ESPN College GameDay 2013: Lane Kiffin's Appearance Won't Help Coaching Stock

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2013

Jul 26, 2013; Culver City, CA, USA;  Southern California head coach Lane Kiffin speaks to the media during PAC-12 media day held at the Sony Studios Lot.  Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

Lane Kiffin was recently fired as head coach of the USC Trojans following a 62-41 loss at the hands of Arizona State. Kiffin has never been one to stay out of the spotlight for long, though, as he will appear on ESPN's College GameDay on Saturday. At this point, however, there isn't much Kiffin can do to improve his reputation.

While Kiffin is generally considered a good offensive football coach, he hasn't been able to get the job done at any level as a head coach. Kiffin's time with the Oakland Raiders was nightmarish. He followed that up by leaving the University of Tennessee high and dry in favor of USC. The Trojans had immense expectations under Kiffin last year especially, but they fell well short.

Perhaps that wasn't all Kiffin's fault, but the head coach has to take a certain measure of responsibility. Starting quarterback Matt Barkley did get injured last season after all, but the team struggled even with him in the lineup. USC was considered the favorite to face Alabama for the national championship last year, but it finished 7-6 and lost to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.

Kiffin looked to get the program back on track in 2013, but he could never recover from a 10-7 loss to perennial Pac-12 cellar dweller Washington State in Week 2. Losing to Arizona State was the last straw as he was fired just hours later.

The Trojans already seem to be playing harder less than two weeks since Kiffin's dismissal as they beat Arizona under interim head coach Ed Orgeron on Thursday, according to SportsCenter.

That certainly doesn't inspire confidence in Kiffin, but neither will his appearance on College GameDay. Kiffin presumably wants a chance to tell his side of the story regarding why he wasn't successful at USC, but Kiffin has a penchant for messy breakups as the Raiders and Volunteers can attest to.

With that in mind, there may very well be plenty of finger pointing and blame passing on his part. Although that would certainly make for compelling television, it won't help him get another head coaching job any time soon.

According to Arash Markazi of, this may not be the last we see of Kiffin on television in the near future.

While Kiffin's coaching merits can certainly be questioned, there is no doubt that he is thoughtful and intelligent when it comes to the game of football. He hasn't always been able to apply those attributes on the field, but they could make him an excellent analyst.

After learning that Kiffin would be appearing on College GameDay, Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated wondered aloud whether it might be an audition to join the show moving forward.

ESPN isn't one to shy away from controversy, so Kiffin would be a logical addition. ESPN brought outspoken radio personality Paul Finebaum into the fold, and he hasn't wasted any time making his presence felt on College GameDay. Kiffin would add yet another dynamic personality, and that would most definitely make the show even more compelling.

It essentially comes down to whether or not Kiffin is interested in doing television work. As long as he is at least somewhat competent, unlike his tenure at USC, ESPN probably won't hesitate to offer him a job. Truth be told, Kiffin would be wise to accept it because it's hard to imagine a big school pursuing Kiffin at this point.

Kiffin may get offers from some lower-level FBS schools, but he is so used to high-profile jobs that he won't take a step down. College GameDay would provide him with steady employment, and it would keep his name out there, so it wouldn't be a bad situation. 

Regardless of how poorly he has performed as a head coach, Kiffin is bound to get another chance at some point down the road. Doing work for College GameDay would expedite the process more so than sitting at home because people in positions of power will have a chance to see him on a weekly basis.

As far as Saturday is concerned, though, Kiffin won't do himself any favors. The firing is still fresh in his mind, which means that he is likely to be emotional. He may say some things that he'll later regret, which will be great for the show, but damaging to his coaching prospects.

This is very clearly a ploy on ESPN's part to capitalize on Kiffin's newsworthiness, and it's difficult to blame the company because Kiffin's involvement promises to make for an interesting Saturday.


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