Lane Kiffin Gets The Boot

Get fired once, that is unfortunate. Get fired twice from the same kind of job, well that is maybe a sign to choose a new career. Lane Kiffin, head coach of the USC football team, was fired the morning of Sunday, Sept. 29 after the Trojan lost 62-41 against Arizona State. Prior to coaching at USC, he spent one season at the University of Tennessee and before that, he was the youngest coach in franchise history of the Oakland Raiders. He was fired from coaching the Raiders and just now from USC. What went wrong in his coaching career?

Under his command, the Trojans had lost seven of their past 11 games, including a 3-2 start this season. Both loses were to Pac-12 teams. His overall record at USC was just bad— 28-15. A poor defense and static offense led to the failure of a record. His time at USC is viewed as a disaster as he let one of the most popular and good college football programs go down the drain. He had been under fire since the end of last season when the Trojans fell from being ranked No. 1 to finishing with a 7-6 record.  During his first season at USC he had sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley and freshman receiver Robert Woods who helped the Trojans finish 4-5 overall, but his best season with the Trojans occurred in 2011, when his team finished 10-2. It all went downhill from there.

To be fair, Kiffin did not walk into a good set of circumstances at USC. Some say he was doomed from the start and was a temporary solution to a more serious problem when former athletic director Mike Garrett hired him. Kiffin was previously an assistant to who is now the head coach and vice president of the Seattle Seahwaks, Pete Carroll, when he was head coach at USC. He was hired to bring in more players and save a recruiting class; however, scholarship losses acquired because of NCAA violations (related to former Trojans running back Reggie Bush and included a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years) bled the program dry. USC only took 56 scholarship players to Saturday’s game. The NCAA maximum is 85. Kiffin was working under some rough conditions and did what he could, but it clearly was not working.

With all of that being said… we can still learn from his failures. Don’t become too confident and job hop without pacing yourself and honing your craft. He could have made his youthful mistakes as an assistant coach and program where he was not the head hauncho. Most if not all top coaches have turned down top jobs because they were not ready. Vandy’s James Franklin said no to Arkansas. Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald turned down Michigan three years ago and he is still in Evanston. The coach at Boise, Chris Petersen, gets calls from top programs every year but has yet to leave his post where he is now because he will never get fired. When a coach takes a top job, like head coach of the USC football program, before he is ready or the timing is off, a struggle will certainly follow.  Maybe if Kiffin had stayed at Tennessee longer to build up his coaching skills and years of experience, he would still have a job.

Now the question of the year for the Trojans and Trojan fans—who will take Kiffin’s place? The top choices are Chris Petersen, head coach of Boise state, Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M and Jack Del Rio of the Denver Broncos. Good luck to whoever takes on the task of bringing the Trojans back from the brink of destruction.





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