Tag Archives | Lane Kiffin

Top 10 Overrated Coaches for 2010

This compilation was pretty popular and created a lot of discussion last year, so I thought I’d bring it back again. Keep in mind that I’m not necessarily saying these guys are bad coaches (though in some cases it is true). I’m just highlighting the coaches who, in my opinion, do not currently live up to the hype:

1. Steve Spurrier–Look at early season previews and South Carolina is on the list of potential breakout teams…again. Hasn’t it been five or six years in a row now that the Gamecocks were supposed to be a big deal? No doubt, much of this is residual respect for Spurrier, an offensive guy who hasn’t had very good offenses for SC. The media loves him because he is a good quote and grimaces on the sideline, but what’s he done lately?

2. Les Miles–He is living proof that pretty much any coach can win a national title if given the right situation. His 2007 LSU team was loaded but still lost twice and needed some crazy circumstances to win it all. He’s a questionable game manager and seems to do less with more every year. His teams appear able to beat anyone, or lose to anyone. Yet, he is somehow considered an asset in the SEC coaching fraternity because he won that one title. Well, so did Phil Fulmer….and what’s he doing now?

3. Lane Kiffin–Rarely has more been written about someone who has done so little. His bio from USC’s website reads like a North Korean propaganda pamphlet: “First-year USC head football coach Lane Kiffin is regarded as one of the game’s brightest young coaches…He is known for his high football IQ, as well as for being a vibrant leader and a master recruiter.” Who, exactly, regards him as one of the game’s bright young coaches? I’ll reserve that title for guys like Chris Peterson, Gus Malzahn and Kevin Sumlin, thanks.

4. Rich Rodriguez–Here’s a coach who used to be in the ‘underrated’ category. But his tenure so far at Michigan feels like it has been completely bungled. Did he suddenly forget how to coach, or did the Michigan ‘culture’ push back too hard when he came to Ann Arbor? Whatever the case, he may not get out of this one with his reputation intact.

5. Jim Tressel–Oh, calm down. I know he’s a solid coach who sometimes finds the groove and gets his team to elite levels. But that stubborn belief in his way of doing things–especially his lack of imagination on offense–has probably cost him a chance at one or two more national titles.

6. Pat Hill–His early-decade swagger about playing anyone, anywhere, anytime hasn’t resulted in this program actually winning many of those ‘prove it’ games. But Hill still gets credit for being a balls-out coach. Scheduling against elite teams and losing to them doesn’t mean a whole lot in my book.

7. Jeff Tedford–He’s done very well by Cal standards, but at one time the idea was that he was a genius who would be a thorn in the side of USC. Instead, his program has been passed up by Oregon as the Pac-10′s No. 2, with Oregon State and Stanford nipping at his heels for No. 3.  If only he could recruit and develop quarterbacks, he wouldn’t be in this situation.

8. Mark Richt–He seems like a nice guy, but Georgia fans must wonder how the Bulldogs could have the first pick in the draft (Matt Stafford) and the first running back taken (Knowshon Moreno) on the same team in 2007 and 2008 and come away without a national title. If he can’t win it all with those guys, when will he win it?

9. Ralph Friedgen–Things have been rough for the Terps since winning 31 games from 2001-2003. I’m not sure he would be so respected these days if he were thin…we seem to like our portly coaches, don’t we?

10. Joe Paterno–JoePa makes the list again only because he’s not really coaching this team anymore. He’s a figure head who gets most of the credit for the program’s success, but it is his assistants (primarily Tom Bradley) who get the job done.

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USC Commits Suicide

I am stunned to the core by the news that USC has hired Lane Kiffin to be its head coach.

There are many reasons to feel this way.  Most of the them are probably not obvious to those who have read this site for a while.

I’ve long warned the college football world about Kiffin.  I did all I could to let athletic directors know what they were getting into when dealing with him.  I predicted he would not be long for Knoxville.  True to form, he has done that rare thing for a college football coach–a one and done season.  Now, Tennessee is left to clean up the chaos he has created.  I only wish Tennessee had listened.  I am truly sorry for what has transpired there (but look on the bright side, Vol fans, you already got rid of the guy before he did too much damage).

But my criticism of this move by USC doesn’t touch upon the horrible football decision that has been made.  It doesn’t touch upon his failings as a head football coach or his lack of qualifications for a prestigious job like USC’s.   It doesn’t even touch upon his shoddy interpersonal skills, his numerous closeted skeletons that have yet to emerge or his unjustified rise through the coaching ranks that has been aided and abetted by his father, Monte Kiffin, and his godfather, Pete Carroll, with a speed akin to the efficient workings of a political dynasty named Bush.

No, this is all about the monumentally foolish decision taken by the USC powers-that-be to put their flagship program–with all its tradition and history–at risk.

There sits on the desk of the USC general counsel’s office a letter from the NCAA.  In this letter is spelled out the charges that have been made by the NCAA against USC athletics, specifically the football and basketball programs.  My understanding is that the letter contains several allegations of violations that by themselves are not that major, but when added together form a solid case for a lack of institutional control on the part of USC.

USC has responded to these charges with a giant, multi-hundred page rebuttal.  In February, another meeting will be held by the NCAA to determine the punishment.  Most likely, some sort of probation will come in or around April.

So, with the NCAA on the warpath, USC is about to take a big hit.  No one knows the extent of the penalties just yet, but the penalties are coming for sure.

The USC university administration is, as a result, livid at Carroll and his boss, athletic director Mike Garrett, for their lax enforcement of NCAA standards.  Surely, then, one would think that with Carroll on his way out, the correct signal to the NCAA would be to hire a coach who has a clean reputation, who would run a tight ship.  An act of contrition, perhaps, to show that the message has been received and that the school has taken steps to regain institutional control.

But no.

Somehow, someway, Kiffin was able to convince USC that he was that guy.  But the reality is that by hiring Kiffin, USC is sticking a fat middle finger in the face of the NCAA, the media and its fellow institutions.  With probation pending, it has hired as its coach a man who is a walking, talking, living, breathing NCAA violation.   Need we recount the numerous embarassments in which Kiffin has been embroiled during his short tenure in Knoxville?  Need we recall that some of the current allegations levied against USC occurred while Kiffin was on Carroll’s original staff?   USC might as well have invited a permanent microscope upon itself at a time when it should be battening down the hatches and fixing its issues.  Rather than making a clean break from the anything-goes Carroll Era, it has chose to continue it.

For every violation you hear about in college athletics, there are 10 that never make the light of day.  Count on this: The NCAA and the media will be on Kiffin like white on rice, waiting to pounce at every misstep.  All it takes is one player, agent, booster or runner to spill the beans regarding a past, present or future impropriety, or one coach to tell a reporter about some recruiting trail rumor, and more investigations will ensue.  One more major violation could result in even harsher penalties–even the death penalty.  Who is to say that there isn’t another shoe waiting to drop?  By hiring an all-star staff led by a head man who hasn’t shown he can walk straight–and whose arrogance practically begs for scrutiny– the circus that is USC football’s program is guaranteed to keep going.  That’s something no school on probation should welcome.  The school is making a breathtaking gamble by hiring Kiffin.

Had the announcement been concurrent with a move to hire more NCAA compliance people–USC has just four on staff to oversee 19 sports (compared with its eight equipment guys and five video staffers, for example)–then maybe we could acknowledge a serious move on its part to instill some discipline in a department that has been under the pall of investigation for the latter half of this decade.

But that didn’t happen.   USC did, however, move some other major mountains to get this thing done.  Los Angeles Lakers owner and Trojan alum Jerry Buss stepped to the plate and paid for the Kiffin buy out from Tennessee.  Public Storage owner Wayne Hughes provided much of the cash for the incredible staff that is coming with Kiffin to Los Angeles.  They should’ve kept their money and demanded that USC do the right thing.  Instead, they might have helped sew the seeds of their team’s demise.

We haven’t even touched upon the wisdom of this decision from a football standpoint, nor the crassness of Kiffin’s sudden abandonment of Tennesseee.  On the surface, the staff being assembled at USC is remarkable.  But it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle.  Would the Beatles have been the Beatles again if they reunited in 1977?  Getting the various egos involved to mesh together will be a challenge and it doesn’t seem like a task that the prickly Kiffin is up to.  Without a doubt, the recruiting classes will be sick and maybe unprecedented, but let’s not forget that the 2007 USC team was perhaps the most talented of the BCS era (as it pertains to NFL talent) but found a way to lose to a 41-point underdog in Stanford.  Talent doesn’t guarantee titles and, anyway, what does it matter if the titles are vacated years later?

Maybe the hiring of Lane Kiffin as USC head coach will indeed be a triumph of hope over experience.  Maybe he will run a clean program, having learned his lesson in his time at Tennessee.  Maybe the overwhelming recruiting classes preparing to arrive at USC won’t invite jealous recriminations by conference or national rivals.  Maybe the media will buy hook, line and sinker, that Kiffin has decided to fly straight and that the Trojans are doing everything by the book.

Or, maybe not.  In that case, USC will have hell to pay for perhaps the worst head coaching hire since Gerry Faust catapulted from Cincinnati’s Moeller High to the University of Notre Dame.

Oh, by the way, the L.A. Daily News reported that a source said “He (Kiffin) will do everything that Pete (Carroll) did and continue all the traditions and practice the same way.”

And therein lies the problem.

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