USC Football: Lane Kiffin Is What Is Wrong with the Trojans

Amy LamareSenior Analyst INovember 18, 2012

PASADENA, CA - NOVEMBER 17:  Head coach Lane Kiffin of the USC Trojans on the field before the game against the UCLA Bruins at Rose Bowl on November 17, 2012 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

USC’s latest loss at the hands of crosstown rival UCLA stings particularly hard for Trojan supporters. The loss is made even less palatable by the pathetic play-calling of USC head coach Lane Kiffin.  The loss is made even more heartbreaking by the deterioration of play from (beloved) senior QB Matt Barkley, who likely saw his collegiate career end on Saturday during the fourth quarter when a hard hit took him down and injured his right shoulder.

It is not acceptable.  Without Barkley at QB versus Notre Dame, the Trojan faithful are all but assured four losses in five games to end the 2012 season.

Lane Kiffin must go.

Kiffin’s play-calling has gotten worse and more baffling as the season has progressed. It now appears that the 10-2 2011 season was a fluke.  It now appears that Kiffin’s restraint in the media and in shenanigans in 2011 were a fluke.  This 2012 version of immaturity is what the Trojans are stuck with for the time being.

Please explain to me why Kiffin, on 4th-and-2 and down 17-0, called a play with fullback Jahleel Pinner as the intended target.  Pinner is a freshman who has never caught a pass for the Trojans, and it was raining cats and dogs, making the conditions for an inexperienced receiver less than ideal.

Let’s move on to the third quarter and the nine consecutive pass calls that Kiffin called in the rain when RB Curtis McNeal was running just fine—even with a slight injury.

Or how about that 44-yard field goal attempt on wet grass Kiffin called for Andre Heidari, which he missed?

Is this a play-caller who is ready to be a head coach?  Is there any strategy or logic to Kiffin’s game plans?  It sure doesn’t seem like it.

Make no mistake, every failure of this Trojan team this year, every hope they have not lived up to, every missed tackle and blown coverage all fall squarely on Lane Kiffin’s shoulders.

Also, can we discuss how Kiffin has hurt Barkley’s NFL draft prospects?  Again, the lack of development of Barkley this season can be placed squarely on Kiffin’s ineffectual shoulders.  Has any head coach more apparently and willfully disregarded the development of his players than Kiffin this season?  (THAT is a subject I will explore in the offseason, to be sure.)

Lane Kiffin is a cancer to the Trojan program that cannot be allowed to continue running amok.  Yet on Saturday, USC athletic director Pat Haden confirmed his support for Kiffin (via Mark Saxon of ESPN).

What?!  How can that be, you might be thinking?  Well, consider the following.  How devastating to USC’s recruiting class would the loss of Lane Kiffin be right now?  How much of it could be salvaged  After all, recruiting is considered to be Kiffin’s strength.  (That is debatable—another subject to be explored this postseason.)

The Trojan Nation’s online chatter all revolves around changes that must be made.  USC seems to be stuck with Kiffin, for 2013 at least, so how does it get more palatable?  Well, for one thing, Monte must go.  Also, Lane has to get both an offensive coordinator and an exceptional quarterbacks coach.  These should be mandatory for his continued employment.

Whether Haden has the guts to actually enforce real change or Kiffin has the humility to cop to his weaknesses remains to be seen, but both seem unlikely from where USC’s football season sits right now.

If the Max Wittek-led USC Trojans do not beat the No. 1 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish, USC will have lost four of its last five games.

That is not how things work in Troy.  Greater men and better coaches have been fired for less.  Lane Kiffin is not special, but the circumstances USC finds itself in are.  The NCAA’s draconian sanctions are having their desired effect, but Kiffin’s moronic coaching is not helping matters one bit.