Why Firing Lane Kiffin Midseason Was the Perfect Call for USC Trojans

Randy ChambersAnalyst ISeptember 29, 2013

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 28:  Head coach Lane Kiffin  of the USC Trojans reacts during the college football game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Can you feel that? No, not the pressure of you making last-minute decisions with your fantasy team. That's the feeling of being free and not being held back by a head coach.

Lane Kiffin was fired as head coach of the USC Trojans, according to the school's official website. Sorry, Pat Haden, we all know you wanted to keep Kiffin around and were behind him 100 percent, but you made the right call to pull the plug only five games into the season.

It was only a matter of time before Kiffin was shown the door. To say he was underachieving would be an understatement. The USC football program was at an all-time low, losing to programs that shouldn't even be privileged to share the same field with the Trojans.

Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl last year? Washington State? Arizona State? Those teams would have been used to mop the floor in past years.

Reggie Bush and Pete Carroll are no longer with the team, but nobody can doubt that the talent is still around for USC to compete at the highest level. After all, the Trojans were the No. 1 team in the country coming into 2012, according to the AP poll.

Nothing has changed over the years, just the guys calling the shots—and Kiffin wasn't the right man for the job.

Firing a coach in the middle of the season is risky business. You're making the change in hopes for a better product on the field. Still, you aren't quite sure how the players will respond to the move.

They could use it as motivation or get so upset that they mail it in for the remainder of the year. Forget college ball, with this roster, guys could already begin counting the dollars they will soon make in the NFL. 

But a benefit is that USC has a leg up on the coaching competition, as Chris Peak of Rivals mentioned:

Haden made the right decision to fire Kiffin after a 62-41 loss to Arizona State. Never mind the questionable play-calling and lack of consistency on the field, the players' body language should have been the last straw for anybody who was still on the fence with the four-year USC coach.

There was no energy. No passion. Guys got used to losing and weren't motivated to try and turn it around. USC had plenty of chances to get back in the game against Arizona State, the same way losses to Arizona, Notre Dame and Oregon could have been avoided last season.

However, every loss shares the same commonality: USC players lost the will to fight.

Saturday night, USC was down 34-21 to Arizona State early in the third quarter. Did you really believe USC had a chance? It's not that this team isn't any good, it's that you have seen this team on a weekly basis and know that they don't have the heart to battle for 60 minutes.

When it rains, it pours, and USC hasn't seen sunlight in over two years.

That's a head coaching problem.

When was the last time USC players looked happy? Players look lifeless. Down two touchdowns? No problem! That's what former USC teams would say, but instead, guys look lost on the field and upset after every little mistake is made.

Apr 13, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lane Kiffin during the spring game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kiffin was never cheering his guys on in hopes of keeping their spirits up. Instead, he could constantly be seen with his arms folded on the sidelines. It's like he knew that this day wasn't far behind and that there was nothing he could do to turn it around.

USC has become accustomed to losing, which is simply unacceptable for a program that used to compete for national championships and Heismans. 

USC is 3-2 and could have easily lost to Utah State. Players either come together and show pride or they lose to the teams they were going to lose to anyway with Kiffin moping on the sidelines. 

The Trojans are finally free, and that is the first step in the right direction.