As a Jets fan, I know a thing or two about motivational coaches and Lane Kiffin is Rex Ryan in a 30-year-old, southern Californian body.
After reading Rick Reilly’s article on ESPN and watching his interview on Real Sports, Lane Kiffin is not the bad guy people make him out to be. The man wants to succeed no matter where he goes or who he is coaching.
Kiffin worked his way up the ladder of coaching while under Pete Carroll during the glory years of USC football. Kiffin was able to work his way up from the quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator, replacing Norm Chow when he left to fill the same position with the Tennessee Titans.
Kiffin had a successful stint as USC's offensive coordinator, displaying his incredibly offensive mind by putting multiple formations and perfect play designs together, helping USC achieve winning seasons.
As a result he was hired by the moribund franchise, the Oakland Raiders, to be their head coach. Al Davis said during the introductory press conference that he wanted a visionary and Kiffin was just that. Unfortunately things quickly soured and Kiffin was run out of Oakland, ending with a bizarre press conference called for by Al Davis.
Davis said that Kiffin disgraced the Raiders and let me say this: "No Al, you have disgraced the Raiders—a once proud NFL franchise that is now floundering under your ownership. Kiffin then decided to take his coaching talents to Knoxville and coach the Volunteers.
In Knoxville, Kiffin created firestorms with other SEC coaches including accusing Florida coach Urban Meyer of violating NCAA rules. Kiffin was all over the radio shows causing drama for what he says was to get attention for his Volunteers program.
In Reilly’s article when asked why he didn’t need to seek out attention at USC, Kiffin replied because everyone knows USC. If you want to win national championships you go to USC. At Tennessee he inherited a roster that was devoid of talent and at USC he has a buffet line of talent, although NCAA sanctions have limited the Trojans to only 71 scholarship players.
Reilly makes a point that after reading most columnists’ articles about Kiffin, you would believe he eats poached children for breakfast, sticks pins in the eyes of the elderly, drowns kittens for fun, all of which makes you half expect to see the numbers "666" shaved on his head.
In my opinion Kiffin is a man that will do anything to win. In this day and age all you see are professional athletes and coaches worried about their legacies. With Kiffin it’s "legacy be damned—as long as I win it doesn’t matter."
Unfortunately Kiffin has been dealt a bad hand at USC this season with the roster limitations in place as part of the NCAA sanctions. There is no doubt he is, to quote Carl Paladino, "Mad as hell about it."
This season he has taken his anger out by having one of the most potent offenses in the league headlined by a rising star at quarterback in Matt Barkely. The bad news for Kiffin is the defense has not quite lived up to the standards of years past until yesterday's game against the Golden Bears.
If Kiffin can continue to possess the potent passing attack and gets at least mediocre defense the rest of the NCAA better watch out. Kiffin and the Trojans are coming.