Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lane Kiffin Deflates Air Out of USC

If the late Al Davis were alive today, he’d feel vindicated and like he’s the world’s smartest person. The more it’s brought to our attention, the more fans learn the truth about Lane Kiffin, the second-year coach at USC, whose bizarre play calling and methods have smudged the Trojans’ national title aspirations.

With five losses this season, it’s hard to trust Kiffin, and his father, Monte, who is USC defensive coordinator. Whether they are athletic director Pat Haden’s guys or not, the Kiffins don’t deserve merit or applause for sabotaging the beauty of a prestigious and distinguished program that a multitude of Southern Californians marvel for its history of triumph, names and Heisman trophy winners. The Kiffins aren’t the centerpieces of the USC culture, just a step backwards, which could very well turn into a dilemma.

It was conceived that Lane and Monte are unfitted for demanding coaching jobs, a more notable and respected athletic program, where expectations are immense. The perception of the Trojans suddenly fading into the background is real, with no standards like before when USC used to be the powerhouses of college football, and weren’t vulnerable or substandard. Fact is, the Trojans are standing by someone who has proven he cannot coach an elite program, which is now on decline. This is something USC fans, students, faculty and alumni are not all too familiar with, but in the post-Carroll era, the Men of Troy are hurting without a first-rate coach who has an acute understanding on how to groom an attractive program inured to triumph and accumulating bowl titles.

Haden is absolutely serious about Kiffin returning next season. But what about your program, Haden? What about protecting the school, and not someone who had familiarity with the university under the tutelage of Pete Carroll from 2001-2006? What about keeping a winning team intact, and not caring so much about Kiffin’s recruiting brilliance, needing Ed Orgeron by his side to lure a top recruiting class?

Through it all, Haden assures Kiffin that he will return regardless of the Trojans (No. 18 BCS, No. 21 AP) finishing 7-5, after entering the season ranked No. 1 in the AP poll. For so long, the Trojans have been on top of the mountain. The tale of this storied program is something many would prefer not to tell when USC lost to Stanford, Arizona, Oregon and UCLA, three of those losses in the past month. Of course, no one ever saw this coming, since the Trojans were projected to contend for a national title, with all their talent, athleticism and depth. Unlike UCLA or Notre Dame, USC was devoid of Rose Bowl consideration, after an embarrassing loss to UCLA, which sent the Bruins to the Pac-12 title game Nov. 30.

The man who was hired to clean up the mess and purge all of the scummy violations is counting on Kiffin to change the culture and guide the Trojans to the promise land, failing to realize that he’s deflating just as fast as a football, quickly exposing himself to unfavorable judgment. The man who was brought on board to clean house is allowing Kiffin to demolish USC, and ride another season of hell and torture. The truth of the matter is, Haden is smarter than that, and should know better, who was once a Rhodes scholar and is a retired NFL quarterback. The bottom line is, Kiffin is a cheater and failure on so many levels.

In all seriousness, Kiffin wasn’t ever coaching material, although he worked in the shadows of one of the greats in NCAA history. And the longer he’s in Los Angeles, the faster the program will submerge under his watch. Bad as his past is, bad as his reputation is, Kiffin cannot be trusted, not anytime soon, not ever. If USC looks to move forward, they’ll have to divorce Kiffin and both parties would have to go their separate ways.

Until then, the Trojans won’t succeed with Kiffin on the sideline calling ill-advised plays and exploiting weird schemes, which gives him and his father bad names, as the vast majority are impatient and outraged hoping to run the Kiffins out of town. The most hated person in college football, undoubtedly, is easily Kiffin. From Knoxville to Los Angeles, Kiffin has encountered a tremendous amount of hatred and seems unwanted at every institution in the US of A. The spotlight placed on Lame Kiffin, the most scorned person at USC, is too much — and not once this season did Kiffin take responsibility for this team’s suffering, long suffering – to be exact.

He is not a hero in the sense of reviving a program, but a saboteur of some sort and a con artist whom we’d like to see disappear into the darkened clouds of his own allegations from the past, and never step foot on campus ever again. It’s utterly repugnant that he ignored NCAA rules at Tennessee, where Kiffin was cited by the NCAA for his involvement in coaches and student hostesses making improper contacts with recruits. For a long time, he was in people’s heads, beating and abusing the system, just what he had in mind. As a scumbag with no morals and no sense of integrity for the game, Kiffin violated the rules as if he was above the law, arrogant and reckless during the NCAA investigations, which led to another boneheaded action.

That was when he forayed into the Tennessee Titans and hired running backs coach Kennedy Pola as his offensive coordinator, without getting permission from Titans then-head coach Jeff Fisher. For much of his coaching career, Kiffin has been a sneaky, untrustworthy person who’s out to create mishap and play loose with the rules that enables him to behave impolitely and wrongly, which usually results in infractions. What we can take away from Kiffin’s arrogance and self-indulgence, along with his lack of awareness and concern about an institution, is the fact that he refuses to consult the rulebook and just go about it his way.

Kiffin, from the first day, was never the guy for USC when, in fact, he was hired by ex-athletic director, Mike Garrett, another former Trojan football legend, leaving USC in an absolute mess and tarnishing his legacy with a reputation as the worst sham in college athletics. The humiliating 22-13 loss to Notre Dame on Saturday night marked the first time since 1995 that the Trojans were swept by their rivals. So now there’s blame on Kiffin, which seems accurate with his play calling in critical situations.

The criticism of Kiffin is understandable, after failing to call timeouts after two runs were stopped in the Notre Dame game and after he didn’t signal for a timeout in a goal-line situation early in the game, which might’ve taken away a touchdown pass. Kiffin, who has more enemies than friends, is blamed for the Trojans disappointing season because of his dumb mistakes and clock management issues. This is something the Trojans don’t need, because the fall from grace has been horrendous, particularly when they could and should have beaten the unbeaten Irish Saturday.

While USC could have smeared No. 1 Notre Dame from playing for its first national championship in 24 years, the Irish celebrated on the field in Los Angeles and finally had bragging rights over USC, with the versatility of Everett Golson, championship-building guru Brian Kelly and senior linebacker Manti Te’o. The Trojans talent was unlimited, with Marqise Lee and Robert Woods of a lethal USC receiving core, along with Matt Barkley, who the Trojans missed on Saturday night. The injured quarterback was replaced by redshirt freshman Max Wittek, who had a solid debut. He completed 14 of 23 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions, but it certainly wasn’t good enough to end the Irish’s hopes.

And so the Trojans lacks leadership and have a lethargic, futile and flawed defense. But the bigger issue here is Kiffin, folks. It won’t get any better for USC, until Haden realizes that he’s essentially not made to be a coach. For his career, he is a staggering 37-32 as a head coach with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Volunteers and USC. It sounds like Kiffin can only beat unranked opponents, and loses to top-ranked opponents. That’s become his trait, and it’s a bad trait.

As long as Haden calls Kiffin his guy, well, then, expect the worst.