So my beloved illegal Trojans finished coughing up a hair ball over at the Rose Bowl, but credit goes where credit is due. The inspired Bruins played well, seized the moment, and awakened from their curious historical sleep cycle to win 38-28.
But I’ll still toe the company line and say stuff like the sun shines on every little bear’s posterior at least once (every seven years.)
And I’m sure Coach Lane Kiffin is a nice guy when he’s alone and I bet he’s a great husband, father, and son. But it’s the good son part that’s been getting to me for the last three years or so. As Chris Rock once referred to then-Presidential candidate Senator John McCain, “Wasn’t he too old about ten years ago?” Well, Assistant Head Coach Monte Kiffin developed a defensive strategy in the mid-90s and I hate to say it, but just like Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, Monte’s Tampa 2 isn’t doing so well these days.
Of course, I’m leading off with all the positive Lane stuff just to be fair and looking out for Pops doesn’t make you Trojan enemy #1. Especially when you’ve had everything handed to you on a silver platter with Pop’s fingerprints all over it.
Okay, I’ll just say it; Lane Kiffin reminds me of a USC sorority girl from San Marino. He didn’t get to third base by hitting a triple; he was born just inside the opposing 5-yard line…courtesy of NFL legend Pops Kiffin.
He’s the youngest coach in NCAA Division 1 FBS football…and he’s already been a head coach in the NFL plus the University of Tennessee. Most folks build a career through accomplishment; young Lane hasn’t accomplished that much…unless you count failures of tragic (bordering on comic) proportions. After today, the young Kiffin Loser Trinity is complete.
In 2006, Kiffin was the Offensive Coordinator who thought Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush’s services weren’t required on the key play of the BCS Championship at the Rose Bowl. The Trojans lost the game and their chance to be national champs for the third year in a row.
Later in 2006, Kiffin, still up there in the booth calling the plays, helped USC lose 13-9 to a crummy UCLA team…and a chance for another BCS Championship opportunity.
Today, the Trojans lost again to the Bruins but at least they only blew a chance to represent the South division in the Pac-12 Championship game. If Kiffin sticks around a little longer the Trojans will probably lose to Manual Arts High School and the chance to represent the area between Vermont and Figueroa.
Based on what I’ve observed, young Kiffin basically couldn’t lead his team in silent prayer; probably couldn’t inspire Gandhi to follow a weight-loss program. As a head coach, he’s a great root canal specialist.
A head coach is a leader and the team is a reflection of that leadership. All season long an allegedly super-talented USC team has been undisciplined, careless, and uninspired, all the while matching the maturity level of their “leader.”
Kiffin’s predecessor, Pete Carroll wasn’t perfect by a long shot and definitely deserves some major guilt for kicking off the young Lane entitlement tour by handing over Norm Chow’s job (sort of like replacing Abraham Lincoln with Sarah Palin.)
But Carroll played big; he was innovative, open, and inspiring. Kiffin worries about stuff like sharing injury reports or allowing Coliseum walk-throughs for opposing teams. Carroll looked for teaching opportunities; Kiffin looks for excuses, blames his players. Pete founded A Better LA and developed a culture about “winning forever.” Kiffin deflates footballs and pulls the good ole “switched jersey number trick” on hapless Colorado.
I heard USC Athletic Director Pat Haden has endorsed Kiffin, hoping they’ll be together at the school for a long time. And Haden’s a Rhodes Scholar…but it doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to figure out Kiffin is as out of place as burgers in India when it comes to leading a major organization…or a group of young men.
One time over at Arcadia Park’s tennis courts, I had the honor of hitting some balls with former-French Open champ Sven Davidson. On an adjoining court, a Rusty Miller Academy brat was carrying on throwing a major tantrum; Sven called him over. “Young man! I have some advice for you. If I were you, I’d take two weeks off…and then quit the game.”
Time for Rhodes Scholar Haden to remember he was once a champ too.