Sunday, 29 September 2013

USC fires Lanke Kiffin after embarrassing loss

Matt Kartozian/USA Today Sports
USC has fired embattled head coach Lane Kiffin following last night's 62-41 loss to Arizona State. Kiffin was practically fired during the game as USC President Max Nikias and Athletic Director Pat Haden met on the USC sideline during the second half of last night's game and decided to depose Kiffin during Arizona State's 28-0 second half run. Yes, we were that close to seeing a coach handed a pink slip and being escorted from the sideline during a game. USC officials practically went out of their way to embarrass Kiffin by pulling him off the team bus at LAX and firing him in sight of the players. The move is certainly not a surprise, at least if you listened to me and ignored that ridiculous video Haden put out over the summer defending Kiffin. The timing of this move makes perfect sense also as USC heads into a bye week and will now have 12 days to move on from Kiffin and install an interim coach (sounds like it will be defensive line coach Ed Orgeron but I haven't seen anything official yet).

There are a few things to take away from this. First is that Kiffin got what he deserved. He landed the best job in America, inherited a top 10 caliber team and drove it straight into the ground. He was surly with the media, he lied to people's faces, he attempted to have multiple USC beat writers barred from university grounds after they criticized him, he tried to cheat to beat Oregon last year, and he utterly failed to recruit and develop a quarterback who could replace Matt Barkley. The second is that you never want to replace a legend. Kiffin was behind the eight ball from the beginning by trying to replace Pete Carroll. Kiffin was hardly USC's first choice back in 2010 and a lot of people avoided the USC job because they didn't want to come in after Carroll. It's easy to be the guy who replaced the failure who followed the legend so USC should be able to land it's top target this time around.

Thirdly, you can't take a word Pat Haden says seriously. I have never seen an AD give such an impassioned and iron clad defense of a coach and then fire him so quickly. Other coaches know about that video and will be turned off by how badly Haden threw Kiffin under the bus after Haden professed Kiffin to be his best friend. Haden's little side show will prevent a few top candidates from considering the job. Finally, the USC players will have a weight lifted of them. It was painfully obvious in last year's Sun Bowl that the Trojans had quit on Kiffin and their body language and the way they have reacted to him on the sideline this year was almost depressing to watch. Every day since last November the players have had to answer questions about Kiffin and wonder if this is the day he was fired. Now that Kiffin is out, they can just play and relax a little bit.

I was shocked Kiffin survived last season when he took a preseason number one team and ended up 7-6. Kiffin went into this season with a hotter seat than I can ever remember seeing and now he is out of work with a winning record on the year. When Kiffin called for a halfback pass out of a wildcat formation on 4th and 2 from his own 41 in the 3rd quarter, I thought it was arguably the worst play call I had ever seen. Now that I know Kiffin had already been fired when it happened, it may have been Kiffin crying out for mercy and a chance to get off that sideline and away from USC as quickly as possible.

Don't feel too bad for Kiffin, he is a jerk who is sleeping in the grave he dug but more importantly he will be paid a nice hefty buyout. Kiffin has also proven himself as a recruiter (at least outside the QB position) and will have no problem landing a cushy offensive coordinator/recruiting coordinator gig. I'll have a lot more on this later today and in the week to come but for now, USC fans can celebrate because the wicked witch is dead. The rest of the Pac-12 will sit in melancholy knowing that USC might have a chance to rise back to prominence.

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