What Kiffin’s Hiring Says About USC

Bobby Curran
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Friday - January 20, 2010
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Vijay Singh was among the world’s top players in the Sony

USC’s hiring of Lane Kiffin following the departure of Pete Carroll says more about USC than it does about Lane Kiffin. Kiffin is the son of legendary NFL defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. He grew up seeing his father live the itinerant life of most football coaches. Kiffin had no particular loyalty to Tennessee, other than its logo on his paycheck. Kiffin has a reputation for being brash, arrogant and confrontational. He took on Raiders owner Al Davis and had alienated many of the head coaches in the Southeastern Conference.

That he would discard the Vols like a used candy wrapper shouldn’t have surprised anyone. What Kiffin had proven was he can build an efficient college football machine very quickly. He got Tennessee to a bowl game in his first year, and the Volunteers were about to enjoy a banner recruiting year. He also assembled proven assistant coaches like Ed Orgeron, which explains USC’s willingness to pull the trigger quickly on the hiring. Many thought Pete Carroll would be with the Trojans for a long time, but there was always the lure of the NFL when he’d had only marginal results in two stints in New England and New York.


There also was the possible NCAA crack-down resulting from the Reggie Bush investigation. The surprise to me is that USC would choose a maverick like Kiffin, who began to accrue secondary NCAA violations within months of his arrival in Knoxville and who had recruited three players who were arrested in Knoxville for armed robbery. Considering the recent allegations concerning USC running back Joe McKnight, you might have thought the Trojans would have gone after some squeaky-clean coach to send a message to the NCAA. Instead, the message seems to be: Hey, NCAA, this isn’t Cleveland State you’re messing with. We’re USC, one of the real traditional powers. We’ll do it our way, and just remember, if you’re thinking of slamming us, we’ll get the best legal talent money can buy. And don’t forget how your recent forays into the legal system have worked out. If you take us on, you’d better bring your A game.

Let’s not overlook that AD Mike Garrett is the man who hired Tim Floyd, a basketball coach with a reputation of riding very close to the ethical edge. He was the architect of the OJ Mayo scandal.

Apparently, there have been few lessons learned by the Trojans.

The wonderful field for the Sony Open couldn’t have come at a better time.

With so may tournament sponsorships up for grabs in an uncertain economy, the Sony Open put its best foot forward and should lead to a new commitment for the PGA in Hawaii. The two weeks of postcards from Hawaii represented by the SBS on Maui and the Sony at Waialae are an invaluable boost to Hawaii tourism

The PGA should put more pressure on it star players to participate in all tour events on a rotational basis. It would have been nice to see Phil Mickelson here, and eventually an appearance by you-know-who.

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