USC: Lane Kiffin: My Confession Of Rooting For A Bad Guy

Paul SalmanSenior Analyst IApril 1, 2010


Source for all quotes and information is Andy Staples latest article on

Like him or not, Lane Kiffin knows what he is doing when it comes to getting the best talent. As far as his coaching skills, we are still waiting to see more, although his one year at Tennessee cannot be deemed a failure at all.

I am very opposed to hypocritical views. I will be the first to poke at someone who may have inconsistencies in their opinions when discussing various issues. “How can you like this in situation A, but opposed the same thing in situation B.” I have been known to use that line a lot.

Today, I admit that I am doing what I oppose with the Lane Kiffin situation.

In many ways, Kiffin is what I deem as “wrong” with coaching, especially when you look at some coaches in college basketball. I do not like how the coaches bounce around for money, recruits just follow the coach, and the universities are all at the mercy of the coaches decisions. I get very angry when coaches leave and a school and it’s athletic department are left to deal with a mess that the former coach left behind, ie: Coach Cal leaving Memphis with potential sanctions in store and wins being vacated. This affects the school as a whole, it’s athletics programs, it’s fans, its reputation while the coach moves on to greener pastures for more money. This happens in football, but much less since it takes much more time to develop a winning football program vs. basketball program.

Lane Kiffin is that guy in college football. He talks a lot, he recruits well, although his methods have been questioned on several occasions, and he hasn’t shown loyalty to any team or program, other than USC. He really left Tennessee is a sore spot, again leaving for greener pastures while the school is left to clean up the mess. On top of all that, he has a total of 33 games experience as a head coach, with just 11 wins and left both of his jobs under bad terms.

Wow, I really make a case for why NOT to like Lane Kiffin.

With all that being said, I root for Kiffin and hope he succeeds. There is something about him that I really enjoy. I like his confidence, I like his attitude, I like his understanding of the world we live in and what it takes TODAY to get the best players to come to your school.

I like that he adjusts his style of all of the above traits, based on his job.
"There's a specific plan for whatever job you take," Kiffin said Tuesday. "You don't treat them all the same. Like I said when I got here, there's a specific plan for here. That's to coach football and recruit players. We don't really need to do anything else. ... We have a high level of interest from recruits around the country. We don't need to go out and gather that attention to help us in recruiting."

That sounds to me like a shot at Tennessee and being the second fiddle (or 3rd, or 4th) to Florida. Kiffin needed to play into the hype machine. He needed to make brash comments, and predict wins and target Urban Meyer. What 18 year old would pick Knoxville vs. Gainesville, given the weather is better in Florida, the girls are prettier in Florida, and The Gators are winning every year with an established coach in Urban Meyer. Lane needed to create a hype around the program that has been lacking with the previous coaching staff. Lane needed to establish himself and at Tennessee, he had to do it differently than he would (or now is) at USC. At USC he is back to being the FIRST fiddle and doesn’t need to use those same, “low-ball”, tactics.

Lane Kiffin is liked by his players. Did you see the reception he received when he got to USC. Matt Barkley could not look happier. Matt Barkley was recruited by Kiffin and knows his style and personality.

As for his actual coaching style, he already is more disciplinary than Pete Carroll.

All lines had to be touched on sprints. All snaps had to be perfect. Fumbles were punished immediately.

"The attitude has changed," quarterback Matt Barkley said. "I've said it before. It's just a little more -- not dedication -- but being on task. It's more disciplined now. It starts with the coaching staff. The tempo starts with them."

Obviously the old staff had its way and it worked. However, maybe those few losses to teams that were inferior over the Carroll years reflected that “relaxed” style of coaching. Maybe those games could have been won had the coach been a bit more disciplinarian in his methods. Not to say Kiffin is Bear Bryant, but he is obviously more strict than Carroll. Those few wins could have been the difference in one of the best programs in the last decade, to THE best program of the last decade. A couple of those losses resulted in USC not making the National Title game, while obviously being one of the best two teams at the end of the year.

Any potential NCAA sanctions will not be enough to hinder much of USC’s future based on the talent they have already recruited over the years. Like Staples says in his article: If Kiffin is worried about an NCAA hammer smashing his program, it didn't show Tuesday. And let's be honest: the NCAA doesn't have much in its toolbox to do serious damage to a program. The worst it can do is ban the Trojans from postseason play for a season or two. Even significant scholarship cuts would hurt less at USC, which still would have its pick of recruits and would remain extremely competitive provided coaches chose wisely when doling out their limited grants-in-aid. More than likely, the committee will make USC vacate a bunch of wins, which means nothing to the guy who must coach the Trojans going forward. It's a toothless punishment. Last year, the NCAA made Alabama vacate some wins from the 2005 season. After the penalty was announced, I checked YouTube, and Tyrone Prothro still caught that ball to beat Southern Miss that year.

Time will tell how Kiffin does at USC, but given the talent he has, the recruiting skills he owns, the staff he has assembled, and the location of USC, I would not bet against Lane Kiffin succeeding at USC, very quickly.

As to why I am rooting for him, again I am being that hypocritical person I dislike, but maybe it’s just more evidence as to Lane Kiffin’s ability to recruit and win over talent. He even has a stubborn Penn State fan like myself on his band wagon.

And now for some additional reasons to root for Kiffin. Click Here for some pics!