Lane Kiffin's Failure at USC Should Shock No One
It wasn't. Washington State only scored 10 points on the night. Yet, they still won the game. How?
The answer to that question isn't really all that complicated.
USC is a program on the decline. It was considered to be the top team in college football when the started a year ago, and then proceeded to go 7-6.
Expectations were high heading into this season, but managing only seven points against Washington State kills even the slightest bit of the momentum the Trojans had after winning the season opener against Hawaii.
The problems start at the top with Lane Kiffin. Just ask the fans who were chanting "Fire Kiffin" at the LA Coliseum following the game.
It's easy to second guess the decision to hire Kiffin back in 2010, given how things have unfolded. But all the signs were there. Kiffin had proved nothing as a head coach prior to arriving in Los Angeles. He won five games in a year and a fourth as coach of the Oakland Raiders. He went 7-6 in his one year at Tennessee.
The phrase "we must hire this coach!" doesn't exactly come to mind after looking at that resume.
Since his time at USC, we can also add a few more facts to his coaching legacy:
- He's never won a bowl game in two appearances (one at Tennessee and one at USC)
- His overall record as a head coach in both the pros and college is 38-35
It's hard to see Kiffin's future at USC getting much better. When you have two starting quarterbacks, you don't have a starting quarterback, and that's the case right now with Cody Kessler and Max Wittek. Neither has been able to produce much of anything from that spot, and the team has no chance of winning until Kiffin can find a solution.
But as we've seen over the years, he doesn't have the solution. He's tried, and he's failed.
The probation excuse can be made for him time and time again. However, it doesn't change the fact that he's proved nothing anywhere he's been as a head coach. This is his fourth season at the helm, but instead of constant improvement, there is a gradual decline. A loss at home to Washington State might change that from "gradual" to "steady."
It's hard to see him being fired during the season because that's not a Pat Haden-like move. If you look at the upcoming schedule, Boston College and Utah State should be victories. But after that, USC will face Pac-12 competition much tougher than Washington State. The only saving grace is that Oregon isn't on the schedule this season. That wouldn't end well.
And, ultimately, unless Kiffin can change the direction of this program in a short amount of time, his tenure at USC won't either.