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USC Football: Why Lane Kiffin Is No Better Than Derek Dooley

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  USC Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin looks on against the Colorado Buffaloes at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIINovember 18, 2012

In one of the most shocking outcomes of the 2012-13 college football season, UCLA upset arch-rival USC 38-28 on Saturday. As a result, USC dropped to 7-4 and proved one important fact about its head coach.

Lane Kiffin is no better than Derek Dooley.

For those unfamiliar with Dooley's work, he spent the past three seasons as the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers. Coincidentally, he succeeded Kiffin, who left Tennessee after one season to take over at USC, where he had served as an assistant from 2001 to 2006.

According to a report via, the Vols have done the expected and opted to fire Dooley. This comes after he posted three consecutive losing seasons, the longest stretch of futility in the storied program's 121-year history.

Although Kiffin has led USC to three winning seasons, his results have been quite similar.

Much like Dooley, Kiffin has taken a storied program and created an image of virtual mediocrity. Although there are differences in the makeup of each coach, the all-around shortcomings are undeniable.

For that reason, each of the former Tennessee head coaches has proven one important thing. They are too much alike to ignore their similarities.


Conference Inferiority

Much like Dooley's Volunteers, the Lane Kiffin-led Trojans have underwhelmed during conference play. Despite boasting one of the most talented units in the Pac-12, the Trojans have gone just 17-10 in conference play under Kiffin.

Their only notable Pac-12 season was 2011 when they went went 7-2. Unfortunately, USC was ineligible for postseason play.

In 2010 and 2012, the Trojans finished 5-4 in the Pac-12. The four losses each of those seasons show the disparity between where the Trojans are and where they'd hoped to be.

So how did it all go down?


Not Quite Elite

In 2010, USC lost conference games to Stanford, Oregon, Washington and Oregon State. Although the Cardinal and Ducks were highly ranked, those losses signaled that the Trojans were not yet among the elite.

In 2011, they lost a triple-overtime thriller to No. 6 Stanford and won 38-35 at the No. 4 Oregon Ducks. The leap to elite status appeared to have been made.

With Heisman front-runner Matt Barkley at quarterback and elite talent in Marqise Lee and Robert Woods at wide receiver, USC came in ranked No. 1 in 2012. But that could not protect the Trojans, however, as they have lost all three of their games this season against ranked opponents, falling to No. 21 Stanford, No. 4 Oregon and No. 17 UCLA.

If they lose to No. 1 Notre Dame on November 24th, the writing will be on the wall. USC can't compete with the elite.

Until that changes, Kiffin deserves to be on the hot seat.


Upside Is There

If you need to know anything about Kiffin, it's that he has an outstanding football mind. Although his results as a head coach have not always been reflective of such a truth, there is no way around how much upside he possesses.

Unfortunately, potential is meaningless at USC. It's all about results.

At 37, Kiffin certainly has time to grow and eventually prove his worth. This may be what separates him from the 44-year-old Dooley, who is young but removed from the stage in which a program will show him patience.

Although USC expects Kiffin to win now, there is reason to believe in his future. The question is, can the Trojans afford to wait?

To put it simply, the answer is no. But if USC decides to stick with him, don't be shocked to see Kiffin bring multiple national championships its way.

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