USC Football: 10 Best Lane Kiffin Moments

Rick McMahan@@RickMcMahanSenior Writer IMay 10, 2011

USC Football: 10 Best Lane Kiffin Moments

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    For a young coach, Lane Kiffin has experienced a lot of highs and lows.

    From the exultation of winning national championships to the grief of being ignominiously fired, Kiffin has seen and felt things that coaches many years older will never know.

    Interestingly, in some cases, Kiffin's bad times turned out to be good fortunes as you shall see later.

    Overall, he has had more good times than bad, and while the name "Lane Kiffin" evokes much dislike, especially in SEC country, here in the Los Angeles southland he is mostly embraced. Trojan fans feel grateful that he is steering the cardinal and gold's future fortunes.

    The following slideshow will look at some of the best moments thus far in his short career.

    Not all of these moments occurred on the football field, and some have little to do with his coaching ability.

    But to be certain, they all led to where Kiffin is now and where Trojan fans hope he will lead their beloved team in future.

No. 10: USC Beats Iowa 38-17 in the 2002 Orange Bowl

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    In Lane Kiffin's steady climb up the USC ladder, the 2002 season saw him as the wide receivers coach for Pete Carroll.

    It was in this season that the Trojans began their meteoric climb to the top of the mountain in college football prominence.

    And young coach Kiffin was there to coach the unit that Carson Palmer, the eventual Heisman trophy winner, would throw to.

    And what a unit it was.

    That team had a trio of marvelous wideouts, including Kareem Kelly, Keary Colbert and the man among boys, Mike Williams.

    Though that team started slow, only posting a 3-2 record after five games, they would go on to win their last eight in a row, including a dominant 38-17 win over a darned good Kirk Ferentz-led Iowa team in the 2002 Orange Bowl.

    The Trojans would go on to finish fifth in the country, and Lane Kiffin would get a taste of what winning a big bowl game was like.

No. 9: USC Beats Michigan 28-14 in the 2003 Rose Bowl

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    Though Kareem Kelly left the Trojans due to graduation, Lane Kiffin still had a lot of talent to work with.

    Mike Williams and Keary Colbert were still around, and now they were joined by a young freshman named Steve Smith.

    However, Carson Palmer had also moved on to NFL riches, and the Trojans were breaking in a new, unproven quarterback, Matt Leinart.

    As we all know now, they didn't miss a beat.

    After going 10-1 in the regular season, the Trojans obliterated Michigan in the Rose Bowl 28-14 in a game that wasn't as close as the final score would indicate.

    When all was said and done, the Trojans finished first in the AP, and Lane Kiffin padded his resume.

No. 8: Kiffin Talks Dad, Orgeron and Others into Going to USC with Him

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    When the Trojans hired Lane Kiffin to be their new head coach after Pete Carroll left in 2009, they weren't just getting a young promising coach.

    They were getting a dynamic, ready-made staff.

    Included among them was Lane's dad Monte, who has been considered a defensive genius for his years as an innovator in the NFL.

    And they were getting back Ed Orgeron, perhaps the most dynamic recruiter in the country and a hell of a defensive line coach.

    Combine those with the other great coaches that Kiffin brought with him from Tennessee, and you can see why this was indeed a fine Lane Kiffin moment.

    Trojan fans would heartily agree.

No. 7: Kiffin Wins First Game as Head Coach of the Tennessee Volunteers

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    Okay, maybe as games go, this won't be considered a classic by anyone.

    After all, Lane Kiffin's first win as the Volunteer head coach was a 63-7 blowout against a very overmatched Western Kentucky team.

    But it did represent Kiffin's first win leading a college team, and for that alone it has to make his top 10 moments.

    Although he would only stay one year at Rocky Top, he would improve the Vols to a 7-6 record after Philip Fulmer's dismal exit performance of 5-7 the year before.

    But in that one year Kiffin managed to piss off almost everyone in SEC country and topped it off by jilting the Vols and returning to USC.

    Sounds like a shining Kiffin moment to me...

No. 6: Lane Kiffin Is Hired at USC (First Time Around)

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    A little background information here...

    When Pete Carroll was a coach in the NFL, his mentor was Monte Kiffin.

    Then Carroll got hired by the Trojans in 2001 and when Lane Kiffin became available that same year, Carroll hired the young coach, later promoting him to wide receivers coach in 2002.

    Little did anyone guess back then that this hire would help the Trojans' fortunes off and on for the next decade.

    Now Kiffin is the Trojans head coach, and Trojan fans expect big things from him as they move forward from the mess that Reggie Bush left them.

    But it all started 10 years ago when Carroll hired an unknown young coach probably as a favor to his dad more than anything.

    Funny how fate works out, eh?

No. 5: USC Beats Hawaii 49-36 for Kiffin's First Win as Trojan Head Coach

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    It's September 2, 2010 at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, and Lane Kiffin is pissed.

    The Trojans defense has been sloppy all game long, and the Rainbow Warriors are slicing them up like nobody's business.

    When it's all over, all Kiffin can do is shake his head and lament the fact that the defense has such a long, long way to go.

    However, in hindsight, it turned out that Hawaii was a pretty good team after all.

    Nonetheless, USC's defense was indeed pretty horrible too, and Kiffin saw early what Trojan fans would come to see later on when the rose-colored glasses began to fog.

    Yet, it was a win and more than that, it was Kiffin's first win as the Trojans head coach.

    And for that alone it makes this top-10 list.

No. 4: Lane Kiffin Replaces Norm Chow as Trojan Offensive Coordinator

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    In 2005 Pete Carroll replaced Norm Chow with Lane Kiffin as USC's offensive coordinator.

    In his stint as the Trojan OC, all Kiffin did was go 23-3. In 2005, the Trojans set records by averaging 49.1 points and 579 yards per game.

    Now, before I get comments correcting me, I know that the NCAA stripped USC of all of its wins for the 2005 year.

    I just choose not to acknowledge its actions for reasons known by all true Trojan fans.

    It was as the Trojan offensive coordinator where Lane Kiffin really made his reputation (you know, the one before all the haters) and Trojan fans will always remember 2005 fondly.

    And that's something the NCAA can't strip any USC fan of.

No. 3: The 2005 BCS Title Game: USC 55, Oklahoma 19

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    As stated in the prior slide, this author chooses not to acknowledge the incompetence that is the NCAA.

    Okay, now that we have that out of the way, how could the Trojans' demolishing of the Sooners not make the top three of his all-time best moments?

    In a game that was tabbed basically as a "pick em," the reality was this game was anything but.

    Matt Leinart had a field day, the Trojans ran the ball at will and when push came to shove, the Trojans defense rose to the occasion.

    And Lane Kiffin's offensive game plan was brilliant.

    This game will always be a shining moment for Lane Kiffin.

    Regardless of what the NCAA says.

No. 2: Kiffin Is Fired as the Oakland Raiders Head Coach

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    On September 30, 2008, Al Davis fired Lane Kiffin, his Raider head coach, via a telephone call.

    Typically, getting fired would be a dark day for anyone. But not in this case.

    Being released from working for a doddering old fool, a man whose time has long since passed, should be a cause for celebration for any person hoping to maintain a semblance of their sanity.

    And so it was for Kiffin.

    Now he may not admit it, but Kiffin was miserable during his time in Oakland.

    Stifled by Davis' antics, shackled by his constant meddling, Kiffin was not allowed to make the Raiders his own team.

    And both he and the Raiders suffered for it.

    When that phone call came, Kiffin was set free and along with that liberation, he was allowed to pursue a far clearer path in his vocation.

    Make no mistake about it, working for Al Davis is no way to further one's career.

    Don't believe me?

    Ask Tom Cable.

No. 1: Kiffin Is Hired as the Trojans Head Coach

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    One door closes, another opens.

    After Kiffin was shown that door by Al Davis, he soon was hired by Tennessee to be its head coach.

    Kiffin said all the right things (for the most part) and tried his best to return the Volunteers to glory.

    But his heart was elsewhere.

    When Pete Carroll left the Trojans for reasons only truly known to him (some USC fans have their own suspicions for why he left, but that is another story), Kiffin saw an opportunity to return to a place where he knew nothing but success.

    So he jumped at it.

    And the Trojans welcomed him back with open arms.

    On January 12, 2010, Kiffin was named head coach at USC, and his career had come full circle.

    He said that the USC head coach position was his "dream job," and Trojan fans, the vast majority at least, are glad he got it.

    Now if only Vol fans can get over it...


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    Lane Kiffin has had many fine moments in football, and he will surely have more.

    Trojan fans hope that the slides featured here are just a hint of what future slideshows will exhibit.

    Specifically, these fans of the men of Troy hope, no, expect that Kiffin will deliver multiple national championships to them.

    Whether or not this occurs is anyone's guess of course.

    But what is certain is that if this does indeed happen, a reshuffling of Kiffin's best moments would certainly be in order.

    And that No. 1 slide might be in jeopardy...