Since Lane Kiffin’s arrival at USC in 2010, he’s been watched with a critical eye and held accountable for any negativity associated with the USC football program, both fairly and unfairly.
When Matt Barkley made a wrong read and threw an interception, Kiffin was accused of calling the wrong play.
When a recruit reneged on his commitment to USC, Kiffin was viewed as not being able to close the deal.
When the 2012 team instituted cardinal and goal socks as part of its uniform and ended with a 7-6 record, Kiffin was blamed for having the audacity to change from traditional white socks, which were changed back in 2011 to black.
Clearly, a large portion of the criticism thrown in Kiffin’s direction is a direct result of the success and tradition Pete Carroll brought back to Trojan football.
Well Kiffin detractors, it’s time to give him praise. Earlier this week Kiffin unexpectedly awarded defensive back Josh Shaw with a change to a jersey donned with No. 6, honoring a request Shaw made in spring of 2012.
While some may believe Kiffin granting Shaw with the number change is a result of Shaw’s interception and subsequent return for a touchdown in the Trojans’ season opening win, the reasoning runs much deeper.
Granting Shaw’s request to wear No. 6 speaks volumes of Kiffin’s appreciation for the body of work and leadership Shaw has assembled while at USC, which Kiffin touched on after Wednesday’s practice.
Let’s remember this is the same peson who only months into his head coaching career at USC no longer allowed wide receiver De’Von Flurnoy and former corner back T.J. Bryant to wear No. 1.
In his eyes they weren’t living up to the standards former All-American wide receiver Mike Williams set forth.
Some of the criticism Kiffin has faced has been fairly brought about by his own actions, and he’s the first to admit that.
What’s important is Kiffin gets USC. He knows what’s expected and he’s already proven he is capable of leading the team — the 10-2 record in 2011 wasn’t that long ago.
In a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sport, people often forget that season and Kiffin mysteriously isn’t given any credit for the role he played.
Kiffin is capable of moving the team in the right direction regardless of what color socks players wear or the number on their jersey.
Here’s a novel idea, let’s give credit necessary, and criticize him when appropriate.
After all, this may be his final season with the Trojans.