USC Athletics broke the news this evening that assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin will resign to pursue NFL opportunities effective after USC’s bowl game.
Kiffin, who of course is Lane’s father, is 72 and considered to be a defensive legend as the architect of the “Tampa 2” defense. Monte was the defensive coordinator at Tampa Bay when it won the 2002 Super Bowl.
In 2009, after 26 years in the NFL, Monte returned to college coaching to follow Lane to Tennessee. He has spent the last three seasons at USC as an assistant under Lane.
Despite Monte’s prolific and storied career, his time at USC has not been successful. Not by a long shot. Monte’s 2012 Trojan defense was one of the worst—if not the worst—USC has ever had in its 124-year football history.
The Trojans finished the season 7-5 after starting as the preseason No. 1. USC became the first school since Ole Miss in 1964 to start the season at the top of the polls and fall completely out of the rankings by the end of the season.
Even worse than the five losses, USC’s opponents gained an average of more than 500 yards against its defense, making 2012 a historically terrible year for the Trojans.
This simply will not do for fans, students, alumni, boosters, donors and the administration of the Trojans. Oh, wait, maybe the administration can live with mediocrity for a year or two, but I don’t think even Pat Haden and his very polite ways (which is NOT a criticism, folks) would allow USC to sink to the depths of the Paul Hackett era.
Fans have been calling for Monte’s head all season. Heck, let’s be honest. Ffans have been calling for Monte’s head for the entirety of his three-year tenure at Troy.
Dubious records were set this season in the game against Oregon. The Ducks ran up the most yards (730), points (62) and touchdowns (nine) ever given up by USC in its entire 124-year football history.
UCLA scored more points against USC than it had in any cross-town rivalry game since 1996. Additionally, Bruin RB Jonathan Franklin’s 171 rushing yards were the most for a Bruin versus the Trojans since 1986.
The question now, of course, is: What will Pat Haden and the Trojans do?
Clearly, USC needs to make a strong and decisive hire. My support is still behind UGA’s Todd Grantham. I’m telling you, he’d bring the necessary chops to USC and the way he has rebuilt the Bulldogs defense over the past few years could be a template on which he could make over the Trojan defense.
Pat Haden needs to set the tone here. A strong hire is needed for the good of the football program, but also to quell the uprising brewing in the Trojan fanbase. Donors and alumni are fickle. If wins aren't produced, money stops coming in. Haden, a USC alumnus himself, understands this.
This will be a very interesting situation to monitor, that is for sure.