USC fires Kiffin after 7th loss in 11 games
LOS ANGELES (AP) — USC has fired Lane Kiffin, making the announcement early Sunday morning not long after the team lost 62-41 at Arizona State.
Trojans posted a short news released to the school's athletic
department website early Sunday morning, saying that athletic director
Pat Haden informed Kiffin of the decision "upon the team charter's
arrival back in Los Angeles" after the loss, USC's seventh in its past 11 games.
USC spokesman Tim Tessalone confirmed the decision when contacted by The Associated Press Sunday morning.
Kiffin went 28-15 at USC
in parts of four seasons, but his team is 0-2 in conference play for
the first time since 2001. And this stay — like many of his other jobs —
comes with a quick, tumult-laden exit.
He was an NFL head coach at 31, a head coach in the Southeastern Conference at 33 and became USC's
head coach at 34. If there was a consistent trend to those stops with
the Oakland Raiders, then Tennessee and finally the Trojans, it was
With Oakland, he lasted only 20 games and his departure
became a messy, public feud with Al Davis, the former Raiders owner who
died in 2011. His arrival in Tennessee was not warmly received by all
Vols fans, given the loyalties many had to the former coach there,
And then came the USC era.
Trojans were hit with severe NCAA sanctions a few months after Kiffin
arrived — he had nothing to do with the wrongdoing that wound up
costing the school 30 scholarships over three years and the right to go
to the postseason twice — but it set the tone for another bumpy ride.
the ongoing issue with the sanctions and injuries, the Trojans played
at Arizona State on Saturday night with 56 recruited scholarship
players. The lack of depth was evident at times in that game, and in the
end, Kiffin was held ultimately responsible.
said in the statement announcing Kiffin's firing that Haden will hold a
news conference later Sunday. The move to fire Kiffin comes less than
five months after Haden said that the team's now-former coach has, given
the sanctions and other issues, "been as good as he can be."
Kiffin faced enormous expectations at USC, especially last season, when the Trojans started the year ranked No. 1 in the country. USC
wound up falling out of the top 10 by mid-September, and out of the
poll entirely by November — finishing the year as the first team in
nearly a half-century to start No. 1 and finish unranked.
It was an all-out free fall a year ago for USC, which lost five of its last six games.
next plays on Oct. 10 against Arizona, so the Trojans have a bye week
to try to settle the coaching situation and get some players healthy. USC
may have lost wide receiver Marqise Lee to a left knee injury, one that
Kiffin said on Saturday night after the game may be serious. Lee is
expected to have his knee evaluated later Sunday in Los Angeles.
"It didn't look very good," Kiffin said. "It didn't sound very good or look very good, so that's all I got for you."
Hours later, Lee's health became just one of the huge problems facing USC's proud, storied program.
addressed his spot on the proverbial "hot seat" after Saturday's loss,
saying he's fine with it and that his own job security is "the last
thing I'm worried about."
"We have to find a way to coach better," Kiffin said.
Instead, USC and Haden now have to find a different coach.
"I think the guys on this team that really do care and can turn this thing around," USC
quarterback Cody Kessler said Saturday night, a few hours before the
firing decision was announced, "It's going to be hard — I'm not going to
lie — but with the character and leadership that we have we can do it."