USC Football: Why Lane Kiffin's Decision to Call Plays Is the Right Move

Rick McMahanSenior Writer IJuly 30, 2013

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

In a decision that is certain to elicit howls of despair from the USC Trojan fanbase, head coach Lane Kiffin has decided to retain his call playing duties for the offense in 2013.

Good for him.

After USC's abysmal 2012 season, which saw a preseason national contender limp home with a 7-6 record, many called for the embattled coach to relinquish the responsibility for the in-game calling of plays because, they contended, he was ineffective and needed to concentrate on the overall management of the team.

However, while they may have a point—to some extent—those people are losing sight of the bigger picture.

You see, USC's problems in 2012 had little to do with the plays Kiffin called. Yes, the Trojans finished only 41st in the nation in total offense but they did average 432 yards per game and were among college football's best with a 6.60 yard per play average.

And while these stats may not wow you, there is another that you should consider when condemning Kiffin for USC's perceived lack of offensive production.

The fact is that no matter how effective you are calling plays, it simply doesn't matter if you turn the ball over and in that department, there were few teams worse than the Trojans in 2012.

In fact, only three teams gave the ball away more than USC last year and it doesn't take a genius to understand that brilliant play calling becomes irrelevant if you are not holding on to the rock.

But that wasn't the only issue confronting Kiffin's offense.

Compounding the offensive problems in 2012 was the Trojans proclivity for committing penalties and when it came to shooting themselves in the foot, only 10 teams fared worse than USC.

So it turns out that in the two departments that successful teams must do well in—turnovers and penalties—there were few that weren't as inept as the Trojans.

Having said all that though, this isn't the main reason for why Kiffin should be allowed to call plays this year.

Rather, the best argument for Kiffin retaining those duties is as simple as recognizing that this is his team and his job is on the line.

As such, he should have a say in how his destiny plays out in 2013. If he wants to call the plays, that should be his prerogative.

Also, it should be noted that Kiffin is only one year removed from a 10-2 season in which USC finished as a top five team in the nation.

As I recall, there were few fans calling for his job at the end of that year.

And this doesn't even take into consideration that Kiffin was the offensive coordinator for USC for many of the salad days of the Pete Carroll era.

So let the naysayers whine about a head coach who is fighting for his job and in doing so, determines that USC's best chance of winning is with him calling the shots when it comes to the offensive plays they run.

Kiffin is doing what he thinks is right and if he is wrong, this will be his final hurrah for the Cardinal and Gold.

But sink or swim, it should be his call.