It is hard not to get excited about the start of spring ball tomorrow. There are days when it seems like it was just yesterday that Pete Carroll decided to move on back to the NFL and then there are days when it seems like it was a lifetime ago. I will admit that for me it is more the latter than the former.
No one will deny the greatness that Pete Carroll brought to USC but it was time to go...even PC said it himself in his early days at USC. He noted that a coach's effectiveness starts to wear thin between 5-7 years. We had PC for nine years. For the most part they were fantastic. They were the highest of the high and the lowest of the low.
But as I look back on 2009 a fresh start was needed...
Enter Lane Kiffin.
There was a lot of gnashing if teeth when Kiffin was first announced. After all he was not looked upon very highly when he headed to the Oakland Raiders and there were some still some hard feelings left over when he went to Tennessee. People blamed Kiffin for the departure of Norm Chow. Others still blame him for the 4th and 2 call against Texas when it was clear that it was Pete Carroll's call that fateful night...not to mention the admission by LenDale White that he ran off the blockers in front of him causing him to be stopped short.
It doesn't matter...as it is all in the past. We are where we are and now that we have had some time to digest the hiring of Kiffin and his assembling of one of the best defensive coaching staff's in the country we can now focus on what lies ahead.
Kiffin will be different from Pete Carroll. From the way he will conduct his practices to the way he disciplines players will be different.
It has to be.
The attention that the program has drawn makes it that way.
Kiffin has changed as well, he had to.
Kiffin's introductory news conference at Heritage Hall was noticeably devoid of the bluster that had accompanied his arrival at Tennessee -- the promises of a quick ascent to the top of the proud SEC and echoed choruses of "Rocky Top."
He even waited a few weeks before making his first incendiary comment about a rival Pacific 10 Conference football program.
With USC coming off a lackluster 9-4 season, his approach during his first team meeting was also straightforward. He told the players that all positions were open, and he followed up in the coming weeks by tightening the screws on everything from conditioning workouts to the penalties for tardiness or missed classes.
When Carroll ran things, junior Chris Galippo says, "He was always happy, always fun, and the meetings were loud and rowdy."
Kiffin, the linebacker says, "is a lot more businesslike."
That's because, Kiffin says, he can afford to be.
"We don't need to go out and grab attention," he says of USC, "because we have it."
Spending 18 months under Al Davis and spending another 14 months in the SEC certainly exposed him to things that he did not see during his first stint at USC.
I would suspect that Kiffin is more mature now. Not surprising, running your own show does that to a person.He has already acknowledged that he doesn't need to pull the circus stunts that he did while at UT. Something that many of us knows comes with the territory.
It would not surprise me if Mike Garrett laid some serious ground rules down upon Kiffin's arrival.
I think Lane Kiffin is going to bring a lot different ideas to the team. What put one player in the doghouse under Pete Carroll may not have the same effect with Kiffin. As much as we all liked to hear Pete Carroll's different philosophies I think there were times that we could all sense some BS going on.
PC had his favorites, the whole open competition for your your job didn't always pass the smell test. Kiffin has made it clear that as of right now there is no depth chart. He may have some ideas but until he actually sees the results during spring ball he has an open mind.
No one is assured a starting job...
I am one of those who were skeptical of the hiring when it was initially announced, but I am on board now.
I am actually kind of excited for the future.
Don't get me wrong...I thought the world of Pete Carroll and I wish him all the best but it was time. The two terrible losses to Oregon and Stanford and the reaction in the days following those debacles really made me think that maybe it was time to go. PC gave us a ton of great experiences but he left a few critical wins on the table that could have made him an immortal in the sport.
Kiffin is now in control of his own destiny.
The fan base is tried of all the negative press that SC has had written about it during the past few years, legitimate or not. How the program is received with this new staff and Kiffin's new lease on life will be put into question when the first problem arises...I mean a real issue, not some over-hyped story about recruiting a seventh grader or some other crap story.
How he handles any negative press that could arise will say a lot about how the program moves forward.
But that is to be determined later.
Right now we get to see how the team performs under a new coaching staff.
Or maybe not...