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Lane Kiffin The Right Choice For the USC Trojans

When Pete Carroll took the Seattle Seahawks head coaching job, a spot that “came out of nowhere,” the USC Trojans knew a viable replacement would need to come fast. An up-and-down 2009 season saw the Trojans gut out a victory against No. 8 Ohio State before losing to unranked Washington and ultimately losing their Pac-10 Championship hopes with a loss to Oregon.

The disappointing year was capped off with an ugly loss to Toby Gerhart and Stanford and a lackluster win over Boston College in the Emerald Bowl.

Carroll then bolted for the Seahawks job despite holding on to one of the best jobs in the nation, a top incoming recruiting class, and an up-and-coming sophomore quarterback in Matt Barkley. Carroll, always looking for a challenge, took the job and left the Trojans without their head coach and offensive coordinator, taking Jeremy Bates with him as well.

Little did Carroll know that his job change would only be the second biggest surprise of the coaching carousel week. It was announced Monday that former USC coordinator Lane Kiffin had agreed to become USC’s new head coach. The former head of the Tennessee Volunteers lasted just 14 months in Knoxville before bolting for the top spot at the school he once ran the offense for.

With names like Jack Del Rio and Kirk Ferentz being linked to the Trojans, Kiffin comes as somewhat of a shock. However, despite the uncertainty of Kiffin and his controversial comments while at Tennessee, he is the right man to take over the USC Trojans and lead them back to the promised land, a national championship.

Despite being the head coach of the Trojans for less than 24 hours, Kiffin is already assembling one of the better coaching staffs in the nation. His father and defensive genius, Monte Kiffin, will follow his son and run the same Tampa-two defense that became so powerful in Tampa Bay and Tennessee. Known for their defensive prowess over the course of Carroll’s term, the elder Kiffin will keep the Trojans at the top.

Lane Kiffin should be a perfect fit at USC. (AP Photo/Wade Payne, File)

The other big story of Kiffin’s short term is the potential signing of Norm Chow as offensive coordinator. Chow led the Trojans’ offense from 2001-2004, including the 2003 AP National Championship and the 2004 BCS Championship. His stint with the Titans was successful, and if Chow leaves rival UCLA for the Trojans it is sure to stoke the Los Angeles rivalry even more, something Kiffin is sure to be happy about.

Ed Orgeron returns to the Trojans as associate head coach, recruiting coordinator, and defensive line coach. Orgeron was named the National Recruiter of the Year in 2004 and has a storied past as a fantastic talent evaluator. He is sure to add a great mind to Kiffin’s staff.

Speaking of recruiting, Kiffin has plenty of it and comes in at a perfect time, with National Signing Day just three weeks away. In his first year of recruiting with the Volunteers, Kiffin brought in a top-10 class and had one of the top classes again in 2010 before leaving.

The question regarding Carroll’s departure was whether or not some of his own top-10 recruiting class would look elsewhere. With the addition of the energetic and fun-to-play-for Kiffin, those recruits now seem safe. In fact, the real question is regarding Tennesse’s former commitments and whether or not they will look elsewhere to play their collegiate ball.

Kiffin overachieved in his first year with the Volunteers, leading them to a 7-6 record and an invitation to the Chick-fil-A Bowl. While his coaching resume isn’t the greatest and somewhat of a question mark, the staff around Kiffin and the change of scenery is something the Trojans have to look forward to.

The new scene Kiffin is arriving at is not all fun and games, however, as the Trojans are currently under an NCAA investigation with alleged violations during the Reggie Bush years, when Kiffin was an assistant on staff. Making the situation at USC even shakier is Kiffin’s history during his short tenure at Tennessee.

In the year he was with Tennessee, the school reported six minor NCAA violations, including the mentioning of recruit’s names on the radio, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. Three of Kiffin’s players were also charged in an attempted robbery on campus, including the infamous Nu’Keese Richardson.

The standout wide receiver was the center of attention when Kiffin claimed Florida’s Urban Meyer was calling Richarson on his official visit to Tennessee. Never shy to speak his mind, Kiffin will have to make sure he stays the course at USC, where he is sure to be under the spotlight.

Even though Kiffin has had controversy in the media and is somewhat of an unknown on the field, he adds a brand new dimension to the Trojans football team. His youth, energy, and knowledge is something both current players and recruits can relate to, and it should result in a healthy relationship at The University of Southern California.

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January 13, 2010 Posted by | College Football, Football, USC Trojans | , , , , | Leave a comment

LeGarrette Blount and Byron Hout: Are Both at Fault?

If you have been watching ESPN at any time over the past two weeks or so, you knew that yesterday marked the beginning of the 2009 NCAA Football season.  I’m more of an NFL man myself but over the last couple of years have began to get into the college game as well.  Marquette has no football team so I haven’t picked a school to root for (despite my man-crush on Tim Tebow), but I am starting to respect and enjoy the game more.

The year was kicked off on ESPN with a top-25 matchup between the 14th ranked Boise State Broncos and 16th ranked Oregon Ducks.  The bordered rivals entered the game with BCS berth aspirations, full-well knowing that the loser of the game was pretty much out of the running with Boise State playing in a non-BCS conference and Oregon having USC in theirs, the Pac-10.

Much hype was made of the game, but a lackluster 19-8 Boise State win became a whole lot more exciting after the final whistle blew.  As the two teams congregated on the field in a standard post-game handshake, Boise State sophomore defensive end Byron Hout ran by Oregon running back LeGarette Blount and said something.  Blount then stared at Hout for a moment and delivered a sucker-punch, knocking Hout to the ground.

Blount then punched a teammate trying to hold him back as he attempted to get back to where Hout was.  He was escorted off the field by a few teammates and security as he got into it with a group of fans who, Blount says, punched him and held up a chair as if to throw at him.

The melee was a mess and really took away from the start to what looks to be an excellent college football season.  Blount will have repercussions from his actions, but the real question is this: is Byron Hout at fault as well?

The beginning of this story goes way back to last season, after Boise State had defeated the Ducks 37-22 in Oregon.  Two late hits in the game by the Broncos were the talk of the town, and last month Blount told Sports Illustrated that Oregon owed Boise State “an ass-whooping”.

Here’s a lesson that young (OK, he’s older than me) Byron Hout needs to learn: bulletin board talk is supposed to psych you up before the game and during it, not after.  How many times we seen players come out in the media and say something to rile the other team up before a huge rivalry?  It’s part of sports and something that happens all the time.

Mature players speak with their actions on the field, something all but one Bronco did Thursday night.  I played four years of high school football, and while I would never compare it to a meeting between a Pac-10 school and a WAC powerhouse, the jist of what goes on is the same.

Trash talk happens in every facet of the game during all minutes of the game.  From the second the kickoff takes place to the final whistle, kids are hooting and hollering at the opposition to get their squad jacked up.  In Hout’s case, he had 60 minutes to say anything and everything he wanted to Blount.  Odds are he said quite a bit during the game, meaning he clearly got his point across enough that he could have shut up after the game.

The other aspect of all this is that Boise State won the game handily.  Despite the score, Boise State controlled the game and never let Oregon back in it.  Blount rushed for negative yards on eight carries and caught just two passes on the evening.  He was shut up in every aspect as the Broncos delivered him his self-proclaimed “ass-whooping”.

The term “leaving everything on the field” does not just apply to work ethic and heart.  It applies to the trash-talking and bitterness towards your opponent.  After the game, Blount was seen shaking hands with Boise State players just as any normal player would do.  The game was over and so was the trash-talking.

LeGarrette Blount was extremely wrong for punching Byron Hout, but why did Hout talk in the first place?

LeGarrette Blount was extremely wrong for punching Byron Hout, but why did Hout talk in the first place?

If Hout wants to hate Oregon and LeGarrette Blount for the rest of his life, that’s his prerogative and something I wouldn’t blame him for.  After all, the rivals have had a battle of words but in the end, Boise State has two “W’s” that any Oregon Duck wishes they had.  Those two wins in the last two years were enough for everyone on the Smurf Turf expect one Byron Hout.

For some reason he needed more than just a victory to settle the score with Blount.  The Oregon running back had just started off his senior year in the worst way possible, had just blown any realistic chance at a BCS berth, and had one of the worst games of his football career.  Hout taunted him like a child and basically kicked him while he was down.  Hout does not deserve to be suspended, but some internal action needs to be taken so Hout knows he wasn’t just a victim in this incident.

As for Blount, the proverbial last straw has been taken from his and his days in an Oregon uniform need to be over.  First year head coach Chip Kelly suspended Blount in the off-season for “failing to fulfill team obligations” before being re-instated for the start of the season.  Out of high school, Blount did not qualify academically and had to jake the JUCO route before winding up at Oregon.

If Kelly wants to make a statement with his new program, he will sacrifice his starting running back to show that Oregon is not full of punks.  It’s true that Hout is at fault for talking after the game, but if a player can not show enough restraint to not sucker-punch a player, his own teammate, and go after fans after the fact of the matter, then he has no place on a respected Division-I football team.

It’s sad that the end of a game between two great football teams had to end in such a poor way, but don’t think that Blount is the only one at fault here.  Hout had no place going and taunting, not talking to, Blount after the game.  He was jumping around him, patted him on the back and said something that clearly angered Blount.  It was immature and stupid of Hout, but Blount’s even dumber actions seem to be covering that up.

Whatever happens to Blount, likely a suspension of some sort, Hout needs to come out publicly and apologize for his words and actions to clean this act up.  Not only will it make him look better, but it will remove some of the dark cloud that is being put over the heads of the poor winners of Boise State.  Only one person took it too far, but every second Hout wears the Boise State blue, he represents the school and has to know that anything he does is a representation of the school.

September 4, 2009 Posted by | College Football, Football | , , , | 3 Comments