After the loss to Stanford, some questioned USC head coach Lane Kiffin’s ability to lead this team to the Promised Land. After losses to Arizona, Oregon, and most painfully to Trojan fans and boosters, UCLA, it seemed as if the answer was clear. But in a surprising revelation, Kiffin told the media during his post-game press conference that he will indeed return to coach USC next season, in spite of how this one has turned out.
Per the USC beat writers present for the conference, Kiffin had been assured of his return as the head coach by Pat Haden, possibly prior to Saturday’s game:
Lane Kiffin said he has been assured by USC administration that he will return next season.
— Rich Hammond (@RegisterUSC) November 17, 2012
It’s interesting that he felt the need to make this clear, almost as if he is painfully aware of just how hot the seat beneath him is.
While you could argue that Kiffin needs to go, that would be ignoring how masterfully he helped USC weather the storm and right the ship after being crippled by NCAA sanctions. He recruited top class after top class, getting talent like Nickell Robey, Morgan Breslin, Leonard Williams, Nelson Agholor, and obviously, Marqise Lee among others. He and his dad’s foresight to move Dion Bailey to LB from safety was a huge decision, as it allowed Bailey to flourish and strengthened the LB corps.
Obviously though, this has not been the season anyone expected for a team so filled with talent. Maybe the Trojans have too much talent to be balanced and the lofty expectations were too much for them to handle. Maybe Kiffin could still be a good coach if he had an offensive coordinator, because let’s be honest–who could Pat Haden replace him with as of right now? On the other hand, we have seen coaches get the vote of confidence before and get the axe anyway. Just ask former Lakers’ coach, Mike Brown.
Maybe USC does need to replace Kiffin, but not the one coaching the offense.
There is much more of a case for Monte Kiffin to “retire” than for Lane Kiffin to be fired, as the defense that looks so infallible last season has regressed to the one from 2010. SC has hardly made any defensive adjustments when they have needed to, and the play has just gotten sloppier and less inspiring as the season has worn on.
If Lane Kiffin really is here to stay, then it’s time he and Pat Haden sat down and really discussed how to rectify this tragedy that has been the 2012 season, one that will surely leave lots of business unfinished for a long time.
If Kiffin doesn’t want to go down as the biggest mistake USC has made in recent history, he has no other choice.