Last week, Joel of SB Nation's Rocky Top Talk wrote an article, noting that our very own Lane Kiffin continues to have some special ability that apparently turns our brains into "mush" through his P.R. stunts and Pete Carroll-esque spin.
Listen, we know from experience the dilemma a fan experiences when Lane Kiffin takes the reigns of your beloved program and that it can drive you to the edge of insanity, but hopefully you come to your senses before walking off the cliff.
Whether or not that may be the case, it appears that Kiffin can also have the opposite effect on people. In short, he's about as polarizing as they come. So while many of my fellow Trojan fans continue to defend the new ball coach, it appears as if Kiffin is subsequently driving his critics to this "the edge of insanity" as well.
Earlier today, a Sporting News radio host by the name of Larry Brown, who by all accounts seems to do a fine job when not discussing 'SC football, took an unwarranted pot shot at Kiffin and his new staff in an article titled "Lane Kiffin Losing Favor at USC."
...familiar names and ties to the golden decade at USC made fans feel comfortable. That was seven months ago. Much has transpired since then which has changed the attitude of the Trojan family towards Lane.
Kiffin assured fans, media, and recruits that the program would not be hurt by the NCAA's investigation regarding the alleged violations. Lane may have been looking out for his program's best interest at the time but his attitude prior to the sanctions appear to have been disingenuous.
Look, people out there need to understand that nobody at USC was expecting the NCAA to drop the hammer on the football program like it did. There wasn't a single person who anticipated the NCAA sanctions to be this harsh. It wasn't just Kiffin. From Mike Garrett to Matt Barkley to the freshman water boy, the common belief held by most was that the team would lose a few scholarships here and there, but nothing incredibly meaningful. Even the president, Steven B. Sample, was under the impression that 'SC would escape any penalties of this severity, as he told reporters in February, that the report "will come out. It will be great." None of us have been writing hate mail to Sample simply because of his incorrect prognostication. The fact that his estimations were wrong does not mean that Kiffin suddenly has to start worrying about his job security.
Secondly, the notion that Kiffin somehow knew of the 2-year bowl ban long before the NCAA report was to be released is laughable. If you're drinking the Seantrel kool aid than you have some serious issues to check out. I know many of the people who work within the football offices here at 'SC, and all of them indicated to me throughout this process that Kiffin and his staff anticipated a very light sentence from the NCAA. June surprised all of us, not just the fans.
Even more disturbing in this piece is that Brown highlights another reason that is suddenly placing Kiffin on the "hot seat."
He's feeling the pressure so much that he wanted to recruit linebacker Joshua Shirley, who was recently released from his letter of intent by UCLA because of a June arrest for stealing a bag on campus. Shirley had picked UCLA over USC on signing day, but Kiffin was shot down by the school in his efforts to re-recruit Shirley because they did not want to suffer the public relations hit of recruiting a player kicked off UCLA's team for an arrest.
The Trojans don't open up until September 2nd at Hawaii, but the pressure is already mounting inside Heritage Hall
For starters, there have been absolutely zero reports out there that indicate Kiffin has either been attempting to recruit Shirley or that USC administrators would be opposed to him doing so. This just comes out of nowhere? I guess I fail to understand where he comes up with this stuff. What's his source? Sorry, but a national guy from the Sporting News isn't going to get these scoops before Gary Paskewitz or Dan Weber. That just isn't going to happen, and it isn't a condemnation of Brown at all. It's just the way it is.
I want to make it clear that Kiffin is in no way under pressure to duplicate the success of Carroll right now. If anything, the sanctions bought him more time should he struggle initially, which is entirely possible. 'SC administrators understand that it's going to take some time to bring the program back to the glory years of 2002-2008. That doesn't mean Kiffin can afford to go 5-7, but he won't be deemed a failure if his teams aren't atop the Pac-10 standings in 2010 and 2011. Nobody with the athletic department is asking Kiffin to go undefeated from day one. But, if you do find somebody who does, let me know.
In the meanwhile, it doesn't appear as if our brains are the only ones going to "mush."