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USC battled No. 4 (AP) Stanford only to lose by a fumble in the 3rd OT. The Trojans played well and should have won except for a few mistakes.
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.