USC fires Lane Kiffin as football coach

After 3-2 start, Lane Kiffin is sent packing. Photo: Lane Kiffin/AP

LOS ANGELES, September 29, 2013 — According to a statement on the University’s website, the University of Southern California has fired its football coach, Lane Kiffin. Pat Haden broke the news to Kiffin when the team returned to Los Angeles after getting blown out by Arizona State. The school will hold a press conference on Sunday.

The Trojans have a bye next week and then a Thursday game, which gives them ten days before they play again. There is no word yet on who Kiffin’s replacement will be.

The obvious choice, at least in the interim, would be Ed Orgeron, who is currently USC’s defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. Orgeron does have three years of experience as a head coach, albeit with a losing record. He was 10-25 as head coach of Ole’ Miss.

For the long term, perhaps USC goes after former Cal coach, Jeff Tedford, or Chris Petersen from Boise State. Jeff Tedford was a guest at a USC practice along with former coach John Robinson a few weeks ago. Other possibilities could be Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M and James Franklin from Vanderbuilt.

Lane Kiffin, in the middle of his fourth season as head coach at USC, compiled a 28-15 record, including a 3-2 start this year. The Trojans also lost five of their last six games to close out the season last year. Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron are largely responsible for keeping the Trojans afloat while navigating through the harshest NCAA punishments in recent history.

Most teams are irrelevant while on sanctions, but Kiffin and Orgeron kept the Trojans competitive and, at times, as impressive as a National Championship caliber team.

Bad press seemed to follow Lane Kiffin everywhere he went after he left USC to be the head coach of the Raiders in 2007. It seemed as though instead of fans rooting for Kiffin’s success, they seemed to feed off his mistakes.

Kiffin had a 5-15 record with the Raiders when he was fired four games into the 2008 season. There was an ugly dispute in the media between Kiffin and the late Al Davis.

After the Oakland gig fell apart, Lane Kiffin landed a head coaching job at the University of Tennessee, where he brought back Ed Orgeron. At Tennessee, Kiffin claimed to be there for the long haul, he even named his son, Knox.  

Kiffin immediately started making enemies among the other SEC schools and coaches. The NCAA even started looking at Kiffin’s questionable use of females hosting recruits on campus.

None of the negative press seemed to bother Kiffin, however. He always stayed on his own path and did whatever he wanted. His arrogance definitely did not gain him any supporters.

Controversy again followed Kiffin when he took the job at USC. Kiffin was still under contract with Tennessee. In fact, he completed just one season at Tennessee before leaving for USC.

Students at Tennessee were livid and held a protest when he left.

All of the great recruiting done by Kiffin at USC was always dogged by poor coaching decisions and bad play calling. Kiffin was able to surround himself with great coaches and players, but he was ultimately unable to escape from himself.

Lane Kiffin’s downfall was that he believed too much in himself. He could not let go of the power that came with running the high-powered USC offense. USC’s offenses had so many weapons, it seemed impossible to call the wrong play, but Kiffin did.

It is tough to say what will become of Kiffin at this point. One would think that he has exhausted all of his head coaching and offensive coordinator opportunities, at least at this level. Kiffin is a solid recruiter and would be an asset to any school serving in that capacity.

Kevin J. Wells is the Sports Editor for The Washington Times Communities and also writes about Major League Baseball and punk rock music. Follow him on Twitter @WellsOnBaseball


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Kevin J Wells

Kevin J. Wells was born and raised in the Los Angeles area in a town called Montrose.  He currently plays guitar for and is a founding member of the Los Angeles punk rock band Emmer Effer.  He has worked in a number of different career fields including Behavioral Therapy, Commodities, Insurance, and most recently a food cart in Portland, OR. Kevin has been both a sports and entertainment columnist and editor for The Washington Times Communities since January 2013.

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