Thursday, January 14, 2010

USC Finds Their Fall Guy in Lane Kiffin

The USC Trojans, arguably the top NCAA football program in the United States, ended their quest for a new head coach by signing Lane Kiffin away from the Tennessee Volunteers.

The USC job will be Kiffin’s second in the past the two years after he left the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and was signed by Tennessee to turn around a storied SEC program that had fallen on hard times. Oh, wait, did I write that Kiffin had “left” Oakland? My apologies.

Kiffin didn’t leave Oakland. Al Davis, the Oakland Raiders’ walking zombie of an owner who sometimes appears to make decisions by consulting a magic eight ball, fired Kiffin. According to Davis, Kiffin is a “liar”. That statement isn’t alarming until one realizes that Al Davis is probably the most forgiving man on the planet.

For instance, Davis’s current coach, the man who could be “King of the Truck Drivers” if he didn’t coach the Oakland Raiders, Tom Cable, punched out one of Davis’s assistants in the locker room. Did Cable get fired? Nope. In fact, Davis is still “evaluating” Cable’s performance this past regular season.

But Kiffin? Kiffin is a horrible human being according to Davis. And, yet, there he was, with Daddy Monte, his venerable father who helped create the famed Cover 2 defense that almost every NFL team uses to keep opposing quarterbacks from going wild, espousing the awesomeness of USC on television.

How thoughtful. And, ‘Bama Nation wants to thank you, Lane, for sticking it to the Volunteers. Oh, LSU, Florida and Ole Miss give their regards as well.

What the hell, Kiffin? Seriously? After one season in Tennessee, you’re bolting?

Of course, that’s not the biggest question. The biggest question is why in the world would USC athletic director Mike Garrett hire Kiffin in the first place. The only thing I can think of is that coaches like North Carolina’s Butch Davis and Pittsburgh’s Dave Wannstedt turned down Garrett.

Both guys, in my opinion, would have been a better fit for a program that almost assuredly is going to suffer through some NCAA sanctions starting next season. Which brings up another point…what exactly is Kiffin expected to do in L.A.?

Kiffin can’t possibly be expected to win, can he? After all, Pete Carroll, who made the right decision by bailing on the program for money and potential glory with the Seattle Seahawks, failed to motivate a team loaded with talent, will Kiffin?

USC’s glory days appeared to be behind them as it was and Pete Carroll was coaching them. Now, they have Lane Kiffin who failed with the Oakland Raiders and didn’t have enough guts or integrity to at least give it a go in Tennessee.

Now Kiffin takes over a program that could be in dire straits because of NCAA violations. Not only that, but California, Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford all have football programs that can compete with USC now. UCLA and Arizona appear to programs that are rising.

Notre Dame gets Brian Kelly and USC gets…Lane Kiffin?

A small argument can be made that Kiffin will surround himself with top assistants and that those assistants, like his father Monte and their buddy Ed Orgeron, will help him lead USC back to the BCS Championship Game, but that’s a tough argument to make because Orgeron’s success occurred a while ago and Monte Kiffin’s success has been in the NFL.

It’s more likely that Lane Kiffin will end up like Charlie Weiss, the former Notre Dame coach, who just couldn’t build a college program that could compete year in and year out.

Wait, I just thought of the real reason Kiffin is USC’s new coach. Athletic Director Mike Garrett needed a scapegoat now that Carroll bolted for the NFL. Can anybody think of a better one than Lane Kiffin?

I certainly can’t. Good job, Lane. Take the money for a while. Garrett won’t care. You just decided to sign on to a program going down the tubes that needed a scapegoat.

Well, you’re it. Hey, Lane, you just put the nail in your own coffin because after USC becomes the fifth best team in the Pac 10, you won’t be able to get another head coaching job in the college ranks or NFL probably ever again.

But at least you’re getting paid and you do get to work with Daddy Monte for another year. Hey, that’s something.