Failing Upward: The Lane Kiffin Story

Lane Kiffin is the enigma of the football world.  He was born Lane Monte Kiffin to long time defensive coordinator and genius Monte Kiffin.  Unfortunately for Lane, his name is the only thing he shared with his father.  Lane’s life has brought with it only turmoil and decimation of programs.  However, for some reason, he keeps getting the top coaching jobs in the nation.  His recent firing from USC may change that pattern, but that is yet to be seen.

20131201-201014.jpg  Lane started out his coaching career at Colorado State University.  Luckily for the Rams they only allowed Kiffin to be a graduate assistant.  After one year, Kiffin moved up to the NFL and the Jacksonville Jaguars.  After a year of that, Lane was coaching tight ends at USC.  Within 6 years of his first appointment at a minor university, he was the offensive coordinator and recruiting director at a major football program.  I believe right here is where Lane writes a big thank you card to daddy.  Despite this though, Pete Carroll’s appointment looked promising.  The Trojans were 23-3 while Lane Kiffin was there, and his offense was firing.  USC became the first team in the country with a 3000 yard passer, 2 1000 yard rushers and a 1000 yard receiver in the same year.  It is easy to see how anyone in the country would be impressed.

Despite never being a head coach at any level, Al Davis gave Lane Kiffin the keys to the Raiders bus in 2007. jamarcus_russell-story Lane at the time was an astonishing 31 years old, the youngest coach in Raider’s history.  Everything looked to be going the way of the former USC offensive coordinator.  Lane was a young, popular guy in California that knew his way around, with the backing of one of the NFL’s most powerful men.  Unfortunately for Lane he fell into the category that most Raider-post-Madden coaches fall into.  He was a loser.  In his time at the Black Hole, Kiffin was a terrible 5-15.  On top of this, he drafted the biggest bust since Ryan Leaf.  The Raiders are still paying for the money and time they invested JaMarcus Russell.  This prompted Al Davis to fire Kiffin for “bringing disgrace to the organization”.  At this point, you had to feel bad for Kiffin.  To the outside world it looked like a young man who was just in over his head.  Don’t worry, Kiffin will prove that wrong later.

Alshon Jeffery                After the Oakland debacle, a historic yet struggling Tennessee program gave the reigns to Kiffin.  I am not a Volunteer fan, but this program did not deserve what would happen to them next.  Despite Kiffin’s claim that they would all be singing Rocky Top after a victory over the then powerful, Tim Tebow led Gators, The Volunteers went 7-6.  He also scared away Alshon Jeffery, who would later go on to star at South Carolina, by telling him he would end up “pumping gas” if he didn’t come to Tennessee.  However, the worse of Kiffin is yet to come.

At this point the man had destroyed the Oakland Raiders, and his sketchy recruiting programs at USC were revealed to the world.  Reggie Bush was stripped of his Heisman and USC of its championship and wins.  However, this blame was dropped on Pete Carroll, who brushed it aside as he started his new life in Seattle.  Karma is a bitch though, and it followed Kiffin.  After a year leading the Vols, Kiffin abandoned Tennessee for the sunny shores of Los Angeles.  In the process he convinced many of his recruits to follow him to the Trojans, reportedly calling recruits the day of classes to tell them not to go so they would be eligible the next year to play for USC.

Kiffin entered an atmosphere of chaos at USC that he helped create.  The once great program had fallen lane kiffinunder NCAA allegations and had lost several scholarships, along with their vacated wins.  However, Kiffin found success in his second year, leading the Trojans to a 10-2 season.   This was just the beginning of the end though.  USC had lost its foothold in the west, which was partly Lane’s fault to start out with.  Teams like Oregon and Stanford became the teams to beat in the PAC-12, not the Trojans.  The next year USC finished 7-6 despite National Championship hopes at the beginning of the season.  The next year Kiffin was fired.

Despite failing at every level of head coaching, and demolishing 3 iconic football teams, Kiffin is still regarded as a prospect for many top coaching jobs in the country.  I am asking athletic directors everywhere not to give this man another chance to destroy yet another top program.  The risk is not worth it.  While he may be more than capable of coaching your wide receivers, the man is clearly over his head when it comes to the big job and responsibility.  Don’t feel bad for Lane though.  He is a victim of the circumstances he created.  He dug his out grave and now he’s lying in it.  Just don’t give him a latter.

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