Biggest Takeaways from Lane Kiffin's Interview on ESPN's 'College GameDay'
Lane Kiffin made his first public appearance since his unceremonious firing from USC on Sept. 29 when he appeared on ESPN's College GameDay during the pregame show's live broadcast from the University of Washington campus in Seattle.
In a one-on-one interview with host Chris Fowler, Kiffin described his reaction to his termination five games into his fourth season with the Trojans, what he thought of USC in its first game under interim coach Ed Orgeron and how he'll grow from the experience.
Click through the slideshow to see the highlights—or lowlights, depending on your perspective—from Kiffin's interview. And make sure to check out our take on Kiffin's second appearance on GameDay, this time as an "analyst."
All in all, Fowler's interview with Kiffin fell on the boring side when it comes to "exclusive" interviews with hot-button public figures.
Fowler threw mostly softballs at Kiffin, more or less skirting the circumstances surrounding the firing itself, instead opting to ask the 38-year-old about his feelings toward being out of coaching.
"It's been a very hard two weeks," Kiffin, clad in a gray suit, told Fowler. "I have great passion for USC, for those players, for those coaches. To have that taken away, it was very hard."
A Little Nervous There, Lane?
Kiffin faced Fowler the entire time. He appeared to be rocking back and forth a little bit, letting off an air of nervousness that clashed with the aloof demeanor he normally gave off while USC's coach.
Could it have had something to do with being interviewed in front of a crowd full of Washington fans?
"These aren't my fans," Kiffin joked at the beginning of the interview.
Kiffin did take the blame for his firing and for USC's performance over the past season-and-a-half, saying, "Obviously, I'm to blame as the head coach."
Kiffin said he regularly met with USC athletic director Pat Haden during his coaching tenure, adding, "he's a very hands-on athletic director." Though he didn't say whether Haden gave him any heads-up about a possible firing, he understood why the change had to happen.
"Even though he (Haden) may see how hard it was on the inside, and dealing with the (NCAA) sanctions, he has a very hard job," Kiffin said. "A lot of people to answer to."
Thursday Night in Seattle
Kiffin said he watched USC's 38-31 win over Arizona on Thursday night as a guest of Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, his former colleague with the Trojans.
"It was like watching someone else raise your kids," Kiffin said, referring to interim coach Ed Orgeron running the team. "At the same time, I know they're in great hands. I was so proud of those kids, and for coach O to get that win."
Dissed by Former Players? Eh, No Biggie
During the interview, footage was played of USC quarterback Cody Kessler—during the Arizona postgame press conference—talking about how he and his teammates were so happy to have a coach they would go to war for.
Fowler asked Kiffin what he felt about being dissed by his former QB, but Kiffin wasn't biting: "By the time I woke up the next day, I had texts from him (Kessler) and his mom. I would expect nothing less than for him to support the new coach."
Room for Improvement
Kiffin's head coaching career has included three stops (Oakland Raiders, University of Tennessee and USC), none of which have been considered very successful.
Kiffin told Fowler each stint has helped him learn from what he's done wrong, and he hopes to build off that if and when he gets back into coaching.
"You're always trying to figure yourself out, the mistakes you've made, and things I've done that I wouldn't do again have followed me."
The sign-filled background that is a staple of College GameDay did include some choice references toward Kiffin, none of which were positive.
Among the notables: "Remember when Lane Kiffin had a job?" and "Hey Kiffin, ESPN isn't hiring."