Lane Kiffin Settles In

So now we can catch our collective breaths...

Things will now get back to normal.

It has been an interesting past seven days. From the moment the the news broke that Pete Carroll was leaving USC, to the announcement that Lane Kiffin was taking Carroll's spot as the head coach, to Kiffin's introductory presser, to the ups and downs of Norm Chow's eventual decision to stay at ucla...it was a wild week.

I will admit to being thoroughly drained...this whole situation affected my work too. Not a good thing, but I will catch up.

So now we sit back and wait as Kiffin puts together his staff. He has three weeks before national signing day and this weekend is a big weekend for USC in terms of recruiting.

We have seen Kiffin used as a national punching bag over his decision to leave UT to come back to USC. There is no easy way to leave your current team for another and the reactions of the UT student body and even the Tennessee media says a lot to me...I will leave that open ended.

I learned long ago that if they are talking about you then you matter. Kiffin did a lot to try and make UT relevant again in the SEC. It may have been unconventional, some of his actions may have been boorish, but he definitely fired up the fan base. He was determined to not let the old guard in the SEC keep all of the attention because UT was on a bit of a down swing. I got a kick out of the mock outrage that many put forth about Kiffin calling out Meyer and Spurrier. The SEC is well known for backroom dirty tricks, Kiffin simply said I am going to be up front about it. I remember when Spurrier shot his mouth off towards UT when he was in Gainsville. He tried the same crap in the NFL where he was seriously outmatched...it backfired.

Don't even get me started about Pastor Meyer...

For the most part I think Kiffin handled this week with aplomb. He got hit from all sides but he stood tall and navigated through it all.

Regardless of how he got here, regardless of who made the decision the fact is he is now our coach. Others can do what they want, but Kiffin will have my support. It isn't the perfect hire and he will have a short leash in my eyes but I hope that his antics in the SEC were more a product of the environment that is the "passion" of the SEC than what many would call Kiffin being a brat or immature. If this is truly Kiffin's dream job then he needs to treat the job with the respect that it deserves. In college football circles USC is old money along with four or five other schools. Others who have achieved recent success can be considered new money. Kiffin was right when he said that USC doesn't need any buzz created for it the way UT did. That means he can focus on football and not the extra curricular crap that we saw at UT.

One other note on that...Slick Rick did many of the same things when he arrived at ucla that Kiffin did at UT. Neuheisel tried to poke Pete Carroll to see what kind of reaction he could get...Pete NEVER took the bait. He let his teams do their talking on the field while Neuheisel got rolled by his own marketing department and had his own words shoved back down his throat when he made dumb proclamations during halftime at Pauley Pavilion or in front of boosters.

Kiffin sounded different on the radio yesterday than he did his first day here and at his presser. It is clear that he was probably a little overwhelmed with the whirlwind events that got him here. I am not sure that any of us would acted any different...

Despite working nonstop since arriving in Los Angeles from Tennessee two days earlier, USC's new coach appeared rested and rejuvenated Friday when he emerged from his first team meeting at Heritage Hall.

"This is the third time I've done a first meeting," said Kiffin, who at 34 is already a former Oakland Raiders and Tennessee coach. "But it was different because you knew so many people and so many things have been established here."

His relaxed demeanor was in contrast to what he showed at Wednesday's news conference, when he looked fatigued even before taking on a barrage of questions about his exit from Tennessee and a string of NCAA secondary violations committed by the program during his 14 months in Knoxville.

Kiffin, in the midst of adding to a staff that so far includes only recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, has made recruiting his top priority with national signing day less than three weeks away.

On Friday, the new coaches and several assistants from former coach Pete Carroll's staff began hosting an official visit for several high-profile recruits. USC is attempting to retain and enhance what had the makings of another top-five class before Carroll's sudden departure to become coach of the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

I think Kiffin will find his sea legs pretty fast. He knows USC. He knows the history and tradidion having been here for a good portion of Pete Carroll's run.

USC sells itself...he doesn't have to resort to the same type of antics that he did at UT. I think he knows that...at least that is the impression I get when he said it in his presser. Kiffin just needs to be himself. He needs to focus on football not showmanship.

I think it is pretty clear why Kiffin didn't want Norm Chow...he wants to be his own man. Yes, Kiffin probably would have learned more had Chow been here, Chow's hire on the surface would have given Kiffin's hire better credibility, but it is clear with how Chow handled it and with what I know from behind the scenes that Chow's ego just would have made a mess of things. Chow wanted money and comfort. Chow is settled in at ucla so he has his comfort and he used USC to extract more money from ucla...good for him. I know exactly what that is like but it is clear that he is more concerned about creature comforts than winning...ucla isn't all that, not this upcoming year not with that schedule.

Kiffin looks to have seen the potential downfalls of hiring Chow coming a mile away so he shut it down before the circus really got out of hand...that is a testament to Kiffin being street smart.

But being street smart is only part of the equation, there is no question that Kiffin is smart and savvy, lets just hope that he has some common sense as well.

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