By Mitch Chortkoff
From week to week since last season Lane Kiffin had been on the brink of being fired as USC’s football coach.
When last season’s 7-6 record, far below Trojan standards, was followed by a slow start this season Kiffin remained in trouble.
Then USC went to Arizona State, was outscored in the third quarter, 28-0 on the way to a 62-41 loss and Athletic Director Pat Haden had seen enough.
Kiffin was fired as the Trojans arrived home at 3 am and veteran line coach Ed Orgeron was named interim ccoach.
Here are my impressions of what will happen next.
Orgeron will coach the remaining games this season, essentially auditioning to remain in the position.
What are his chances? Not very good. Although Orgeron is well regarded he probably isn’t the big-name coach one would expect the Trojans to seek. Football is big business at USC and the private school can afford what it will take to bring in an icon in the profession.
“I won’t say much about our search for the next three months,” said Haden. “WE owe that respect to our players, particularly the seniors.
“But every Athletic Director has a list of contingencies. At the proper time we’ll get this done.”
The 53-year-old Orgeron was briefly head coach at Mississippi. He is well respected as a high energy coach and he has also been USC’s recruiting co-ordinator.
But USC has a lot of difficult games left on this season’s schedule and it would be quite an upset if it could beat Stanford or UCLA. The Trojans don’t play Oregon this season.
A loss to UCLA last season didn’t improve Kiffin’s standing with Trojan fans.
Haden said he had an intense 45-minure meeting with Kiffin.
“This was at 3 am,” he said.
“I needed to talk to him when the flight landed.
“Lane battled me. He really wanted to keep the job. For me it wasn’t what happened in the third quarter at Arizona State, it was an accumulation of things.”
An earlier Coliseum loss To Washington State remained in Haden’s mind.
Also, Kiffin insisted on calling the offensive plays this season, saying it was best for the team. But he didn’t settle on a quarterback until the third game.
USC has a 3-2 record but is 0-2 in Pac-12 games, meaning the Trojans’ chances of qualifying for a major bowl game are remote.
Pete Carroll was a hard act to follow. Carroll brought USC back to the top of the college football world before leaving for the Seattle Seahawks.