Kiffin out, Orgeron named USC interim coach
LOS ANGELES -- Lane Kiffin has
made a name for himself as an ace recruiter. On Sunday morning during
the 3 o'clock hour he found himself at it again. Recruiting. Although
this time it wasn't trying to get a five-star recruit to select USC. He
was making a pitch to athletic director Pat Haden to keep his job.
"He's a great recruiter and he battled me," Haden said. "He really tried to keep his job and I respect him for that."
Eventually Haden had the last word during an approximate 45-minute
meeting shortly after the team's charter flight landed, effectively
ending Kiffin's tenure as USC head coach.
Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron has been named the interim head coach, and offensive coordinator Clay Helton will assume playcalling duties.
The Kiffin Era lasted 43 games with the now former head coach going 28-15 during that time.
More glaring is the 4-7 they are in their last 11 games, dating back to a loss at Arizona last October.
In that span, the team twice allowed the opposition to score 62 points
against them, which is a record for most points against USC. Oregon did
it last season. Arizona State did it in Tempe on Sunday night, causing
the Trojans to drop their first two conference games for the first time
since 2001 and 3-2 on the season, which wasn't in the cards for Haden.
"Numbers were down, new quarterback and such but I just still didn't see
this (3-2 start to the season)," the athletic director said. "That was
really the reason why."
Haden was relentless in his support of Kiffin since he was named the
school's athletic director despite the head coach not being his hire
which is rare these days.
On numerous occasions, Haden expressed his backing of Kiffin with a
number that never fell short of 100 percent, including in a video
released over the summer. It's a message he has not regrets about
despite Sunday morning's developments.
However, once the season started, he felt differently. From the season
opener in Hawaii through Sunday night's defeat in Tempe Haden didn't see
Kiffin did everything that he was supposed to do, Haden said. He
graduated players and didn't have any compliance issues, but at the end
of the day it's about wins and those became harder to come by in the
last 11 games.
Following last season's 7-6 debacle Haden, didn't pull the plug because
he thought it was a "aberration." However, through five games in 2013,
Kiffin didn't give his now former boss any reason to believe anything
So enter Orgeron who's been tasked to turnaround a season the school
doesn't feel is lost. In the process he is expected to inject "fun and
joy" back into the program.
In three years as the head coach at Ole Miss, he never won more than
four games in a season. Yet, there was plenty he learned and took away
from that experience that he feels will help him as the interim head
"Things like today, speaking to the media," Orgeron said. "Being able to
handle a team --some good, some bad. How to react in adverse
situations. How to go play LSU and Alabama at LSU and Alabama in a
hostile environment. How to react with all the the players on the team
as the head football coach not the defensive line coach. How to interact
and organize recruiting. All that stuff, I feel I'm prepared for.
"I will add some energy, some excitement, hi-fiving guys. Having fun. That's what I like to do."
When Kiffin was hired away from Tennessee it was a package deal. He
brought along his father, Monte, to be the team's defensive coordinator
and Orgeron as defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.
Now, after Monte had an unceremonious resignation at the end of last
season and Kiffin was fired at the airport in the middle of the night,
Orgeron remains the last man standing in the McKay Center.
For Kiffin, after being the head coach of one of the NFL's most
recognizable franchises and two of the more well known programs in
college football before the age of 40, does anyone give him another
opportunity as head coach?
Is he Mike Shula, the guy who preceded the heavyweight, Nick Saban,
during a period in which a perennial power, Alabama, was dealing with
Is he Norv Turner, a guy with talent as an offensive coordinator but not quite cut to be a head coach?
Those answers will come.
For now, we know he is no longer the head coach at USC.