USC Football: Why Lane Kiffin Will Go Down as the Trojans' Greatest Coach
When I opened up my e-mail and saw this assignment, my immediate response was to groan.
"Do the editors know anything about USC?" I thought to myself, "How can they think that Kiffin could be better than guys like Howard Jones, John Robinson, Pete Carroll or the great John McKay?"
Frustrated, I left my computer to its own anxiety (it's been acting up lately), and went outside to ponder the ramifications of addressing an assignment that surely had no adequate resolution.
Lane Kiffin, the greatest Trojan coach ever? Puhleeze!
Then something odd happened. All of a sudden, the more I thought about it, the less crazy it sounded and reasons for this notion began to legitimize themselves in startling abundance.
Why couldn't Kiffin wind up the greatest Trojan coach of all time? He certainly could and this slide show will offer many reasons why it could happen.
Whether or not Lane Kiffin has an athletic center named for him in the future remains to be seen and the "greatest" of anything is totally subjective but that said, here is list of things that young Coach Kiffin has going for him on the road to that title.
Kiffin Had Already Established Credibility at USC Before Being Named Head Coach
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For many people (including me), Lane Kiffin had already established a foundation of credibility at USC by serving in a myriad of important functions while working as an assistant coach for Trojan head coaching legend Pete Carroll.
As a position coach, recruiting and offensive coordinator, Kiffin served USC very well in several capacities prior to his appointment as the man to lead the program in 2010.
In doing so, Kiffin learned the nuances of running a successful program and since then, he has honed those capabilities in leading the men of Troy out of one of the darkest eras in its celebrated history.
Kiffin paid his dues for the Trojans in admirably performing some of the less glamorous duties during the salad days of the Carroll regime and it has paid dividends for the program going forward.
And this can only benefit any portfolio when striving for that "greatest ever" moniker.
Kiffin Has Decades to Build His Trojan Legacy
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At the tender age of 37, Lane Kiffin already has two years in as the head guy at Troy.
If he stays with the Trojans until the age of 60 (there is reason to believe he will, as will be explained later), and he averages 10 wins a year (reasonable given that this is USC after all), he will have 248 wins, by far the most in their illustrious history.
Of course, there are many assumptions being made here, including that Kiffin will stay (again, more on that later) and that the university will accept a 10-win average. However, they both appear to be reasonable as far as assumptions go.
In terms of wins and losses, Kiffin can easily go down as the greatest ever.
USC Is Kiffin's "Dream Job"
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When Lane Kiffin left the university of Tennessee after one season, he was vilified by many, but especially those in the SEC, as some kind of traitor.
How those people arrived at the conclusion that Kiffin owed the Volunteers his blind allegiance, even to his own detriment, is something only they could explain, but Kiffin already had his own answer to those critics.
Calling the head coaching position at USC his "dream job," Kiffin did what any reasonable person would do when confronted by such an opportunity.
He took the job.
Now heading into his third year at the helm of the Trojans, Kiffin appears to be very comfortable leading the program at the school he loves.
Unless this job turns into a nightmare, something that will only happen if administration turns on him, expect Kiffin to stay put and build that legacy commented on in the prior slide.
Above All, Kiffin Knows What He Is Doing
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As mentioned in the prior slide, Kiffin is a young coach, but in this case, youth does not translate to inexperience.
Having climbed the ladder of success through his hard work as a position coach, assistant head coach and recruiting and offensive coordinator, he has paid his dues, and along the way, Kiffin has become well versed in all of the capacities required to be successful as the head guy.
Celebrated for his acumen as offensive coordinator during USC's salad days under Pete Carroll, that same genius is highlighting his brief tenure now as the leader of a Trojan program that is firmly back in the spotlight.
Despite some who offer silly conjecture that he has only risen to his status because of who he knows, Kiffin has proven that he has a knowledgeable and savvy football mind and the discipline (and organization) to see his plans through.
Lane Kiffin Is a Master Recruiter
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As any college football fan will tell you, recruiting is the life blood of any successful program.
As such, there are few who can nurture a team with an infusion of prep talent the way Lane Kiffin can.
Take this year for example. Shackled with the NCAA imposed reduction of scholarships, Kiffin and his staff are in the process of delivering a historic class to the Trojans in 2012.
And this is not a one-year phenomenon.
Kiffin has been delivering quality prep talent for years and, with the help of an extremely talented cadre of staff, there is no reason to believe this will end anytime soon.
Kiffin Is Leading the Trojans out of Some of the Darkest Days in Their History
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When he took the USC job, Lane Kiffin did so under some of the most trying of circumstances.
Replacing one of the most popular head coaches in the Trojans' history, and doing this under the specter of looming NCAA sanctions, the circumstances of Kiffin's arrival to USC did not include anything close to the best of conditions.
And despite the lore and legend of Pete Carroll, he did not leave Kiffin with a full cupboard as evidenced by Carroll's disappointing 9-4 final season or Coach Kiffin's 8-4 inaugural campaign.
Then, when those possible sanctions became USC's reality, the young head coach became mired in the gloom and doom of naysayers who immediately predicted the Trojans imminent demise.
To which Kiffin simply laughed and shrugged it off.
Now he is the one who is chuckling as USC, once again, is capturing the national spotlight as a 2012 preseason favorite to win it all.
And to make sure this is not a one-season wonder, Kiffin is laying the foundation for future success by drawing some of the finest prep talent in the nation.
Leading the Trojans out of the mess left for him by those who came before, Kiffin is paving the road for his possible inclusion as the greatest Trojan coach of them all.
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Out of deference to the legendary Trojan head football coaches who went before him, I fully understand that Lane Kiffin has yet to withstand the test of time.
However, given the circumstances handed to Kiffin and the ample time he has to craft his Trojan legacy, the opportunity for him to rise to the level of "all time greatest" is within his capabilities.
Certainly, much can happen between now and whatever time that title would be thrust upon him, and no one can see into the future.
Having said that, is it impossible that Kiffin becomes the face you think of when discussing the greatest coaches in USC history?
No, but only time will tell.