Memo to Athletic Directors: Stay Away From Kiffin

As crazy and amazing as today’s Raiders press conference was, I find it even more crazy and amazing that there are athletic directors around the country (scroll down in the link–BF, I guarantee you the Vols couldn’t do much worse!) who would even entertain the thought of hiring now-former Oakland head coach Lane Kiffin to run their program.

Kiffin is an excellent talent evaluator–that is his primary gift–but he is NOT a people person (one colleague of his once called him the worst in-house recruiter he’d ever seen) and was about as disliked as you could get as an assistant coach at USC.

Not content with his position as wide receivers coach (where he did a good job), he helped to push one of the best offensive coordinators in college football history (Norm Chow) out and then, when given the reigns of the Trojan offense, found a way to turn its once elegant college-style scheme into a clunky, complicated NFL-based nightmare.

The result was that an offense with perhaps the greatest talent in college football history (the 2005 USC squad), did not win a national title (my belief being that if you are given the best-ever talent on either side of the ball in history, you should win). The following year, he capped the regular season schedule with one of the greatest choke jobs of all time, as his offense scored 7 points in a loss to a bad UCLA team that knocked USC out of the BCS title game.

USC’s offense is still recovering from the loss of Chow and the subsequent switch to an NFL-based scheme–which, like most schemes from that league, takes too much time to learn–as Kiffin’s cohort, current USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian showed last Thursday night against Oregon State.

For some reason–perhaps because of the politicking, buddy-buddy, world that is coaching–this guy remains a commodity.

Wherever he ends up, don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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9 Responses to Memo to Athletic Directors: Stay Away From Kiffin

  1. AUman76 October 3, 2008 at 8:55 pm #

    Let me get this right, Kiffin made Carrol fire Chow and hire him? So did that make him the real head coach or AD? Humm seems someone else had the last word on that matter and it sure wasn’t I wish I was as talented as Bobby Lane, Kiffin. Next thing you gonna tell us is Al Davis is a nice guy of sound mind and feeble body! lol

  2. Anonymous October 5, 2008 at 9:11 pm #

    HP, I thought Chow ran a pro style offense similar to the one Kiffin and Sarkisian employed at USC after he left?

    If not, what’s the difference?


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