Top Five Reasons Lane Kiffin Bolts For USC

Jon Sarver@ IJanuary 13, 2010

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 12: Lane Kiffin, head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers looks on against the UCLA Bruins on September 12, 2009 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. UCLA beat Tennessee 19-15. (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)
Joe Murphy/Getty Images

For those of you in the SEC who will trash Lane Kiffin and USC because it's winter and the articles about Alabama's win are almost a week old, go for it!

If you had you supported a college football playoff, we would still be playing college football, and it would be at the forefront of America's conscience. 

But we don't have a playoff, so you are relegated to just being mad. Judging by your comments, many of you are!

We think it is a good choice, but a risky choice and one we'll save that for another artice. But for now, let's look at the top five reasons Kiffin would rather coach at USC than Tennessee.

No. 5:  High-Powered Offense Already in Place

No gimmicky schemes here. No wildcat. No spread offense. There is no need for any of that. At USC, there never has been: It is strength against strength.

The Trojans will now look—or at least attempt to—a lot like they did in the Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, John David Booty, and Mark Sanchez years. This keeps recruits in the fold and USC on top.

Lane Kiffin runs a pro-style offense. That's lots of three—and five—step drops by the quarterback, lots of play-action, and lots of throwing. This is right in line with the current philosophy, and keeps continuity, which is important if you don't want your program to slip before it gets better.

Ah, right Michigan?

The ground game is essential too, and there are usually two backs—a tailback and a fullback—in the backfield. It's a pounding running attack. 

USC has a very good running back in Marc Tyler, who was injured last year, but a Carroll favorite. He will be one of the focal points of the offense.

Mike Mayock, scouting expert for the NFL Network, stated, "It's going to be very similar to what you see most NFL teams do and what we saw Pete Carroll do over the last several years, keep in mind Lane's got a quarterback, and he knows it, so he's going to want to throw the football and recruit receivers." 

We believe Garrett did not want to take a chance at the program going a different direction. He has ensured continuity with Kiffin and brings "splash"  back to the program that was missing since Carroll left the program.

All Trojan fans are hoping Kiffin patches up differences with Norm Chow and brings him home. It does two things. 

It shows UCLA recruits that UCLA is still the distant second cousin in L.A and it matches up a great offensive mind with incredible offense talent. And you know what happened last time!

What's more, Chow is an exceptional quarterbacks coach who brought along Palmer, Leinart, Philip Rivers, Ty Detmer, and many more. Not the USC defense is patterned after Monte Kiffin's style already!

Note: We didn't mention any UCLA quarterbacks in that mix. The Bruins have never had the magnetic draw of USC. Pure and simple!

The offenses in the SEC, while dynamic, do not present the dynamics that USC does with big market exposure. 

You get exposure and you are noticed by the NFL. It is working at USC very well.  Additionally, there isn't competition with the other great SEC schools for a more limited offensive talent base. USC is in the heart of the best high school talent in the country.

USC walks in the door and other Pac-10 coaches leave. It is a fact, and it happens all the time.

USC and Kiffin over the SEC.

No. 4: The USC Defense Is Already Patterned After Monte Kiffin's Style 

USC has a great legacy on this side of the ball, too. Two of USC's linebackers were in line for this year's NFL Rookie of the Year.

Monte Kiffin—Lane's father—developed the Tampa-2 defense when he was with the Buccaneers, and that helped the franchise to its only Super Bowl victory. Carroll has always spoken highly of his mentor, and this is a major part of the reason.  

In its simplest form, Tampa-2 is a four-man front with three linebackers and four defensive backs, two safeties deep, creating a "shell" forming the last line of defense. This is consistent with the type of schemes that draws talent to a school like USC. 

It will just keep the talent rolling in.

There are all sorts of variations and creative blitzes—the elder Kiffin specializes in those, too—but the basic idea is to deny the big play and force offenses to dink and dunk underneath to move the ball. The more nickel-and-diming done, the more likely those offenses will make a mistake.

Former Tampa Bay linebacker Shelton Quarles, who now works in the Buccaneers' personnel department, said, "What we do is you try to make sure that they have to go the length of the field, It's hard to go the length of the field against what we do and not make a mistake. And then when you make a mistake, we're able to capitalize on that."  

It is true your defense strategy takes on the personality of your recruits. Carroll attacked when he had players that fit that mold, but he was also comfortable with the dunk-and-dink. 

Monte Kiffin will play the best of both worlds here.

Quarles continued, saying that Monte Kiffin will recruit versatile defensive players and linebackers who might be on the smaller side but who are adept at blitzing, dropping into coverage, and making plays all over the field. 

It sure looks like that will be similar to what has been happening for years, and that keeps current recruits and theTrojan faithful happy.

"When you have a 3-4 defense you have linebackers that are typically bigger and covering less of an area," Quarles said. "When you have linebackers that have to play the Cover-2, they have to cover more field and have to be able to run." 

Very close to what we already see at Southern California.

Again, this plays right into Kiffiin's strength as being a terrific recruiter with his backyard as big as the state of Tennessee. This gives him a great advantage over the Pac-10 and an opportunity to excel big time; something he would have a much harder time doing at Tennessee and the SEC because of geography and allegiance!

No. 3 Kiffin Can and Will Keep His Mouth Shut

Kiffin has been mocked repeatedly in the south about his snot-nosed kid attitude towards SEC gods like Urban Meyer. From Los Angeles, it was easy to see he was attempting to get a struggling Tennessee program back on the map in the SEC. 

He won't have to shoot off his mouth at USC. If he does, someone will shut it for him fast. 

At USC, you do not need to talk. Just play!

One Tennessee resident who has watched Kiffin closely over the years, Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Theismann, thinks the young coach will probably take a more low-key approach at USC. Agreed.

"When Lane was in Tennessee, he said a lot of things and took a lot of shots from people, but nobody was firing at his football team. He created an interest in that team," said Theismann.

"He won't have to do that at USC. He can just go back and coach...I feel very confident that he doesn't think he needs to do the same things at USC that he needed to do at Tennessee. At Tennessee, he basically took the approach, 'Hey, look at my program! Look at what we're trying to do!' At USC, he's going to be the keeper of the castle and do the things that he learned to do when he was there before."

For you angry SEC hacks—because there are millions of you on blogs because it's what do you do in the winter—who just don't believe this, but just watch.

I believe USC gives this young coach an opportunity to focus on coaching and lean on some great talent that his assistants have.  He doesn't need the exposure at USC, and he's not going against Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, or even Steve Spurrier, the "guy" from the other "USC."

Now don't accuse him of running from the "outlandishly difficult SEC."  He's going to the  highest profile college football job in America. 

If it was any other school those people with this opinion might have a point.  Not at USC.

No. 2: The Trojans Are Poised To Win Now

For many of you in the SEC, you can relate to a team bouncing back from a four loss season and coming back strong.  Florida did in 2007, so please don't tell me USC is finished. 

They have a stock load of talent only rivaled by Florida, and their defense will improve in 2010. Additionally, no one points out the fact that USC lost four starting linebackers to the NFL in '09 and two of those guys were neck-and-neck for Rookie of the Year.

USC's offense does lose Damien Williams and Joe McKnight, but the aforementioned Marc Tyler and the remaining backs will bring back Student Body Right and Student Body Left. 

The Joe McKnight saga was complicated because he was seen as the next "Reggie Bush."  He could never shake that, and we think it is good that he is gone. 

I hope he takes his NCAA issues with him too. USC does need to develop a possession receiver like Damien Williams. Norm Chow, would you please leave UCLA?

Matt Barkley is a gift that Pete Carroll left to Kiffin.  No one knew at the time, but Kiffin will benefit from the inconsisten freshman year that Barkley had.

I believe Barkley's issue in midseason had more to do with being an overwhelmed freshman than anything else. He seemed to prove it against Boston College by playing big in a little game.

No. 1:  We Are SC!

I know, this is very irritating to UCLA and particularly Notre Dame fans, but it's true!

Here's some impressive USC statistics:

Consecutive conference championships: Seven Pac-10 records but the 2002, 2006, and 2007 titles were shared.

Consecutive BCS bowl appearances: Seven FBS (I-A) record

BCS bowl wins: FBS (I-A) record

Consecutive 11 win seasons: Seven FBS (I-A) record

Weeks at No. 1 in AP poll: 33 NCAA record

Consecutive Rose Bowl Championships:  Three all-time record

Rose Bowl Wins: 24

USC has won so many Rose Bowls they have run out of room on the Coliseum to list every one.

We think Kiffin made a sound move, though you can understand how the SEC, and particularly Tennessee, feel jilted. 

Hey, how about supporting a cause that is worth your time?  Why not help us dump the BCS and demand a college football playoff now.  Check it out and fight on for your team.


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