USC Confirms Their Condemned Future

Lew WrightSenior Writer IJanuary 13, 2010

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 31:  Head coach Lane Kiffen of the Tennessee Volunteers watches against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Neyland Stadium on October 31, 2009 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett is no stranger to controversy. Listening to the blog chatter, Garrett has been fired more times than an AK-47 in the hands of an Afghan insurgent. Or so the dream goes…

If stunning the folks who follow college football were the goal, Garrett connected with quite a hail Mary with the selection of Lane Kiffin to succeed Coach Pete Carroll as the new head man for Trojan football. Simply put, the choice of Kiffin is a shocker.

There are a handful of plum college football coaching jobs in the country. In terms of media exposure, a very strong argument could be made for USC topping the list. Let’s say I lose that debate. You would certainly concede the USC job is in the Top 10. Using that as a starting point, why would Kiffin be a part of the discussion to replace Carroll?

Kiffin has the reputation as an outstanding recruiter. During his years as an assistant under Carroll at USC, Kiffin is credited for sealing the deal on some of the best high school prospects in the nation.  Then again, the tradition of USC, the extended network of USC and the personable Coach Carroll may have influenced the draw for student-athletes to become Trojan football players.

With the usual list of five-star prospects verbally committed to USC, Kiffin shouldn’t need to worry about his incoming class inherited from the departed Carroll. Or will he? Will prospects committed to USC be able to depend on Kiffin to develop them into first-rate Pac-10 football players?

There’s a roster full of young men back at Tennessee who know that Kiffin’s word is only as good as his most recent job offer. Going back just a few short years, young men at USC learned the hard way just how dependable the word of Kiffin is when he bolted for the chance to work with the NFL football genius that is Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders.

If Garrett was placing a tremendous value on bringing back a former USC assistant to fill his coaching vacancy, did he call Coach Steve Sarkisian?

Comparing Coach Sark and Kiffin is almost unfair. To begin with, Coach Sark did more with less on the gridiron last season.  Sarkisian changed the Huskies from a basement doormat to a team clearly marching toward the penthouse suite. When it comes to image in the media, why insult you by wasting words comparing the two?

In the case of tapping Lane Kiffin to place his name plate on the desk in the head coach’s football office in Heritage Hall, Mike Garrett confirms NCAA sanctions will be coming swiftly, severing the horse-hair suspending a sword of Damocles over USC.

The fate and future of USC football is all but sealed to be something other than what it was with Coach Carroll at the helm. New head coach Lane Kiffin will likely be shackled by the NCAA in a manner which will demote the program to one of mediocrity.

And if you poll other head football coaches in the SEC, the consensus would be that it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.



Originally published in Lew Wright's WSU Sports column on