Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
Lane Kiffin is 1-3 against teams with winning records
Lane Kiffin is a talented coach, raised by one of the most brilliant football minds in football history.
But Lane’s antics have historically displayed an immaturity that demonstrates he is not yet ready to take his place as an elite coach.
He is a project, still in its developmental phase. The maturation process takes time. And time is not on Lane’s side.
Expectations are great at USC.
The Trojan faithful, tortured with mediocrity during the '90s, took a hit of greatness at the turn of the century. They are now addicted to the "win now" drug.
Rose Bowls are recurrent, BCS championships are preferred, anything less is unacceptable.
In some ways, Lane is beyond his years.
Kiffin’s history as SC’s offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator under Pete Carroll demonstrated his ability to hang crooked numbers on a scoreboard and bring in top talent.
More recently, Lane is to be commended for his plan to counter the loss of scholarships that currently handicap the Trojans’ depth.
In other ways, he still has much to learn.
Lane is still an offensive coordinator wearing a head coach’s visor.
His play calling has been under fire since his arrival in 2010. It is a mystery how USC is consistently blessed with some of the best talent in the country, yet they find a way to disappoint.
It seems as though his arrogance prevents him from kicking field goals to put precious points on the board, choosing instead to go for it on 4th down situations, where he has been successful only 50% of the time.
We are still not sure what possessed him to call an end around play with Marquis Lee on 4th and 2 in the loss at Arizona. We won't even mention his directing Barkley to not spike the ball during SC's final failed drive of that same game.
He has been blessed with a Heisman-caliber gun at QB and a full clip of play-makers, yet the offense has been unimaginative and one dimensional.
USC currently ranks 25th in the nation in total offense, and, most disgustingly, 75th in rushing offense.
In addition, Lane appears clueless when it comes to the vital role defense plays in a football game.
With all the talent USC possesses on the defensive side of the ball, there is no excuse for them to go down in history as one of the most porous defenses in USC history.
Rather than take responsibility for the defense's woes, Lane seems to be of the opinion that it is his job to simply outscore everyone. He loses to Oregon 62-51 and states the game, “comes down to three offensive possessions"? Pay no attention to the 62 all-white elephants with reflective helmets stampeding the room.
He has yet to prove that he is capable of winning big games.
Lane is a career 1-4 versus top 10 teams. (That record could be 0-5 if Oregon hadn’t missed a 37 yard field goal to tie the game as time expired in last season’s upset at Autzen. Don’t forget about SC’s collapse as they held a commanding 38-14 lead with time winding down in the 3rd quarter.)
Most importantly, USC’s team is struggling with the little things. The little things always add up to big things. And big things prevent teams from being champions.
This year, headlines include: discussions of SC’s lack of discipline on the field, missed assignments, missed tackles, penalties, turnovers, as well as the ridiculous shenanigans of players changing jersey numbers mid-game, and the latest, “deflate-gate.”
Given experience, time, and a dose of maturity, Lane could develop into one of the game’s elite coaches.
However, at this stage, Lane Kiffin will face constant comparisons to the success of Pete Carroll.
The bar at Southern Cal. has been raised.
His failure to deliver a national title or consistent PAC-12 South titles will bring nothing but disappointment and ultimately his early departure.