Bumped - P
People in the Trojan Nation have strong feelings both for and against the hiring of Lane Kiffin. But, ten years ago, didn't we have our reservations about Pete Carroll too?
Reflecting on the games I've seen (been at all home games in person and missed watching the ASU game), I can see the growth in the men on the field and in the leadership over the program.
There's a story unfolding for our team this year and remember the chess pieces that Kiff got dealt back in 2009?
After the baloney handed down from Larry Scott at PAC-12 HQ a few weeks ago, I have to say that Lane Kiffin really is showing his response on the field.
I'm personally glad that Lane Kiffin made the comments regarding officiating in the PAC-12. There's no way that a major athletic conference should tolerate slip-shod officiating. In fact, the officiating has been so filled with errors that I considered starting a thread dedicated to lousy calls or missed calls by officials at the USC games. Kiffin's comments were accurate, which should be worth something to the conference. When you have a major program in a major conference, you would think that those observations (not criticisms) would be taken seriously. But, instead the conference commissioner high sticks our Head Coach and our program into submission by sending a monetary fine to the head coach and then suspends one of the most outstanding players for a game. Did we see this type of enforcement with any other player when they did the same thing to Owusu? The silence from the PAC-12 commissioner is deafening. The officiating is lousy and the whole nation sees it every week on ABC/ESPN. You would think that the PAC-12 would wake up and build a program to improve play review and improve the PAC-12 field judges interactions.
But, I actually want to focus on my observations of Kiffin as a leader. When Kiff started, my best recollection of him was the UCLA v. USC game in the Rose Bowl under Pete Carroll when our lacking play calling and weak clock management cost us a shot at the National Championship. That situation had me so fired up that I was on a different board asking who was responsible for that debacle. The fan base answer was Lane Kiffin. I was none too pleased to see him move on to the Oakland Raiders because I was just missing Norm Chow so much. Fast forward two years and Kiff is in Tennessee learning to sing from the Rocky Top and the SEC real politics starts spewing their Southern Hospitality. Meanwhile, NCAA is spewing their politic and hospitality upon our program and starts equating hearsay with liability. Before I know it, we lose our Assistant Coaches to UW and Pete Carroll to the NFL Seahawks. Mike Garrett is suddenly out also. It was looking mighty cloudy and cold on Fig.
Then, Lane Kiffin shows up.... oh no I think... we're going to have "that guy" back? I thought he was on contract? I thought he was learning SEC lingo and Rocky Top?
No, no... was this the same guy who had Al Davis yelling down from the box at him? Was this the same guy who was timidly calling behind Pete Carroll?
Nope. It wasn't. It was a different man. Unlike the younger Kiff who was learning, this Kiff was different. He's in the South Bay running in the morning at the beach. His wife and kids are at home in the USC neighborhood again.
Kiffin has really grown as a leader and a man. I can't help but see a long-run at USC for Lane Kiffin.
When Kiff started at Tennessee, he was taken to task by the media in the South and it set up friction in the SEC. This was not Pete Carroll working the LA media. Pete would run the sidelines and pump his fists in the air. He would smile his boyish grin and look the part of a Newport Beach blonde and a vigorous Redondo Beach dude. Where had our charismatic leader gone?
I would sit up in the Season Ticket holders section watching Kiff all game. Pete would wear the USC cardinal and gold and beige slacks and pace the sidelines like a hyperactive adult. Kiffin stands on the sidelines, sometimes not moving at all. He holds his playcard over his mouth and is constantly looking down at the card. He hardly moves at all compared to Pete.
Take a look at Kiffin on FSN. Pete Carroll was dynamic and rapid fire with the comments. When I watch Kiffin, I almost fall asleep from Kiffin's almost hyponotic monotone talking about the other team and slow rate of speech. Last year I began to compare the Pete Carroll Trojan teams to Pat Riley's Magic/Kareem Laker dream teams. And, I began to wonder.
Well, this year I stopped wondering when we played Utah. When we played Stanford, I realized that the Trojan faithful are watching something very special.
Kiffin and his entourage are writing a new chapter in USC's mighty legacy. This legacy is being written over the span of years, not minutes. It is written in the energy of our freshman and sophomore players. It is seen when Barkley throws to them or when Kalil and Gallippo shoulder up. It is also seen when Coach O and Monte Kiffin are doing their work. I can see it from my vantage point. I can look right down the coaching line from my seat and I watch their energy and their focus all game.
With all the adversity off field, I have to say that I am more proud of watching my USC Trojans this year than any other year. The thing that makes me the proudest isn't the blow-out score tonight against Washington.
I am proudest of the fact that our players show class on the field. We do not go pulling facemasks, horsecollars, or personal fouls. Our penalty rate is the lowest in ratio than at any other time in my memory. The guys are really striving to play consistent ball and clean ball too. This is not "just win baby". It's win right and leave no doubt.
I judged Lane Kiffin too harshly five years ago. He was learning at that time. There is alot more to learn. But, when have you ever seen a team with ten years of sanctions, out of bowl contention by choice of the NCAA, dealing with upcoming scholarship losses, and then look like we did over the last few games?
That's what I'm saying tonight. I feel really blessed to be watching this staff move forward.
Hey Coach... I'm so glad you chose to come back to USC. I know you said it was an honor, but tonight, the honor is all ours. Thank you for bringing your approach to USC.
And, by the way, keep covering your mouth when you're talking to the booth.