USC Trojans: Will Lane Kiffin Follow in Pete Carroll's Footsteps?

Rick McMahan@@RickMcMahanSenior Writer IMarch 15, 2010

One man leaves the Los Angeles area as a legend to USC fans, the other enters as a pariah to followers of the Tennessee Volunteers.

Before the shock of Pete Carroll leaving the Trojans had worn off, the elation of a Lane Kiffin hiring, at least for most USC football fans, set in.

To be sure, in the annals of Trojan football, the shoes of Pete Carroll will be difficult to fill.

But what about the footsteps of Carroll?

Will Kiffin follow his former mentor in most, if not all, facets of Carroll’s coaching style?

Of course, some will tell you the real story is that Carroll followed in Monte Kiffin’s footsteps, who happens to be Lane's dad.

And Carroll himself would probably agree with that assertion but that is beside the point.

Now that Lane Kiffin has taken over as the lead sled dog at USC, what can we expect in the way of changes from the way Carroll ran the program?

While there will be changes, in fact some have already occurred, it should come as no surprise that by and large, the Trojans will retain the same look and style of their former coach.

As most Trojan fans know, Lane Kiffin was Carroll’s offensive coordinator during the salad days of USC football from 2005 to 2006, so don’t expect much change in that area.

And it is common knowledge that Carroll learned his defensive strategy from Monte Kiffin.

Carroll started as a graduate assistant under Monte Kiffin’s tutelage at Arkansas while Lou Holtz was head coach in 1977.

Carroll then served as defensive coordinator under the elder Kiffin at North Carolina State from 1980-82.

It was those stints where Pete Carroll learned the “Cover 2” defense, which he will employ in Seattle.

This is the same defense that the Trojans will run for Lane Kiffin, in addition to other standard sets. However, this is not to say that things will remain exactly the same in how Lane and Monte Kiffin approach things in terms of personnel.

In fact, just this week a major shakeup in the linebacking corps was revealed.

Devon Kennard, who started as a defensive end as a freshman and then was moved to the “Sam” or outside linebacker position at the end of the season, will now be tried at middle linebacker.

What this says about the status of last year’s starting middle linebacker, Chris Galippo, remains to be seen, but suffice it to say when Lane Kiffin said all jobs would be “open” for spring practice, he wasn’t kidding.

How about the finer points in coaching philosophy?

Will Lane Kiffin show a thirst for going for it on 4th-and-2 like Carroll did?

Almost certainly he will. He did it at Tennessee and there is no indication that this will change at USC.

What about the fervor of USC practices? Will there be a continuation of Carroll’s “tell the truth Mondays, competition Tuesdays,” and so forth?

Expect that this will also continue, although coach Kiffin might dress those days up with different names.

What about Lane Kiffin and the media? Will he be as “embraceable” as Carroll was? Probably not. But then again, who is?

Lane Kiffin is comfortable with the media, perhaps more so than most coaches, but for the media, there is only one Pete Carroll, which should gladden the hearts of those beat writers up in the Pacific Northwest.

And what about that ogre at Stanford? Will Lane Kiffin continue the feud with Jim Harbaugh that was just now starting to get really nasty?

Probably not.

At least not until Harbaugh steps on Kiffin’s foot. Then it’s game on baby.

Kiffin has already shown he won’t back down from anyone and this will continue if Harbaugh has the temerity to cross Kiffin’s path.

It can also be expected that Lane Kiffin will not harness his offense in a lopsided game if it will benefit the Trojans.

For Lane Kiffin, like Pete Carroll, it is all about getting better every week and competing to be the best you can be.

It should also be expected that Lane Kiffin will also continue with Carroll’s philanthropic activities, although perhaps not right away.

Lane Kiffin cares about this community and this was evident in his stint as offensive coordinator for Carroll.

In the final analysis, much of what Carroll leaves behind here in the southland will be continued by Lane Kiffin.

One thing that won’t continue with Lane Kiffin is the yearly concerns that he will leave the Trojan’s for NFL riches.

For Trojan fans, the only thing as certain as death and taxes would be the yearly speculation as to whether or not Pete would leave the Trojans for his unfinished business at the next level.

Every year the question would be posed to Carroll and every year he would say something nice like, “no, this is my dream job.”

For Lane Kiffin, this really is his dream job and Trojan fans should have no reason to doubt him.

Kiffin’s stint in the NFL left a bad taste in his mouth and when he says he is better suited to the college game, USC fans should believe him.

And if Coach Kiffin approaches the success of Carroll, then Trojan fans won’t have to play the annual “will he stay or will he go” game.

That, in and of itself, should make fans of the Trojans very happy.


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