9 Reasons USC Doesn't Need to Replace Lane Kiffin

Bill NCorrespondent INovember 3, 2011

9 Reasons USC Doesn't Need to Replace Lane Kiffin

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    USC Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin is very young at 36-years-old and will only get better. However, the media loves to put a negative spin on him and some fans want him replaced, although they are getting fewer.

    Many Trojan fans believe that he has done an excellent job considering the NCAA sanctions, prohibition of two bowl games, junior and senior transfers and negative recruiting losses.

    Bleacher Report USC Featured Columnist Rick McMahan wrote the “10 Best Lane Kiffin Moments” detailing with some of this young coach’s accomplishments.

    On Tuesday, I wrote “7 Potential Lane Kiffin Replacements” at the request of B/R.

    Here are the nine reasons why that is unnecessary and USC fans should be happy with their football coach.

9. No Top Coach Wants the Challenge of 30 Scholarship Reductions

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    USC faces scholarship reductions of 10 per year from 2012 to 2014, with no more than 75 total scholarship players each year.

    USC students may proclaim the “My 75 is better than your 85,” but no team wants this competitive disadvantage.

    Top coaches know that they are judged on win-loss records, so they won’t take the job until the sanctions end.

    The USC administration knows this and would be foolish to replace the head coach during this

8. Another Coaching Change Will Impact Players and Team Performance

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    As was the case when Kiffin and his coaching staff took over, it will take a new coach and his staff a year to get to know the players and their talent. This will likely mean a down first year

    Any improvements would not show up until at least the second year.

    Players would have to adjust to the new coaching staff, scheme changes and the uncertainty of the situation.

    USC players have already been through too much with the NCAA sanctions and a coaching staff change.

7. Develops NFL Players

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    USC had the most players drafted by the NFL in 2010.

    The USC pro style offense and defense, talented athletes, and coaches with a mixture of college and NFL experience all contribute to this accomplishment.

    USC is the No. 1 NFL football factory.  Lane Kiffin and his coaching staff know how to develop NFL players.  That is one of the reasons for their success in recruiting top athletes.

    Many other college coaches care only about winning college games, and develop schemes that do not help players reach their NFL goals.  Usually these schemes work for a while until other teams adjust and counteract them.

    Kiffin certainly cares about winning, but his strategy is to recruit the best athletes who seek the NFL and give them the experience to make it happen. 

    This is a good plan for the long term.  It is consistent with the USC track record of playing the better teams. 

    The Trojans are one of three football teams who have never played below the NCAA Division IA level.  USC plays the other two teams (UCLA and Notre Dame) every year.

6. Handling Sanctions Well

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    Imagine you are 34-years-old and take over as the head coach of a top college football program. 

    Five months later, your football program receives the second harshest sanctions in college football history primarily for violations of one football player who dealt with outside third parties 130 miles from campus.

    Shortly thereafter, your athletic director is replaced and the largest compliance organization in college sports is created. 

    In spite of all this, expectations for success continue to be high.  You discover that there is not much depth on your football team due to lack of scholarship players caused by smaller recruiting classes and the NCAA “free agent” sanction.

    This would be a good time to lower expectations and blame everything on the sanctions and prior head coach.

    Lane Kiffin has never done this. He is realistic about the challenges during the next few years. However, his goal remains to win every game.

    He has made it clear to the players that they can only worry about things they control. 

    Kiffin worked with his coaching staff to redshirt most of the 2010 recruiting class to better position the team for the future scholarship reductions.  This was done even though there was a severe lack of depth in 2010, and it probably cost the Trojans some victories.

    He developed a recruiting strategy to take advantage of USC's NCAA appeal and build depth in the 2011 recruiting class.

    Kiffin has also instilled a team-oriented philosophy with discipline for even the best athletes. 

5. Respected by Those Who Matter

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    Kiffin is respected by his players and their families, the USC administration (especially Pat Haden and his point man J.K. McKay), and his coaching staff.  Great players and coaches will go where they are loved and cared for, and have the opportunities to succeed. 

    Kiffin is very forthright.  At USC he has been respectful (treats people with dignity), reliable (faithful and loyal) and relational (listens and helps players develop).

    His success at recruiting and putting together an outstanding coaching staff could not be done without these qualities.

    USC AD Pat Haden has repeatedly supported Kiffin.  He has praised his performance dealing with the sanctions and his compliance with NCAA rules.

    USC Heisman Trophy winner and NFL Hall of Famer Marcus Allen talked to me about Kiffin.  He likes him and expects great things. 

    And so do the USC players, coaches, administration and fans.

4. Young Head Coach Will Only Get Better

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    Lane Kiffin turned 36 in May.  He has already been the head coach of the Oakland Raiders (youngest NFL coach in history at 31) and Tennessee Volunteers (youngest Division I active coach at 33).

    Kiffin has not been a big winner as a head coach yet, after enjoying tremendous success as an assistant coach at USC from 2001-2006. He does, however, have a record of improving teams.

    Kiffin is 6-2 so far this season and it appears that 9-3 is a realistic finish, although Trojan fans would love to see the team win out.

    The team improvement seen in the last three games with convincing victories against California and Notre Dame and a very close three-OT loss against No. 4* Stanford shows that the program is moving in the right direction despite the difficult circumstances.

    The inexperienced team with freshmen composing about half the scholarship players is getting better each week and has become a team to be feared in the Pac-12. Kiffin and his coaching staff have shown they can develop young players.

    He was 8-5 at USC in 2010 after inheriting a team on the decline from Pete Carroll and the worst NCAA sanctions since SMU.  Three of the losses were due to one play (and the help of a Stanford clock operator).

    He never had more than 57 scholarship players suit up for a game with as few as 51. Lack of depth killed the Trojans in the fourth quarter all season, especially in later games when injuries were also an issue.

    Kiffin improved Tennessee to 7-6 in his one season and increased the offensive output by 60 per cent.

    The Oakland Raiders job was an anomaly due to Al Davis, and Kiffin was proven correct about JaMarcus Russell after he was drafted first and used at quarterback, and then released on May 6, 2010.  While Kiffin’s 5-15 record was not great, it was better than the 2-14 record the previous year.

    Kiffin’s tenure at USC shows that he is learning as a head coach and will only get better. 

3. Loves USC – Dream Job

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    Kiffin loves USC and his dream job as the head football coach.  The USC job has been rated in the top five of college football.

    He could not be better motivated to succeed in the long term, and he won’t make the mistake that previous USC coaches John McKay, John Robinson and Pete Carroll made by leaving for the NFL.

    The USC administration knew Kiffin very well based on his six years as a Trojan assistant coach (2001-2006), and selected him to replace Carroll for many of the same reasons detailed in this article.

    Kiffin and his staff are dedicated to getting USC back on the National Championship track, and they will get it done sooner than most people expect.

2. Coaching Staff

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    An outstanding head coach must have an outstanding coaching staff.  The primary reason that Pete Carroll’s USC teams fell off in 2008 and 2009 was due to a loss of talented coaches (Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron, and Steve Sarkisian).

    Lane Kiffin has assembled a very experienced coaching staff with both NFL and collegiate experience.  Many are former successful USC coaches. They are excellent at recruiting, developing players, and offensive and defensive schemes.

    Kiffin brought several outstanding coaches with him to USC.  They include:

    Former USC assistant Ed Orgeron (Defensive and Recruiting Coordinator/Defensive Line) with 26 years coaching experience who returned after three years as the head coach at Mississippi and stops at the New Orlean Saints and Tennessee Volunteers

    Father Monte Kiffin (Assistant Head Coach – Defense) who is one of the game’s best defensive minds with 45 years of coaching experience at the collegiate and NFL levels

    James Cregg (Offensive Line) after 13 years coaching at the collegiate and NFL levels

    Former USC assistant Aaron Ausmus (Strength and Conditioning) who returned after tours at Idaho, Mississippi, North Texas, and Tennessee.

    Other coaches include: John Baxter, Joe Barry, Ted Gilmore, Kennedy Polamalu, Clay Helton, Sammy Knight and Justin Mesa (Tight Ends).

1. Recruiting

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    Lane Kiffin and his coaching staff led by Recruiting Coordinator Ed Orgeron have done an outstanding job of recruiting in 2010 and 2011.  In spite of the worst sanctions since SMU, the Trojans enjoyed top five recruiting classes both years.  

    The primary challenge for 2010 was keeping the top-ranked recruiting class together after Pete Carroll left and the harsh NCAA sanctions were announced in June 2010.  For the most part this was done except for two signed athletes who were released after the surprising sanctions.

    The 2011 recruiting class focused on positions of greatest need and took full advantage of the USC appeal of NCAA sanctions to sign a class of 31 including eight early enrollees.  One athlete failed to qualify academically and was released and another decided to grey shirt after a season ending injury.

    This Top 4 recruiting class has given the Trojans needed depth heading into three years of NCAA scholarship reductions.

    Orgeron was named the 2011 Scout.com/FOXSports.com National Recruiter of the year and ESPNU/ESPN The Magazine top recruiter in college football.

    The Trojans have a challenging 2012 recruiting class due to the NCAA limits and Kiffin has to be very selective.  However, there are four or five early enrollee slots that could help.  Currently there are 11 verbal commitments.  The positions of greatest need are the offensive and defensive lines and USC is positioned to do very well with a strong class in these positions.

    Some people feel that anyone can recruit the top athletes to USC. Well, that was not the case during much of the 1980s and 1990s. USC didn’t have to deal with the second harshest sanctions in the history of college football either.

    A coaching change would likely impact many recruits who were sold on the coaches as well as the school.

    A top college head coach has to be a great recruiter and Kiffin is one of the best.