It’s the playcard, really – the massive 2-foot by 1-foot laminated cardboard that grips USC head coach Lane Kiffin’s attention every minute of games and probably countless more before and after. I imagine the playcards are tailored made for each game, with a core group of plays that migrate from one weekend to the next. Maybe those favorite plays are inside a box marked “favorites.” Maybe Lane likes to use underlined italics to show that they’re his favorites. Maybe a different color. The playcard is so important to him that I’m surprised it’s not handcuffed to his wrist like the nuclear football, along with 2 or 3 highlighters of varying shades of florescent color.
You sure all the answers are in that massive playcard, Lane? Do you see what’s happening on the field?
Obviously not. Saturday’s night’s debacle against fucla – which many Trojans sensed was coming as the Fruins earned one tough conference win after another – proved this. You can put lipstick on a pig with USC’s NFL-caliber talent, victories over mediocre teams and stupid point-after gimmicks, but it was still a pig – one that was undisciplined, clumsy and prone to cheating.
I recently had a good football discussion with an old boss and good friend who happens to be a Tennessee fan. After he spent 10 minutes melting my ears with schoolgirl-like giggling and gibes about the Pacific 12 Conference, he got serious: “I say this without a smile on my face. I’m glad you know now.”
Know what about Kiffin? Well, get out your Ouiji board and ask Al Davis.
Or fly to Knoxville, Tennessee and ask around about Lane’s classy departure.
With one game remaining this regular season – against top-ranked Notre Dame – only one thing is for certain: Lane’s job is safe for now. USC Athletic Director Pat Haden affirmed his position just hours after the loss to fucla.
Why this uproar from Trojan Nation? After all, this isn’t the only USC football team that fell short of sky-high expectations.
Scholarship reductions and an improving conference are part of the backdrop, and those limitations are understandable. But under the current regime, I don’t see a system being installed that can restore this program to national prominence. Read this Fortune magazine article about Nick Saban, who comes across as dry as melba toast but has a very meticulous method to his madness. His “process” has worked at Alabama, LSU and Michigan State.
Kiffin just gives off a bad vibe – the silly, exhausting gamesmanship (the need to lie on your injury report), the no-brainer recruiting violations, the poor strategies (letting your defensive coordinator dad use a Tampa 2 defense when it’s clear the corners can’t take the stress or tackle well enough while the defensive line shreds like wet Kleenex against spread offenses), the lack of in-stride adjustment during games. It all adds up to a big pile of cardinal and gold mush that’s painful to swallow.
This is the beginning of the end for Lane Kiffin at USC. And like his departure from the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee, it promises to be a messy one.