Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lane Kiffin Fired on Team Plane

Yet another disappointing Lane Kiffin coaching job comes to an end...
By Joe Parello  @HerewegoJoe

I think most people had accepted than Lane Kiffin getting fired was just going to be one of those pleasant eventualities of the 2013 college football season.

Like Johnny Manziel acting out as soon as he came off his one-half suspension and Georgia losing one early, we pretty much knew this was going to happen.

But, we couldn't have imagined the humiliating way that USC would do it. Now, mind you, Athletic Director Pad Haden recently gave Kiffin the dreaded "vote of confidence," so you knew he was one bad loss away from being out the door. But, after a 21-point road thrashing at the hands of mediocre Arizona State, Kiffin didn't even make it back to campus with his job.

Here is the release from USC.

"[USC AD Pat] Haden informed Kiffin of his termination upon the team charter's arrival back in Los Angeles early Sunday morning following USC's 62-41 loss at Arizona State.

Kiffin's Trojans have lost 7 of their past 11 games. USC is 3-2 this year and has lost both of its Pac-12 games. His overall record in 4 years at USC is 28-15.

Haden will hold a press conference at USC on Sunday afternoon at a time and place to be announced."

That's right, after hiring a man that has done nothing but fail throughout his career, USC was so shocked and appalled that Kiffin was failing miserably, that they fired him on the team plane. Presumably, while he was still on the runway and could use his cell phone, if readily available, but still couldn't unbuckle his seat belt.

USC hopes the firing of Kiffin will close the book on a dark era for the program that saw former standout Reggie Bush stripped of his Heisman Trophy, former coach Pete Carroll bolt for the NFL at the first sign of trouble, and the results on the field sink further and further below the talent level on campus.

Under Kiffin, a supposed offensive guru, the Trojans began the season utterly inept on offense. USC ranked dead last in the Pac 12 in points and yards per game, along with third down conversion rate. All this, coming after a season in which USC debuted at No. 1 in the preseason polls, only to limp to a 7-6 finish that included a blowout loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.

Kiffin was handed the USC job, our No. 1 coaching job in all of football, after a 7-6 year at Tennessee that was noteworthy only for his off-field antics and midnight departure from Knoxville. Prior to that, Kiffin coached less than two years with the NFL's Oakland Raiders, going 5-15 and being fired over the phone by the late Al Davis. The former Raiders owner also called Kiffin a "flat-out liar" and blasted him on the way out the door.

Before the Raiders, Kiffin was the offensive coordinator for one season at USC. The previous four seasons saw Kiffin coach receivers or tight ends in some capacity. While his one season as OC was a good one (Leading the Trojans to the the BCS title game and Reggie Bush winning the Heisman) it was still one season, using the same talent that had won a BCS championship the year prior.

Kiffin has been riding the coattails of that one semi-magical, BCS runner-up campaign for nearly a decade now. The man was a .250 NFL coach and was blown out in both his college bowl opportunities. His only decent season as a head coach came in 2011, when the Trojans were facing NCAA sanctions and he helped lead them to a 10-2 record while the program was ineligible for postseason play.

This firing was a year in the making, and really began when USC failed so miserably with incredible expectations last season. What's next for the Trojans? Well, the one thing Kiffin did well was recruit, so there is plenty of talent in LA, and whoever takes the reigns of the program will inherit a sleeping giant. Remember that Pete Carroll, arguably the greatest coach in school history, was somewhere between choice No.5 and choice No.8 for the job the last time USC held a long coaching search.

So, maybe don't go after the biggest name out there. Find a little more substance than style, and USC could be back to contending for championships in a couple of years.

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