On Saturdays during the fall, USC head coach Lane Kiffin is enamored with his play card, or so it seems.
Scour the web and you’ll find numerous photos of Kiffin staring down, play card in hand. It was almost the go-to for disgruntled USC fans a season ago. For all of the Kiffin naysayers, the play card was often the beginning and the end of their arguments for his removal. It very well could be again if 2013 has any resemblance of 2012.
After some debate and having a hands-off approach during the spring — allowing offensive coordinator Clay Helton to assume a larger role in the offense — Kiffin will resume his duties as play caller this fall.
The head coach has spent nearly the entirety of the Pac-12 preseason media tour discussing 2012’s woes in the running game, short yardage situations, and turnovers.
Whether those get corrected or not could depend largely on his play calling.
Kiffin’s decision to retain himself as play caller is one that benefits the team the most, he says.
“All the decisions I make are in the best interest for our football program and our players,” Kiffin said at last week’s Pac-12 Media Day at Sony Studios. “(I’m) not concerned about what outside people view those decisions as.”
He did not want the decision to call plays or not be a rush to judgment after last’s season’s disappointment.
“I have to look at the big picture of things over the three years here that we’ve done,” Kiffin said. “I kind of thought to myself it would almost be like how we didn’t end very well and obviously Matt (Barkley) didn’t play very well right before he got injured as he did the year before or earlier in the year. But, that would be like me judging Matt’s play right at those last couple of games as that’s what his career was and making a decision based off that as opposed to looking at the whole thing and the good things he had done prior to that.”
As things spiraled downward and the turnovers mounted in 2012 — the Trojans finished tied for 116th in the country with 34 turnovers, 15 of which were Barkley interceptions — Kiffin continued to have security in his job although others didn’t.
The USC coach speaks often about the support he receives from school president Max Nikias and athletic director Pat Haden.
Late last week, the athletic department released a video with Haden giving Kiffin a vote of confidence.
“I anticipate the media will ask me if our football coach is on the hot seat this year,” Haden said in the video. “He is not.”
Since then, it’s been announced Kiffin would continue to call plays and he would also close practices to the public and the media.
Hot seat or not, Kiffin made up his mind he’s going to do it his way.
Whether visor, beanie, shades, or some outlandish combination of all three, Kiffin isn’t allowing anyone to deter him from being Kiffin.