Lane Kiffin Newly Hired: Is USC in the Wrong Lane?

Bryan FlynnAnalyst IJanuary 13, 2010

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 19:  Head coach Lane Kiffin of the Tennessee Volunteers watches the action prior to the game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images


The fallout of Pete Carroll’s leap to the NFL has reached all the way to the South Eastern Conference. USC made their way to Tennessee to rob Lane Kiffin from the Volunteers.

Of course, there is outrage in Vols country over Kiffin’s leap to what many believe are greener pastures. The Volunteers will be fine as soon as they find a coach and can put the focus back on the program and not on Kiffin.

The problem with all of this could be with the Trojans of USC. The hiring of Kiffin might bring a lot of national attention, but so did his hiring at Tennessee.

For a school that is already under NCAA investigations, the hiring of Kiffin could be the worst possible choice. Here is a look back on what all Kiffin has done before he ended up as the head coach of the Trojans.

In January 2007, Al Davis named Kiffin the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Davis was reported to have drafted a letter of resignation for Kiffin following his 4-12 record his first year.

Kiffin would not sign the letter of resignation because he would forfeit his $2 million salary for the rest of his two-year guaranteed contract.  In Kiffin’s second season in Oakland, things only became worse between Davis and his coach.

After posting a 1-3 record in his first four games of the 2008 season, Kiffin was fired by Davis for cause on Sept. 30. Davis referred to Kiffin as a “flat-out liar” “who was bringing disgrace to the organization” and fractured the coaching staff with “conduct detrimental to the team.”

Kiffin posted a 5-15 record with the Raiders and was replaced by Tom Cable. Think about this if you think Kiffin was a great hire at USC.

Cable, who replaced Kiffin, has gone 9-18 in three-fourths of a season with the Raiders. Not bad, but add this to the equation: Cable has so far been accused of attacking assistant coach Randy Harrison and physically abusing two of his ex-wives.

As big of a dumpster fire Oakland has been since their Super Bowl run in the 2002-03 season, the Raiders did not even want Kiffin. The Raiders instead left the organization in the hands of a man who punched or tipped over an assistant coach and might have committed spousal abuse.

Kiffin then moved to Knoxville, where in his first press conference he boldly stated he would be singing "Rocky Top" all night long after beating Florida. He then went on to throw verbal jabs against Urban Meyer of the Gators, Nick Saban of Alabama, and Steve Spurrier of South Carolina.

Another thing for Trojan fans to worry about is Kiffin opening his mouth to Pac-10 coaches. This is a year after Jim Harbaugh's Stanford team dropped 55 points against the Trojans and Chip Kelly's Oregon team hung 47 points on USC.

The loss to the Cardinals saw the most points ever given up by the Trojans in their 121-year history and the worst loss of the Pete Carroll era. The loss to the Ducks was the biggest defeat in the Carroll era, until the following week at Stanford.

Kiffin could fire shots at Harbaugh, Kelly, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, and Arizona coach Mike Stoops. All four coaches might have the talent to run up the score next season against the Trojans.

While at Tennessee, Kiffin made several comments to recruits to rival schools. One was to Gamecocks recruit Alshon Jeffery that he "would be pumping gas for a living" if he went to play for South Carolina.

The remarks made by Kiffin made SEC commissioner Mike Slive hold closed door meetings with SEC football coaches and reprimand Kiffin and others publicly for comments.

Slive had to add bite to the “code of ethics” for the conference after repeated violations by Kiffin and other coaches during the season. Already, early reports have Kiffin and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron telling Tennessee recruits not to enroll early or not to show up to class.

While this may or may not be an NCAA violation, Kiffin now becomes the problem of Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott. This comes after a football season that saw Oregon player LeGarrette Blount punch a Boise State player.

In 14 months Kiffin compiled a 7-6 record in the SEC, with a 4-4 conference record for a conference that many considered to be top heavy. Kiffin also committed at least six minor NCAA violations as well.

USC supporters should think about that for a program still facing questions about Reggie Bush and Joe McKnight.  The Trojans have hired a coach that has made comments about recruits on the radio, sent co-eds to high schools, and met recruits on campus, drawing the eye of the NCAA.

Now with the ongoing problems at USC and Tennessee, the NCAA will check in on Kiffin every time he sneezes. This could mean that the Trojans end up on probation before his time at USC is done.

Kiffin will have a great coaching staff with his father, Monte Kiffin, leading the defense. He could add a bonus if he can convince Norm Chow to leave the Bruins and become the offensive coordinator for the Trojans.

The only question is will this staff, along with Kiffin, become a superstar staff of rule-breakers? USC could see itself in a potential SMU situation because of this hire.

Remember this, Tennessee fans: As bad as the Kiffin era might end up being during his time at Tennessee, with probation looming from his only season in Knoxville, remember that before Kiffin, they had Philip Fulmer.

Fulmer, the coach that won a national title, won 152 games, two conference titles, and five first place titles in the SEC East in his nearly 17 seasons at Tennessee. Volunteer fans should tell Trojan fans to be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it.