Over the first two weeks of real college and N.F.L football action, there are a million storylines to enjoy. Oh, how I love this game.
Chip Kelly’s high-speed offense seems to work in the N.F.L., and it’s exciting as hell. Philip Rivers and the Chargers can still piss a game away with the best of them. Al Michaels is still the best voice in professional sports. Tim Tebow deserves a shot in Jacksonville. The Steelers are done. The Texas Longhorns are really, really bad. Notre Dame’s head got too big for its britches. (Never bet on the Irish, they will let you down every time. It’s a lesson I refuse to learn.)
Peyton Manning is well on his way to a 5,000 passing yard season after passing for 462 yards last week and a record tying seven touchdown passes. As a Bronco fan, this storyline should be the one I am most excited about. Yes, I am excited about how good the Broncos looked in Week 1. However, I am more excited about watching the slow, painful demise of U.S.C. football coach Lane Kiffin, who, after a 1-1 start so far, is undoubtedly going to lose his job sometime this season (or at the end of this season).
The only question is, how bad will it get before he gets canned and sent to the Arena League?
Those of you who’ve read this column long enough know that I am no Kiffin fan. Hate is a strong word, so I’ll just say I really, really hate Lane Kiffin. My hate stems from a few years back when he was named head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers. As you may or may not know, I am a huge Volunteers fan, mainly because of U.T.’s Neland Stadium, which holds 110,000 Rocky Top fans – and those two beautiful checkered end zones. It’s a place where good Southeastern Conference football lives, and Kiffin was given the head job at a school where real football lives.
Well, Kiffin crawfished the school and its fans for a job as head coach at U.S.C. after only one season in orange. He traded real SEC football for the Southern California lifestyle. Not that there is anything wrong with the Southern California lifestyle, but any college coach who gives up a SEC coaching job for it should be checked at a mental institution.
Kiffin is now in his fourth year as coach of the Trojans. His first two seasons at U.S.C. were basically warm-up years, as the Trojans were banned from college bowls. Last season, quarterback Matt Barkley decided to hang around U.S.C. for another season (instead of going to the N.F.L.) to win a Pac-12 Championship. To say it was a lackluster season is putting it lightly. The Trojans finished the regular season at 7-5, closing the season out with an ugly loss to Georgia Tech in Sun Bowl. I think a lot of people in Southern California, including boosters, players, parents and school officials were scratching their heads at that point. Kiffin was supposed to bring the Trojans back to the forefront of college football, yet all they seemed to do is go backwards.
So all eyes are on this season. Maybe this will be the season where U.S.C. fans will get to see the hidden football brilliance that Kiffin supposedly possesses?
Well, it’s been two weeks into the 2013 season, and already the U.S.C. Trojans’ year is down the drain. Finished. Caput. In Week 1, the Trojans beat Hawaii 30-13 in what was a sloppy showing of offense for the Trojans. (Those who bet with the 21-point-favorite Trojans, went home with their heads hung low.)
Last week, the Trojans – before a 77,000 home crowd at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum – lost 10-7 to the Washington State Cougars. Good on Washington State. I don’t want to take anything from their effort last weekend, but they were a 3-9 team coming in from the 2012 season. U.S.C., frankly, should have trounced the Cougars. Instead, they lost and therefore, they lost their 2013 season. There is no coming back from this loss. This year the Trojans were ranked something like 13th in recruiting. Washington State was 53rd. That tells me that U.S.C. still has the ability to bring in top recruits, but its coaching staff doesn’t have the ability to put it all together, and that starts with Kiffin.
His first and biggest problem this season was hesitating way too long to choose a starting quarterback. Would it be Cody Kessler or Max Wittek? Trojan fans were angered that Kiffin hadn’t made the decision before the team charter lifted off to Hawaii for its first game. They split time, and were both sloppy. The same happened going into the loss against the Cougars last weekend. Both split time and the offense were even more sloppy. So on Monday, via video (the new way of announcing decisions without having to face the media), Kiffin finally announced that Cody Kessler would be the Trojans’ starting quarterback. (A poor decision, in my opinion). Simply announcing that they have a starter, Kiffin said Monday, meant that better days are to come for the Trojans.
“It will help us in general, just knowing that it's one [quarterback] right now and that we can game-plan around that,” Kiffin told The Los Angeles Times. “Now we can get off the 50-50 reps and get back to the one, to Cody getting the majority of the reps.”
Well, no shit, Sherlock. This should have been done three weeks ago. No wonder your team is in disarray. Ask any coach who’s split time between quarterbacks in the past, and they will undoubtedly tell you to not do it. For Kiffin, it's a decision that came two games too late. U.S.C’s weaknesses have been broadcast already. Don’t think other teams aren’t going to do what the Cougars did to them last weekend. Hell, maybe even Boston College will beat U.S.C. this weekend. They could be that bad.
I honestly feel for the U.S.C. community in this. The Pac-12 is better when the Trojans are good. U.S.C. has been duped into thinking Lane Kiffin is a great football coach, and that he’s to be respected. I would say Lane Kiffin plays a good football coach, but he’s no real football coach. He’s an actor.
From his days with the Raiders to his short stint at Tennessee to the present, Kiffin has done nothing more than disappoint. The sooner Kiffin is fired at U.S.C., the sooner their football program can get on a track toward success. What a bum.