What felt inevitable finally happened Sunday morning: Head coach Lane Kiffin was fired at USC.
The team issued the following press release:
Lane Kiffin has been relieved of his duties as USC's head football coach, Trojan athletic director Pat Haden announced early today (Sept. 29). Haden informed Kiffin of his termination upon the team charter's arrival back in Los Angeles early Sunday morning following USC's 62-41 loss at Arizona State.
Kiffin's Trojans have lost 7 of their past 11 games. USC is 3-2 this year and has lost both of its Pac-12 games. His overall record in 4 years at USC is 28-15.
Haden will hold a press conference at USC on Sunday afternoon at a time and place to be announced.
The move comes on the heels of USC losing to Arizona State on Saturday night, 62-41, the team's second Pac-12 loss to start the season. After the game, Kiffin was asked about his job security, and he didn't seem too concerned.
Arash Markazi of ESPN passed along a statement from Kiffin discussing his situation prior to the announcement:
Kiffin understands that the talk about his job status will ratchet up this week with USC having a bye week after its worst performance of the season.
"I'm fine with that," Kiffin said. "I have been dealing with that for 12 months. That's fine. That's the last thing I'm worried about. We have to find a way to coach better and play better and get our backups ready."
USC was clearly concerned, however, firing him rather quickly after the loss.
Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman reports Jack Del Rio is a strong option to replace Kiffin:
NFL team officials are insisting Jack Del Rio among top, if not the top, candidate to replace Lane Kiffin at USC.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) September 29, 2013
As you might expect, Twitter was quickly ablaze responding to the news, and one of the primary storylines was how little time USC wasted in cutting ties with Kiffin.
We start with Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
Tough to measure exactly how badly USC wanted to fire Lane Kiffin. But they announced it at 4:50 am local time. So... I guess pretty badly— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 29, 2013
Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports notes that the decision was likely made before USC even returned to Southern California:
Not sure Pat Haden even waited for the team plane to get back to Los Angeles to fire Kiffin. Wow. He certainly had it coming.— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) September 29, 2013
And Dana O'Neil saw a poetic justice in the manner of Kiffin's axing:
Lane Kiffin fired. In the middle of the night. Why does this seem so apropo?— Dana O'Neil (@ESPNDanaOneil) September 29, 2013
The talk also centered around the opportunity Kiffin had at USC, and how he seems to keep getting high-profile gigs despite a pretty shoddy resume.
Jason Whitlock of ESPN humorously wondered about Kiffin's representation:
Raiders, Tennessee and USC. Lane Kiffin had the best agent in sports. Who repped him? Ari Gold? Saul Goodman? Maurice Levy? Who?— Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) September 29, 2013
John Kincade of CBS can also sense the inevitability of Kiffin's future job prospects, noting what a team would have to overlook to bring him aboard:
Who is the NEXT employer that will look past all his flaws as a Coach and leader and hire Lane Kiffin?— John Kincade (@JohnKincade) September 29, 2013
Finally, Kevin Negandhi of ESPN neatly summed up what most people seem to think about Kiffin:
Lane Kiffin fired by USC. A man given so much for doing so little.— Kevin Negandhi (@KNegandhiESPN) September 29, 2013
So what will Kiffin's legacy be at USC?
One of disappointment, surely. Colin Cowherd of ESPN takes a look at what Kiffin accomplished, or, perhaps more accurately, failed to accomplish:
A sign of poorly coached team---inconsistency. USC was all over the map--week to week.— Colin Cowherd (@ESPN_Colin) September 29, 2013
Kiffin 17-12 in PAC 12. Lost 5 of last 6 in conference. Had momentum 18 months ago---lost ALL of it.— Colin Cowherd (@ESPN_Colin) September 29, 2013
And amid all of the bizarre moments of his reign at USC, Tom Pelissero of USA Today will always remember Kiffin for one odd press conference in particular:
Lane Kiffin had a QB and punter switch jerseys, deflated footballs and lied about voting USC No. 1. But this wins: http://t.co/mJmXe2tlW4— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) September 29, 2013
If the responses on Twitter are to be believed, Kiffin won't be missed at USC. Even with the sanctions the school faced, there is the widespread belief that the team dramatically underachieved during his tenure.
Kiffin will surely get a job elsewhere, but the days of him receiving high-profile gigs may come to a close with the USC debacle.