So, let me get this straight…
USC — specifically AD Pat Haden — is bringing back next season a football coach who, despite the wealth of talent the storied SC football program attracts, has accumulated a decidedly mediocre 7-5 record this season; who, even with the enviable offensive weapons he has at his disposal, couldn’t figure out how to get in the end zone in four chances from the goal line when it mattered the most; who, earlier in the quarter, took a crucial potential touchdown off the board by calling a late timeout just before the play clock expired?
As easy as Lane Kiffin makes it for us to make fun of him and all his sad faces, it’s even easier to see Kiffin is not the right guy to helm the USC football team, nor arguably any other football team (full disclosure: I’m a Raiders fan who still resents Kiffin’s abortion of tenure in charge in Oakland for one-and-a-quarter ugly seasons).
It’s not like impressive recruiting is something Kiffin brings to the table, either. USC is a school whose name alone recruits for itself. The school does just fine on its own.
What Kiffin brings to the table is horrible decision making. From bad play-calling to poor game management to unfortunate handling of the media. It’s all across the board. That was fairly evident tonight. It’s been fairly evident all season long. It was evident when he made that regrettable “singing Rocky Top all night long after beating Florida” gaffe. (Florida went on to beat the Vols in Kiffin’s only year in Knoxville, duh.) And it sure as hell was evident when he once sent out Sebastian Janikowski out for a 76-yard (!!!) field goal. Bad decision making has followed Kiffin throughout his underqualified head coaching career.
It’s not limited to just a few isolated incidents. Over and over it happens. Big instances and little instances. Saturday against Notre Dame was most definitely a big instance. And he’s done little to convince us it will change any time soon. These are the sort of things that over time can make all those coveted blue-chip recruits shun your illustrious program. Reputation is everything.
Pat Haden can tie his boat to Kiffin’s dock all he wants, but he better be prepared to go down with him.