Well, give USC’s embattled athletic director Mike Garrett credit for one thing – he’s not afraid to go bold. Less than 24 hours after Pete Carroll was introduced as the new head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, there was Garrett, introducing the Trojans’ new field boss – Tennessee head coach (and former SC assistant) Lane Kiffin.
To say that this is a controversial hiring is the height of understatement. Kiffin was with the Volunteers barely a year after a very acrimonious firing by the Oakland Raiders (remember Al Davis leaving his coffin long enough to read Kiffin’s termination letter to the press?), and caused enough controversy during his tenure in the SEC to last most coaches a decade. Now he’s bailing on that program to come “home” – and his departure from Knoxville is as controversial as his arrival. Students were so irritated that they nearly rioted back in Tennessee, and everyone from the press to the AD blasted his lack of professionalism.
None of this seems to bother Kiffin – or Garrett. With Carroll leaving town, the precious momentum his time in LA created was at risk, and it would take a bold move to keep it going. This is just that move. Kiffin brings with him both former SC recruiter deluxe Ed Orgeron and own father Monte Kiffin – who was the man who mentored Carroll on how to be a defensive coach. Pretty good pickups, and if they’re successful at stealing Norm Chow from UCLA (a longshot at best, worth the shot), it’ll feel like Carroll never left. That could be a blessing or a curse, of course, since you want your coach to stand on his two feet and not hide behind the shadow of his precedessor (ask Bill Callahan how that went with the Raiders). But for all the drama, you have to respect the decision.
Now they just need to make it all work …