The other shoe has finally dropped as USC fired Lane Kiffin after a 62-41 loss to Pac-12 rival Arizona State. The loss put the Troans at 0-2 in the conference and 3-2 overall. USC athletic director Pat Haden said the firing would take effect immediately. Kiffin had lost seven of his last 11 games after going 24-8 in his first 32.
Kiffin compiled a 28-15 record in Los Angeles and his tenure was disappointing to say the least. He is the son of legendary defensive coordinator and current Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. This isn’t the first time that the younger Kiffin has been dismissed in the middle of a season as the Oakland Raiders fired him in the middle of 2008 season.
Kiffin then landed on his feet at the University of Tennessee. (Some say he left under unsavory circumstances.) The young coach was the talk of the town. (Lil’ Wayne even gave the coach a shout out in one of his songs.) The Trojans came into the 2012 season with a lot of hype as they were named the AP preseason number one. However, the Trojans and much-hyped quarterback Matt Barkley faltered to a disappointing 7-6 campaign culminating in a blowout loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.
He was really put on the hot seat after a disastrous 10-7 loss to Washington State three weeks ago. Kiffin was in trouble after that but managed to get wins against Utah State (it wasn’t easy) and route of Boston College.
Some wonder why Kiffin struggled in So Cal. Some think his coaching style caused problems. Some think it was the after effects of the Reggie Bush scandal that reduced scholarships for the Trojan football program. (Which USC tried to get some of the penalties rescinded, but were denied by the NCAA.) They still have to deal with the sanctions for the next couple of years. Ultimately it came down to recruiting. The top five to top 10 recruiting classes that came in under Pete Carroll dropped to 63rd according to some services.
Some say the firing was cold-blooded and should’ve waited until after the season or at least halfway through conference play. Recruits really played into the firing of Kiffin as ESPN’s Shelley Smith said in an interview on SportsCenter. This has been a slow build and Pat Haden finally decided to pull the trigger.
So who’s going to take over in Los Angeles? Former Mississippi head coach Ed Orgeron has reportedly been named the interim head coach and will get a chance to audition for the job. However, there are a bunch of names being tossed around for the vacancy. Names like Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, Western Kentucky head coach Bobby Petrino are among some of the names that have already been rumored to take the helm. Whoever is the coach will have a tall order ahead of them.
Dan Mount is a college football and NHL writer for TJRSports.com. He is based out of Watertown, NY and can be followed on Twitter @DanMountSports.