USC Football: Lane Kiffin ranks No. 5 most hated coach, Fair or Foul?


November 26, 2011; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin watches game action against the UCLA Bruins during the second half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

Recently held a poll asking fans to weigh on which coaches they hated the most in college football. Frankly, the results weren’t surprising. Some of the top ten included Jim Tressel, Urban Meyer, Rich Rodriguez, Steve Spurier, and naturally USC’s own Lane Kiffin.

From the piece, here’s what Mark Sclabach summarized about Kiff:

"5. Lane Kiffin: Perhaps no coach in SEC history ticked off more people in less time than Kiffin, who spent the 2009 season at Tennessee before bolting for Southern California. During his one-year tenure with the Volunteers, Kiffin criticized nearly everyone, including then-Florida coach Urban Meyer and Georgia coach Mark Richt. Kiffin even went as far as saying if a player signed with South Carolina, he ended up pumping gas for a living." even went further as to break the coach hate down by conference, and in the Pac-12 Lane Kiffin still ranked number one, edging out Oregon’s Chip Kelly by one vote.

But is the Kiffin hate still necessary?

I mean, sure, after he left USC the first time to coach the Oakland Raiders, his beef with Al Davis was well documented. And yes, when he was the head coach at Tennessee he wasted no time making himself a villain in the SEC, talking mad trash about everyone and not backing it up on the field. But to his credit, he garnered a Top-10 recruiting class for the Vols in his first (and ultimately only) season there, something that hadn’t happened in, like, ever.

When he came to USC, Tennessee seemed like it was going to explode in venomous rage, as they felt (and kind of rightfully so) that Kiffin betrayed them when he jumped ship after only one season. But let’s be real: Why would anyone stay in Tennessee when they have the opportunity to live in and coach football in Southern California?


But after two years at SC, is Coach Kiff really still deserving of being the bad guy?

Our friend Carlos Sandoval over at says absolutely:

I do not think he’s the fifth-most-hated coach in college football, because that’s completely forgetting his professional history. He should be higher. He might’ve gotten a small bump in the list because he’s been living off momentum from USC’s football program after Pete Carroll (ironically, someone else who’d be in this list if he coached college football still) jammed from Downtown LA to escape a world of punishment, all while shutting up and staying away from poor press. Kiffin hasn’t been in the news except for winning football games, but he still has the air of douchebaggery that makes everyone but SC fans (and I’m shocked they don’t feel the same way) want to punch him in the mouth repeatedly and without restraint.

And we shouldn’t forget his past either. Pretty much everyone in the SEC hates him, including his old employer, Tennessee, and for good reason: When you’re talking trash and not winning football games shortly after you were embarrassed by one of the worst owners of the past decade in professional sports (Al Davis), you deserve to be a top-tier villain, and No. 5 is not top-tier. He fell into a hell of a good situation at Southern Cal and he’s slithered his way back into the discussion by using whatever remnants he was left from Carroll’s program.He’s kept a lid on it the past two seasons, but something tells me his arrogance will resurface if SC wins at least 9 games. Or he’ll deflect criticism if his season’s a failure.

This dude’s going to implode, and anticipation should factor in, too.

After the way he helped guide the sinking ship that was USC out of the churning waters of NCAA treachery, Coach Kiffin deserves some credit. He turned a 9-5 team of Pete Carroll’s last year with Troy into a 10-2 team, and he did it all while USC was sanctioned. Sure, he’s not the people-person that Pete Carroll was, but Carroll’s laid back, party-everyday attitude is partly what got USC in the NCAA doghouse in the first place. So a change of pace was necessary, and as of now, it seems like a dose of Lane Kiffin’s no-nonsense, dry, poker face-always-on demeanor is exactly what this team needed.

For now, Lane Kiffin has the key to the city that is Trojan Nation.

But this season he will face something probably even tougher than coaching a team while its sanctioned. Coming off of such an explosive season, USC is expected to go all the way, by fans and analysts alike. As we know, Kiffin is not the most proven guy when it comes to winning, and anything less than a National Championship will be considered a failure by most.

So this will be the year that Lane Kiffin either cements himself firmly into Trojan lore by winning it all (and thus making himself that much more hated by everyone else), or he sees USC fans calling for his head.

Either way, it’s going to be a crazy year for college football’s No. 5 most hated coach of all time.