Widely accepted as the best coach in Trojan history, Pete Carroll is long gone and removed from USC football, but his legacy will live forever. That being said, it is Lane Kiffin at the head of things now, and he's not doing too bad a job considering everything he's dealt with since moving into Heritage Hall.
He's been through it all in a short amount of time, including the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, and is now poised for a great season with his senior standouts returning on both sides of the ball. We've heard all of the great USC comparisons by now haven't we? Barkley vs. Palmer, McDonald vs. Polamalu, it can get old. However, don't you think it's about time we ask the question, how do Kiffin and Carroll compare?
To say that USC was at the top of the college football world during the peak of the Carroll era from 2003 to 2005 would be an understatement. The Trojans were simply dominant. It was Carroll at the head of all this. He had his teams playing with the perfect blend of excitement, passion and attitude that made the Coliseum the place to be for not only the common Joe, but also celebrities like Snoop Dogg and Denzel Washington. USC, under Carroll, ran California.
On the other side of things is Kiffin, the current coach of a very talented team. Touted as a great recruiter coming in, he has not disappointed. Not only has he continued to bring in talent despite the sanctions, but he has kept the talent wearing cardinal and gold in LA for as long as he can. To be straight forward, Kiffin has operated under the sanctions and consequences thrown upon him due to things that happened during Carroll's reign. However, at the end of the day, that is not what people remember about Pete Carroll.
What USC fans do remember about Carroll is the glory days, the feeling of winning a national title. At his point and time, the Trojans were about as close to a professional college team as any other team has ever been. They were loved, they were feared, they were Trojans.
Now, USC arguably has the potential to put together the best season in Trojan history. The defense is looking good, the offense and special teams are looking great, yet Kiffin still doesn't get the credit he deserves. Let's say USC does win it all this year. Will Kiffin then surpass Carroll? Never. It's impossible.
The feeling that cardinal and gold Carroll gives fans is unsurpassable, and that's the bottom line. This is not to say that Kiffin isn't a great coach, or that Carroll is a better one. They simply have had two very different career paths. They do have their similarities, but they will never share the same love from Trojan fans.