Commentary

Southern Cal's Lane Kiffin doesn't live up to the hype

Coach led preseason No. 1 to five losses in final six games of season

Special to the PacketJanuary 2, 2013 

After watching a major part of 30 college football bowl games (five to go) I have come away with one major conviction: Southern California's Lane Kiffin is the most overrated coach in major college football.

We already knew he was a man not to be trusted. He has been caught in one lie after another during his three tenures as a head coach at Oakland (Raiders), the University of Tennessee and Southern Cal.

Now after his Trojans failed to show up in a 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech, a team with a losing record that had to get a special NCAA exemption to get in the Sun Bowl, Kiffin has made NCAA history.

Southern Cal went from a pre-season No. 1 ranking and talk of an undefeated season to five losses in its last six games.

Don't tell me it's because the Trojans lost their star quarterback, Matt Barkley, after a season-ending injury in the UCLA game. Southern Cal lost three games while Barkley was healthy.

No, this was an underachieving team, loaded with future pro players, most recruited by the previous coach, Pete Carroll. With a 5-4 Pac-12 Conference record, Southern Cal wasn't even the best team in Los Angeles, losing to UCLA, 38-28.

Bill Plaschke, one of the nation's best sports columnists, questioned Kiffin's leadership Tuesday in the Los Angeles Times.

"The kid quarterback (Matt Wittek) was perplexed by the defense and wandering the sidelines looking for comfort or instruction. He received neither," Plaschke noted.

"This lack of leadership spread to the players, even quarterback Matt Barkley, who began the season as a Heisman favorite and ended up a no show."

If you look back at Kiffin's record as a head coach, you have to wonder why this guy was ever labeled the "Boy Wonder."

He had a 5-15 record with Oakland when Al Davis fired him after four games in 2008. Davis called him "a flat out liar" and said he was guilty of "bringing disgrace to the organization."

Next came Tennessee where Kiffin posted a 7-6 record before leaving after one season. That was long enough for him to accuse Florida's Urban Meyer of cheating and later telling a South Carolina recruit that "he would end up pumping gas for the rest of his life like all other players who had gone to South Carolina."

In three seasons at Southern Cal, Kiffin has had a respectable 25-14 record, but is the first coach since 1964 to take the pre-season No. 1-ranked team to unranked at the end of the season.

And controversy has continued to follow him in 2012, starting when he became a first-time voting member of the USA Today Coaches poll last August.

Kiffin resigned after his preseason selection of Southern Cal as No. 1 and was caught in another lie when he told reporters: "I would not vote USC No. 1, I can tell you that much."

USA Today, citing the need to "protect the poll's integrity", quickly revealed that Kiffin indeed had voted his team to the top spot.

Which bring us to last weekend and another embarrassment in El Paso when Georgia Tech players walked out of the Sun Bowl banquet because the Trojans arrived late.

Southern Cal's lack of respect was further demonstrated when two players tweeted nasty things about the city of El Paso.

Small stuff? Sure. But a public relations nightmare for Southern Cal athletics director Pat Haden and the university.

Could Kiffin's future at Southern Cal be in doubt?

It should be.

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