Why USC's Hiring of Tennessee's Lane Kiffin Makes No Sense

Kevin TrahanAnalyst IJanuary 12, 2010

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 31:  Coach Lane Kiffin of the Tennessee Volunteers watches pre-game warmups before the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against the Virginia Tech Hokies at the Georgia Dome on December 31, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Hokies beat the Volunteers 37-14.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

After losing head coach Pete Carroll to the Seattle Seahawks, the USC Trojans were looking to hire a big name to help restore the usually prominent program.

Names like the Tennessee Titans' Jeff Fisher, Oregon State's Mike Riley, the Jacksonville Jaguar's Jack Del Rio, and Boise State's Chris Petersen were thrown around, coaches who all have what it takes to resurrect the USC program.

But after many of those coaches said they were uninterested in the job, the Trojans weren't left with many options.

In order to make a quick decision in time for National Signing Day, USC selected Lane Kiffin to be its next coach.


That's a good question. If the Trojans' main goal was to create controversy and stun the college football world, USC has its man. But if the goal was to find a good leader for a football team, Southern Cal wiffed.

USC has a proud tradition of winning, almost sweeping Pac-10 football championships this decade. For a program that considers a 9-4 season a failure, Kiffin hardly seems like a viable candidate.

Sure he has a history at Southern Cal and sure he has experience in the NFL. But the controversial coach brings with him more problems than he is worth.

To start, Kiffin is not a proven winner. His resume as a head coach is hardly breathtaking, with a 5-15 record with the NFL's Oakland Raiders and a 7-6 record last year with the Tennessee Volunteers.

While Pete Carroll wasn't a proven champion at the time of his hire, he still showed that he could win big games, leading the New England Patriots to two playoff appearances in three seasons.

But the bigger issue may be the off-field issues with both parties.

Many think that the reason Carroll left USC is controversy surrounding the program for violations dealing with running backs Reggie Bush and Joe McKnight. The NCAA announced that it will meet with the university and major sanctions may come into play.

The basketball program is also in turmoil and the Trojans have punished themselves by trimming scholarships and banning themselves from postseason play in 2010 for violations dealing with former player OJ Mayo.

The last thing the Trojans needed was more violations. And it looks like they just got a lot more.

At Tennessee, Kiffin was known for his recruiting violations and for angering other coaches in the league.

He committed what seemed like a violation a week in Knoxville, embarrassing the program and the sport.

And his putting up posters in Gainesville to try to steal Florida Gators recruits didn't help the situation either.

But nevertheless, the king of NCAA violations and mediocrity is headed to one of the most heralded coaching positions in all of college sports.

The deal makes perfect sense for Kiffin, but for USC, it may end up being a bust. You can't put out fire with fire and adding more violations won't help solve the once already in place.

Who know, maybe USC athletic director Mike Garrett will come up with another pleasant surprise in Los Angeles. But given the circumstances, the Trojans front office has made a puzzling choice to say the least.

And its hard to see the proud program of USC turning itself around quickly under Lane Kiffin.