Lane Kiffin hate is back? Ah, I see.

If you’ve been living under a rock this week, you’ll notice that the USC Trojans lost this weekend to Stanford for the 4th straight year. It was so hilarious honestly.

One, it was funny Stanford rushed the field. I know. USC was ranked in the top 2. But if you’re a Stanford fan, you have to know that you’ve been SC for 3 straight years before the game started. There is no point in rushing the field. It’s like you, as a fanbase didn’t expect to win. Which is hilarious to me.

Two, it’s funny because how quick a lot of folks have gotten off the USC bandwagon. Which, honestly. Good. As a true fan of the football program for half my life, I’m good with it. ESPN thinks SC is done. Everyone in America thought SC was overrated, and well, I can’t disagree with you there. But here’s the cute thing, it’s September 18th. The season doesn’t really end until early December. So, if SC is out of a title race for losing to a team that right now is currently in the top 10 in mid-September, then okay. I understand completely.

Third, it’s funny because the Lane Kiffin bashing is back, and it’s back on cue. I understand people don’t like Lane Kiffin. On the outside, he’s an arrogant asshole, who has a hot wife, and doesn’t really give a shit about anything other than his football program. Now, it’s funny how the timing comes of the Lane Kiffin bashing.  America’s thought process is this, “Hey, USC lost! Let’s go out and hate on Lane Kiffin because it’s what the cool kids do!”

Yesterday, on Grantland (Which is a great sports website on ESPN.com, if you haven’t read it, please do. You’ll be impressed.), Shane Ryan,  who’s a Duke Basketball fan (more on this later because it’ll come in play) writes something about Lane Kiffin that probably made my day (http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/37177/whats-so-great-about-lane-kiffin). It’s like Shane has been waiting for the day USC lost, so he can write this. Which, fortunately for him, happened on Saturday. Now, if you ever read this Mr. Evans, I’m not gonna bash you because quite simply, you’re a better writer than me, and you have better things to do with your time than worry about a 20 year old kid in Seattle. But, I really found your article hilarious and laughed at the timing of it.

So, well, here we go with my paragraph analysis.

On paper, if you let your eyes blur just a little, Lane Kiffin is a genius and a boy wonder. He became the youngest head coach in NFL history with the Raiders, moved on to a plum job at Tennessee, and now heads up one of college football’s most historic programs, USC, as the youngest coach of a BCS conference team. He’s only 37, but his résumé to date implies someone with a virtuosic football brain, a maturity belying his years, and a precocious instinct for people and systems.

Cool. We all know Lane basically got all of these jobs without actually doing anything. Shoot, a lot of USC fans at the time of the hiring (myself included) weren’t so down with him coaching SC. The shade for his maturity is hilarious. Would you shade Nick Saban’s immaturity? Or Urban Meyer? Nah, because even though they are immature at times (Saban for yelling at reporters because his team is good, leaving LSU for the Dolphins, then lying about it to coach at Alabama;  Urban Meyer leaving Florida in a bad spot to “retire,” then coach again at Ohio State) because they’ve won. I get it. Lane isn’t a winner. But like you said, he’s only 37 years old. Plenty of time to lock up a title, if you ask me.

But in fact, the reality doesn’t match the perception. Lane Kiffin has made a fool of himself at every career stop, shown a penchant for lying and selfishness, and rarely produced on-the-field results that would seem to justify his meteoric rise. The latest example was Saturday’s 21-14 loss at Stanford, which ended USC’s national title hopes and sent them plummeting from no. 2 to no. 13 in the AP poll. Before I get into why this might be happening, let’s take a quick tour through Kiffin’s career highlights.

Now, I agree with you about how Lane has made a fool of himself everywhere. But, tell me where he has made a fool of himself at USC. Keep in mind, as a fan of the program, I don’t think Lane has made a fool of himself at USC. The lying he’s done, yeah I know. Lane lied at Tennessee. In fact, I’ve talked about some of this earlier this summer (https://shaunhoward.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/sec-fans-are-funny/) and trust me, I don’t condone it as a fan. How does this loss make him a fool? SC got beat. Big deal. And For what it’s worth, SC’s title shots aren’t dead. Wanna know why, Shane? Arizona, Oregon, Notre Dame, and UCLA are all ranked opponents, and if SC beats them… well, they have a shot. If they are dead, well cool. Most USC fans hoped for a Rose Bowl or bust run anyway.

After playing backup quarterback at Fresno State and serving four years as a minor assistant with Fresno, Colorado State, and the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kiffin is hired by Pete Carroll to coach the tight ends at USC. He’s 26 years old, and the opportunity with USC almost definitely comes (at least in part) because his father is Monte Kiffin, the famous defensive coordinator who won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers. But to young Kiffin’s credit, he seems to excel at Southern Cal, eventually taking over as offensive coordinator when Norm Chow leaves for the Tennessee Titans. He also assumes recruiting duties.

I doubt it was because of his father’s NFL success, but hey, that’s how some people get jobs or get into schools, right?

Al Davis hires Kiffin as head coach of the Raiders in 2007 for two years and $4 million, with an option for a third year. He becomes the youngest head coach in NFL history, but he and Davis immediately clash. After a 4-12 first season, rumors abound that Davis wants to fire Kiffin, but Kiffin refuses to resign and lose the money coming to him in the second year. Finally, in 2008, Davis fires Kiffin after a 1-3 start and holds a bizarre press conference in which he accuses Kiffin of lying about how often he and Davis spoke and leaking information to the press. He uses a projector to display a letterhe sent to Kiffin detailing his complaints and threatening termination if things didn’t change. After he’s fired, Kiffin files a grievance for $2.6 million, which is decided in favor of the Raiders in 2010. Kiffin continues to fire shots at Davis in major media interviews as late as 2011.

Now, the whole Oakland situation was bizarre. The only reason they clashed was because Lane Kiffin didn’t want JaMarcus Russell. And well… Lane was right. I mean, the late Al Davis was crazy. Went through at least 8 coaches in the last 5-6 years as the owner of the Raiders. Lane failed as an NFL coach. I get it.

Tennessee hires Kiffin to replace Phillip Fulmer in November 2008, signing him to a six-year deal worth up to $2.75 million per year. Over the next couple months, Kiffin makes a name for himself in the wrong ways. He starts by guaranteeing a victory over Florida, and then accuses Urban Meyer of committing an NCAA violation by calling a recruit while he was visiting Tennessee. It turns out that Kiffin misunderstood the rule, and that Meyer had not committed a violation, but that Kiffin himself had violated SEC bylaws by bringing it up. Kiffin is forced to apologize. Later, he tells a recruit that he will “end up pumping gas” if he signs with South Carolina, and insults Nick Saban byrubbing it in after signing Lance Thompson, Alabama’s main recruiter. In 2009, Kiffin goes 7-5 in his only year with the Vols, losing to Alabama and Florida and falling 37-14 in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to Virginia Tech.

Lane really messed around at Tennessee, I agree. As I covered in my previous blog about Lane Kiffin, he set that program back. The funny thing is that he created all of this attention about himself by talking shit. Which honestly, might be brilliant, but at the same time, it’s a curse. But yes, it was wrong to call out Urban Meyer and Saban (gotta admit, it’s funny though), especially when you haven’t done anything. But hey, the arrogance is hilarious.

Kiffin leaves Tennessee after one season, and is forced to pay an $800,000 buyout. He takes his father and Ed Orgeron, his recruiting coordinator, to Southern California. When he announces the move to his team, the players scream at him and accuse him of being a traitor. Angry students block the sports center, start small fires, and riot in reaction to the news. Kiffin leaves among inquiries of several NCAA violations, including accusations that he used “hostesses” to help convince top recruits to come to Tennessee. A Knoxville attorney files paperwork to name a sewage center near campus after Kiffin.

Ah, I remember that night. Lane left Tennessee in a bad spot, like I said before. Especially with all the secondary violations that don’t really do much. I mean, it’s funny how they (Tennessee fans, boosters, alumni) still hate the dude. I understand how they wanted to name the sewage center after him. I get it. But like, eventually, if you want Lane to grow up, you gotta grow up too. Plus, he left for a better job, but I’m sleep about that.

Kiffin takes over at USC, and leads the team to an 8-5 record his first year, and 10-2 his second year. USC is ineligible for bowl games due to NCAA violations under Pete Carroll, but the team plays at a high level and is ranked no. 1 in the 2012 preseason. In late July this year, at Pac-12 media day, Kiffin offers sympathetic advice to Penn State coach Bill O’Brien despite the fact that he’s in the midst of poaching Nittany Lion running back Silas Redd. In early August, when told that Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez had voted USC no. 1, Kiffin says he would not vote his own team first, despite the fact that he had done exactly that. Instead of admitting fault, Kiffinrelinquishes his vote as a form of protest. And last Saturday, Heisman candidate Matt Barkley is held to 20-41 for 254 yards, zero touchdowns, and two interceptions as Kiffin loses to Stanford for the third straight year.

Yup, Lane is a douchebag because he lied to the Media and voted his team first.  If giving up your vote is a form of protest, I give up.  So, he was wrong for recruiting  Silas Redd even though Mack Brown took Penn State’s kicker, and Bob Stoops took their best receiver. Are they wrong? Here’s the funny thing,  Shane. It wasn’t like Lane Kiffin told Silas Redd, “I’m going to take you to Southern California, and you have no choice to return to State College.” (Here’s my question to you: When SC got put on probation, did you say a word about how coaches showed up on their campus and tried to take away SC’s players? I’m gonna go with a No. You probably enjoyed it, honestly. Sure, the situation was messed up, but you act like Kiffin is the only coach who stole their players. ) Barkley played bad and it didn’t help that the offensive line was terrible on Saturday night. The fact that Matt had to throw the ball 41 times in itself is hilarious.

So why does Kiffin keep getting promoted? Why is his career trajectory so impressive when his on-the-field results haven’t caught up to his reputation, and his off-the-field antics have been downright humiliating? I have a couple theories, and the truth is probably some combination of the two.

Well, the thing about Lane Kiffin’s career “trajectory” is that he’s only 37 years old. Now I agree, all of these jobs he’s had have been interesting. But you, Shane make it seem like that the on-the-field results aren’t good. When Lane got to Tennessee, they were terrible. 7 wins there in his only year, that’s not that bad as people think.  USC was placed on probation after he accepted the job. The fact that USC won 10 games last year was downright hilarious. Sure, his off-field antics are humiliating, but at the end of the day, the on-the-field results will eventually be fine.

1. Kiffin is a talented, aggressive recruiter and a decent football strategist whose spoiled-brat arrogance constantly undermines his efforts to become a great coach. He stretches rules, misreads interpersonal situations, and issues the wrong kind of challenges to his enemies. People excuse these as the follies of youth, but that’s a cop-out; they’re the follies of character, and maturity isn’t always related to age.

Well yeah, I think the reason why Mike Garrett hired Lane Kiffin in the first place was to keep the recruiting class in place when Pete Carroll jumped ship. But, there is no way USC wins 10 games last year if Lane doesn’t step up his coaching ability. But you probably didn’t know that since you probably started watching SC play last Saturday. You sound like a scorn lover who is upset that your national title pick lost a game to a good opponent. If Lane is a spoiled brat because he took himself off the coaches poll, I understand. In his three years at USC, Kiffin really hasn’t said a word until well, August. And the only two things Lane has done is get rid of the reporter at practice, (which was hilarious and just more hilarious, so yeah, I get that), and the voting thing. Other than that, Lane has been quiet. It’s like everyone wants him to speak and say random things. Then when he doesn’t, things like this get written. I get it.

2. Kiffin is the beneficiary of something like The Peter Principle. To steal the Wikipedia definition, this is “a belief that in an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit, that organization’s members will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability.” That definition isn’t precisely accurate, so let me tailor it to the world of sports — when the establishment invests enough energy, hype, and time into a personality, that personality runs a huge risk of being critically overvalued.

Ehhhh. I guess I’ll let this pass. Even though, 10 weeks ago, everyone was talking about how Lane Kiffin could coach. Way to quickly fall off that bandwagon. Instead of bashing Kiff, why aren’t you praising David Shaw? I mean, for all the adjustments Lane made against Stanford, Shaw made more. Is Lane Kiffin overvalued at USC? Honestly, no. Might be one of the better coaches in the Pac-12. One loss isn’t gonna change my mind about this, bro.

For an example, look at Harrison Barnes. Coming out of Ames, Iowa, his recruitment process came with an unprecedented level of publicity, and culminated with a now-infamous Skype session in which he announced that he’d be attending UNC. That kind of buildup is more common now, but it wasn’t at the time, and he set himself up as one of the most famous incoming freshmen in NCAA history. So what happened? He was named a 2010 preseason All-American, the first time that honor had ever been bestowed on a freshman. As it turned out, he didn’t live up to the honor; not even close. So how did the basketball world respond in 2011? By naming him a 2011 preseason All-American. Again, the promise didn’t even approach the reality of the disappointing season that ensued, when several key weaknesses were revealed in his game that would prevent him from ever being truly elite. So what happened? A flurry of articles came out arguing that despite a mediocre college career, Barnes would, for some reason, be a good pro. In June, he was drafted seventh by the Golden State Warriors. The myth of Barnes is alive and well, long after the promise of Barnes has died.

Lol. I like your Harrison Barnes example. Since you’re a Duke fan, you’re still scorned about HB going to Carolina? Now, I agree that his hype was ridiculous, but the dude is a pro. I mean, you literally took a shot at Harrison Barnes and his game which is hilarious to me. Eh, I mean, I watch a lot of Carolina basketball, and Barnes was good, not great. That’s honestly what I expected from him. Not sure if the promise has died about Barnes. I mean, a lot of articles that came out were saying that he would be a bad pro, but that’s besides the point. This made me laugh the first time I read it because it was so random. You could have brought up any other athlete, such as Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, Vince Young, Joe McKnight, Jimmy Clausen, etc, and you chose Barnes. Quick question, how was his season disappointing? Because Carolina lost in the elite 8 and he didn’t play well? Well that’s life man. He averaged 17 a game last season.

It’s almost like the basketball world couldn’t reconcile the publicity they’d bestowed on Barnes with the reality that he’s just not very good. To draw a political parallel, this was like the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, with the underlying idea that because so much time and money and humanity had been invested, it would be impossible to retreat from the original view. Barnes represents the athletic quagmire, in which an obvious conclusion is obscured by the smoke of our expectations.

If he wasn’t very good, why did he almost go to Duke? I bet you would have loved Harrison Barnes at Duke. But instead, you didn’t get him. So sad. So sad. Must feel bad that you had to watch Duke in Greensboro lose to Lehigh, huh? (I had to get my personal dig at you, Shane. Don’t take it personal, I have a lot of respect for Duke basketball. But your team lost to Lehigh, and you’re slandering a guy because he didn’t go to Duke. So classy, my dude.)

The athletic quagmire is happening with Lane Kiffin, too. Despite his strengths as a football mind, there are character flaws that assure his failure at every step of his career. I’m not so cynical that I believe people can’t change, but I do think anybody who expects superlative, long-term success from Kiffin is deluding himself. The pattern has show no sign of diverging; what has limited him in the past will limit him in the future. And yet, despite the heaps of criticism directed at him from outside the USC bubble, Kiffin will persevere, his aura clouding the vision of those who should be looking straight at the man.

But we all have character flaws, Shane. I know you do. I know I have some. Over time, people will change. I’m not so sure why you’re picking on him after a loss. But hey, if Kiff doesn’t have long-term success, you’ll be correct, and you can drink champagne by yourself. Of course Kiffin will persevere. Do you expect him not to? The dude doesn’t give a fuck about you, me, or anyone. You really wrote this because USC lost a game.

If USC wins on Saturday, do you write this Shane?

I can answer that for you.

No, you don’t.

Instead you’re probably praising Lane Kiffin. But hey, tough luck for Kiff, and the USC Trojans for losing to an underdog in the Stanford Cardinal on the road for the 4th straight year (3rd straight year for Kiffin).

Now, I respect your work, and wish you all the best. I hope you respect mine because I do agree with some of your points. I do. But at the same time, some of this stuff was just a reach, bro. If you don’t like Lane Kiffin, cool. I respect your hustle, and continue to bash Kiff all you want. I won’t care anymore, and neither will a lot of USC fans.

I’m not writing this to get attention. I’m seriously writing this because I just want to know why you wrote that about Kiffin. Simply, it came out of nowhere, and it made my day. It’s one loss, and you think the season is over.

All I’m saying is, you only wrote this because SC lost a game on Saturday night that they should have won. If Florida State loses on Saturday, are you gonna write about how Jimbo Fisher can’t coach too? If so, I’ll be waiting to read, and laugh at the overreaction.

As for USC?

They’ll be fine. Sure, the overreactions are quite hilarious. But this season just started. SC’s motto is “Fight On.” They’ll Fight On through tough times because that’s what Trojans do. I mean, they just got through the toughest sanctions, and they are still on probation, actually.

*UPDATE*

There was another blog on the Grantland site written about Lane Kiffin. It’s like Grantland is infatuated with him and the USC program. So, Grantland. What is your deal? Are you mad that USC lost, or were you waiting for USC to lose so you could openly bash Lane Kiffin? I just don’t understand why you are choosing to do this. I have a lot of respect for the site, it’s excellent. But this is has gone too far. I know you’re trying to play up to a crowd, and I understand this completely. But two days in a row? Grow up, Grantland.  You’re better than that. Well, I thought so. I mean, I’ll keep reading your site.  USC lost. Cool. We get it. But if USC losing means your follower count, and your reader count goes up due to SECNation fans happy, then I digress. Do what you gotta do.

– Shaun

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