

    USC continues to employ Kiffin so they are getting the ranking they rightfully deserve (none). The hubris of that hire in the first place while already in NCAA trouble is just mind numbing.

  5. bucrightoff says: Jan 22, 2013 1:28 PM

    Here’s one reason: He’s a scumbag loser who’s never won anything and who’s only appreciable skill is his snake oil selling abilities. USC will get the death penalty if Lane stays there an extended period.

  6. floridacock says: Jan 22, 2013 1:47 PM

    They really, really should keep him say the rest of the Pac 12

  7. cometkazie says: Jan 22, 2013 2:37 PM

    Consider the source, who is part of the problem.

  8. florida727 says: Jan 22, 2013 2:45 PM

    Open Letter to USC:

    Thank you for hiring, and retaining, Lane Kiffin.


    The Southeastern Conference

  9. xtremesportsmaniac says: Jan 22, 2013 2:46 PM

    I pray he gives up the play calling he was horrible this year.

  10. dmvtransplant says: Jan 22, 2013 3:13 PM

    Simple math for everybody in terms of football reality:

    Haden = Jerry Jones

  11. malibudave66 says: Jan 22, 2013 3:24 PM

    Pat Haden is a great AD but would hope he would rethink his stance on Lane. Lane in my opinion is a OC at best he Killed the Raiders and really screwed the U of Tennessee and all those kids down there! If I was in Pats shoes theres a man named John Gruden that would recruit and be the next Pete Carroll for USC. Good Luck Pat!!!!

  12. be4bama says: Jan 22, 2013 3:24 PM

    Amen Florida727……who cares where he coaches as long as its NOT in the SEC.

  13. canehouse says: Jan 22, 2013 3:42 PM

    Lane Kiffin is a mess….how did USC lose to Ga. Tech?

  14. dawglb says: Jan 22, 2013 4:24 PM

    Kiffin is as shady as they get…. Deflating footballs, changing jersey numbers at halftime, ……. He is an embarrassment to a fine institution. (Not that Pete Carroll wasn’t a shady cat, too)

  15. be4bama says: Jan 22, 2013 4:28 PM

    Dawg I’d say Kiffin=Carroll.

  16. huskylawyer says: Jan 22, 2013 4:46 PM

    Somewhere on a tropical island in the South Pacific, former USC AD Mike Garrett is laughing….

  17. gfj7000 says: Jan 22, 2013 5:05 PM

    Part of the problem was Reggie Bush in leaving USC in a ‘dust bowl’ waiting to see what the team really looked like – then after sanctions were lifted – it was Daddy Monte – showing off his defensive coaching skills (couldn’t make it in the new century) – DEFENSE barely made the NCAA Top 100 lst for points allowed. Then Barkley was injured, and good ole’ Lane gave the ball to Lee 110% of the time and Woods – a minus 20% of the time. That’s your story. Yes, if Lane would stop making ‘offensive coordinator’ calls, hire a good defensive coordinator – then they could come back to maybe 8-5 this year.

  18. mogogo1 says: Jan 22, 2013 5:47 PM

    My hope remains that Haden is just so classy and smooth that he’ll appear to back Kiffin right up until the moment somebody better is announced as the new coach.

    And it’s enlightening that old man Monte was getting calls from NFL teams 5 minutes after he was pushed out at USC. Obviously the NFL believed that USC’s troubles were the son’s fault and not the father’s.

  19. skinsfan2 says: Jan 22, 2013 5:56 PM

    As someone who can’t stand USC, or Kiffen, this is excellent news.

  20. Deb says: Jan 22, 2013 6:43 PM

    Okay … I’ll play Devil’s Advocate.

    Pat’s right. No, I’m not a fan of Little Lanie Kiffin. But … he did a surprisingly good job with the Trojans in 2011. Good enough for them to get the preseason #1 ranking for 2012 (no matter how misguided). And since when is a coach fired for one mediocre season? If that were anyone other than Lane Kiffen, would SC fans expect Haden to fire him based solely on this year’s results? No.

    Pat’s right to give him another year. And if he’s going to give him another year, he’s right not to talk as though Kiffen will be roasting over a flame every second of it. You want your coach to be thinking about the team, not worrying about his job. Still … if there’s no improvement next season, I’m sure Haden will rethink.

  21. billmead1976 says: Jan 22, 2013 6:46 PM

    Keep your friends close. Keep your enemies closer.

    Haden is a closet Notre Dame fan – in fact, his mom wanted him to go to Notre Dame.

    Notice no other coaches comment on USC? Keep the sleeping giant ASLEEP.

    USC football is dead until Haden and Kiffin are there. The rest of College Football is smug.

  22. jintzforever says: Jan 22, 2013 7:14 PM

    Dear Pat,

    Keep him, and allow him to continue his inept play calling.


    The Oregon Ducks and the rest of the PAC-12

  23. vincentbojackson says: Jan 22, 2013 7:38 PM

    Once again supporting my belief that Kiffin has dirt on all of his current a former employers.

    How else do you explain Kiffin continuing to get jobs after leaving every program he’s lead in the dumpster?

  24. soundsofsuccess7 says: Jan 22, 2013 7:40 PM

    Duckfan– if you don’t remember, Lane’s Trojans put up a 63 spot on the Duckies.

    Monte’s out and wad the problem.

  25. gatorprof says: Jan 22, 2013 8:21 PM

    Kiffy can recruit incredibly well, but is not a good coach. Think Ron Zook, but worse because he is also an incredible a__h__e.

    He went shopping and bought some nice groceries, but the meal tastes like crap because he is a lousy chef.

  26. addict2sport says: Jan 23, 2013 10:13 AM

    “-then the sanctions were lifted-” People think because the bowl ban is over, the sanctions are over. USC continues to face scholarship limitations which will hurt the program for years to come. The scholarship restrictions will have a more significant detrimental effect than the bowl ban could ever have. It’s amazing how many people don’t understand that.

  27. gatorprof says: Jan 23, 2013 12:34 PM


    Re:”It’s amazing how many people don’t understand that.”

    The penalties aren’t adversely affecting his ability to attract and field top talent. That is a FACT, period, end of story. Kiffy had top five classes in 2010 and 2011. No doubt that there was talent on that team. What about the preseason all americans going into 2012? There was a reason that they were preseason #1 going into last season.

    You will have to explain to me how the NCAA sanctions and not his piss poor coaching contributed to last year’s debacle.

    I really want to understand how a team stocked with talent can suck and it not be the coach’s fault.

  28. be4bama says: Jan 23, 2013 12:41 PM

    Gator you hit the nail right on the head.

  29. rogmon75 says: Jan 23, 2013 7:23 PM

    addict2sport is correct gatorprof:
    I am not a Lane Kiffin fan but my goodness…people want to blame him for everything wrong in the world. The fact is he took a Tennessee team that had a losing record the year before and went 7-6..Then he went to USC as they were handed down the worst sanctions (that’s a whole other story) since SMU and kept the team together and went 8-5 then 10-2. Anyone who is football savvy knew that the 2012 team was not going to be national champs…I thought they would finish at 10-2 again, but no matter how high your recruiting class is, the fact is USC has no depth at the most import areas…Offensive and defensive lines. The sanctions will make it even harder now. 15 scholarships a year for three years means that 30 kids that would have been Trojans are not only missing but at other schools (UCLA, Oregon, Notre Dame..etc) competing against USC! Monte was a disaster and he’s gone. This will be the ultimate test for Kiffin…Can he win with less scholarship players than everyone else? If not he’ll be gone, fair or not.

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