USC Football Makes A Great Hire With Lane Kiffin at Expense Of Tennessee

Paul SalmanSenior Analyst IJanuary 14, 2010


Lane Kiffin has been taking tons of heat the last few days and his coaching ability is being questioned.

Lane is a guy who attracts the spotlight for his success and for his antics. Outside of (possible) recruiting issues, which as we all know go on at most big time programs (doesn't make it right, but just stating the facts) he is a very good coach and I don't think anyone can deny that.

He recruited talent at USC, and he ran an offense that averaged over 30 points per game in his six years. He was promoted by Pete Carroll, who we all know is a good coach and wouldn't move a guy up at the expense of the program, and made Lane Kiffin the offensive coordinator, which is a huge role for a 29-30 year old at the time.

His stay at Oakland did not go well, but that can be attributed to Oakland being a very tough place to succeed in given Al Davis, and that many coaches do not translate from College to NFL, especially at such a young age, when you are coaching some players who are older than you. But this is college, so his Oakland experience really has no bearing on his success in College.

In one year at Tennessee, he ALMOST (Yes almost is good enough when you got clobbered the previous year) beat Florida and Alabama. He got Tennessee over .500 in his first year and to a bowl after being left with limited talent. According to Rivals, Tennessee did not even have a top 25 class in the year prior to Kiffin's arrival, which was a first for the program last decade, and only 3 top 10 classes since 2002. He was left with limited (relative to the conference he is in) among of talent and had to compete against Urban Meyer and Nick Saban who both boasted top 5-10 recruiting classes. He was left with a huge weakness at the quarterback position, but found a way to hide that weakness and win games.

Given the talent he now has at USC, some of which are still his recruits, the familiarity with the program, the passion he has for the program, I find it hard to fathom any fall off at USC. Having his father Monte come over with him, who is an NFL guy that any high school defensive player would love to play for (and USC already gets top Defensive players now they have a defensive guru as the coach), Ed Oregeron who is a great and tireless recruiter (most of the Ole Miss talent is from Orgeron's days as head coach), add to that Norm Chow who was there for their heyday in 2001-2004, how can you as a college fan deny that (barring any NCAA sanctions which are still TBD) USC has basically zero chance of failure.

They may not win 7 straight PAC Ten titles because their conference is getting much better, and has some very good coaching, including Washington which hired a former USC staff member as their coach, however they will continue to be in the top 2 or 3 in the PAC ten every year and most likely closer to the top 1 or 2. They will most likely be right back in the top 5-10 every year after this past "down" year at 9-4. USC will be back to winning 10+ games probably by next season given their Quarterback, the talent around him, and the exceptional staff that Lane Kiffin has assembled.

The players will all feel rejuvenated and ready to show that last year was a fluke and recruiting won't miss a beat (I repeat, barring any sanctions).

 In case you missed it, check out this clip and what Matt Barkley is saying about the buzz around the Kiffin hiring.

 USC will continue to be a perennial BCS team for the next several years, until Lane Kiffin jumps back to the NFL, at which point USC will still be ok because they are still USC. This is a program that has 7 Heisman winners, 38 Conference titles and 11 National Titles. This program is a classic program and situated in a goldmine region for recruiting. USC is not going away any time soon.

For those who want to knock the hire and knock Lane Kiffin for not proving anything, let me ask you this, would you bet against USC between now and 2015?