Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Last Straw For USC Coach Lane kiffin?

What is it going to take to make USC athletic director Pat Haden fire head football coach Lane Kiffin? Wasn't this heavily-hyped team staggering to a 7-6 season enough? Shouldn't that Sun Bowl embarrassment, losing to a lousy Georgia Tech team,  have been strike three? With the lid finally off that nasty locker-room incident after the Sun Bowl game, Kiffin is looking even worse.

According to two sources close to three USC players, in the locker room in El Paso just after the loss,  players were furious with each other. Verbal attacks escalated into pushing and shoving before coaches broke it up. To keep players from possibly losing scholarships, names are being kept secret--with one exception. QB Matt Barkley, who didn't play because of a shoulder injury, was part of the problem. Some players thought he was healthy enough to play in the bowl game and accused him of not caring about the team. With inexperienced freshman QB Max Vittek in charge USC never had a chance. Also, it was clear some key players were disinterested in the game and they played like it. So the guys with team pride accosted those who didn't give a damn. Peacemakers broke up the fight before it became a bloody mess. USC is trying to sugar-coat something that was really ugly.

According to the sources, Kiffin knew though the mood in the practices that some players' heads weren't in the game, but he didn't do anything about it. That lax locker-room atmosphere, charge the sources, was his fault.

Can you imagine this happening in an Alabama locker room with coach Nick Saban in charge? No way. Kiffin, though, isn't a dominant force. His laid-back style doesn't command respect 

It's way past the time to dump Kiffin. Strangely, a few days ago, Haden fired basketball coach Kevin O'Neill, who had just engineered a nice win over Utah. O'Neill was ineffective and had put his team in a hole, but Kiffin is worse and his team is in a deeper hole.
Apparently the main reason Haden is reluctant to dump Kiffin is to save that coveted star-studded recruiting class. Well, that class, last summer regarded as No.1, is slipping down the Top10 on the major recruiting sites as players decommit. Expect more bailouts in the next few weeks. For some reason Haden doesn't see that Kiffin has become a liability.

Something happened today, though, that might spur Haden to pull the plug on Kiffin. Oregon coach Chip Kelly just skipped out of Eugene, deciding to take the Philadelphia Eagles head coaching job after initially turning it down. Possibly he got wind that NCAA is about to lower the boom on Oregon. Losing Kelly has to hurt Oregon and boost the rest of the league. With Kelly in charge, everyone was scared of Oregon. Top high school players were flocking to Eugene. Suddenly, though, Oregon is less of a threat, which makes the USC head coaching job more attractive. So now Haden might find it easier to hire a top-level coach.

Hanging onto Kiffin is an unpopular stance. Judging the mood of the USC community on the Internet, most fans and alums want Kiffin out. He is, though, getting support from some sources. USC haters love Kiffin.and hope the school keeps him. They get great comfort watching the Trojans go down in flames.