Kiffin: a deluge of criticism on ESPN

Submitted by michelin on January 14th, 2010 at 5:48 PM

ESPN just had a 5 person panel--the one with Paige, Mariotti, etc (called something like "outside the lines" I think).

The comments on Kiffin were uniformly negative by all 5 experts

“You cant believe a word he says"

“He's been at usc at and is already in trouble with ncaa violations"

“He’s gonna be not just in hot water but scalding hot water"

They seemed to imply that severe USC sactions are coming.

Then on the next show: the two person, back and forth discussion between Tony and Wilbon.**

Tony: "He needed to run a clean program but at his first USC press conf, questions already started flying as to whether he'd already violated rules his first day."
"this is not a good start for kiffin"


"He's real good at talk..."we just did a story about his guys getting in trouble"....
Tony reminded Wilbon that the had also previously said of Kiffin:

"he's a fraud and a cheat"

Whether you agree or not, the USC recruits or commits...especically Baxter, Parker, etc....should see these shows.

Yes, nobody likes negative recruiting, but don't think that Kiffin hasn't already pumped up his own negative recruiting machine. (he previously told a guy that if he went to south carolina, he'd be pumping gas the rest of his life)

Also, there's no need to say anything negative about Kiffin...since everybody else is alreay saying it for you.
The recruits just need to see what other people think of Kiffin--the universal opinion that this USC team--with a Forrest Gump coach and the likely stigma and restrictions of probation-- is very unlikely to be the USC team you thought you were getting, no matter what the slick salesmen will tell you.

*All quotes are approximate since the announcers spoke quickly and I did not have a recording

**(Not sure if i am spelling or realling his name right)



January 14th, 2010 at 8:20 PM ^

All you need to know about Layla Kiffin:

Yes, she is/was hot... (In the blue I guess, Go Gators!)

but she is also scary!…

Those eyes! Me thinks that 24/7 with the girls is wearing on the poor girl!

She also has a way with words:

"I told Lane we better do good because I don't ever want to leave."

Layla Kiffin


Edit: Yay! My stupid self used HTML for the first time!


January 14th, 2010 at 6:17 PM ^

I have to agree with Desmond. Considering that the NCAA is breathing heavy down there throats the chance to get the name of Kiffin is a coups IMO. What other name would consider US-C you get sanctions that is top tier like Stoops or Saban. Although Kiffin is a PR nightmeare this is So-Cal and that flies there. With Kiffy they keep a top recruting class intact, they have a coach well before sigining day, they have a national name that is one with Pete's glory days and he is putting the superstaff from the National Championship back together. Even if the NCAA gives them two years of no BCS or some other restrictions So-Cal through Kiffin can roll on and take the blow as I see it.


January 14th, 2010 at 6:43 PM ^

Apparently, there are some real questions about whether Kiffin and Orgeron already violated NCAA rules by contacting students already on campus at Tenn (even if not yet attending class).

Orgeron admits calling Tenn recruits and would not admit that he told them not to go to class. That's how he's trying to squirm out of the issue--unfortunately, Kiffin later confirms that Orgeron did say this to some. "…Ed talked to a recruit and gave them the facts…he had RECEIVED a number of calls and explained their options (ie not enrolling).” SO Kiffin blows Orgeron's implied excuse.

At the same time, Kiffin now tries to justify Orgeron’s acts by saying: “I am not gonna call any Tenn recruits…if THEY call us it’s different.” So Kiffin is trying to squirm out of it by implying not that Orgeron did not tell them to not enroll but that THEY called ORGERON....….But, Orgeron had already publicly admitted making the calls---which blows Kiffin's excuse.

Initially, Kiffin also gave the impression that he did not know what was going on, but this is belied by his own statement now that he discussed the calls with Orgeron and knew what Orgeron said in those calls.

Kiffin’s initial denial then has given way to misleading wordings…not clearly answering questions…then implying that Orgeron only received calls…finally leading to mutual falsifications by Orgeron and Kiffin of the excuses given by the other.

Pretty slick operation, huh?

What should the NCAA and press now do? The truth about the Orgeroncalls could easily be verified by a request for phone records. Not being a lawyer, I wonder if these records could be demanded under the freedom of information act at U Tenn, a public institution...alternatively, it would seem reasonable for the NCAA to request them to see if a violation occurred).


January 14th, 2010 at 7:37 PM ^

Starting Sept. 1 of a player's senior year, one phone call a week is allowed, except during contact periods. Contact periods, in general, are Nov. 29 through January 30. However, many days during that period are either "quiet" or "dead." During contact periods, unlimited phone calls are permitted. **During quiet or dead periods, the one call a week rule applies:**

Dead Period
The college coach may not have any in-person contact with you or your parents at any time in the dead period. The coach may write and telephone you or your parents during this time.

January 11th - 14th, 2010 [except for (a) below]

a. Institutional staff members may have contact with a prospective student-athlete who has been admitted for midyear enrollment, provided the prospect has signed a National Letter of Intent or other offer of admission and/or financial aid to attend the institution and is required to be on campus to attend institutional orientation for all students.…

Ed is saying he sent them text messages?

"In April 2007, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted 13-3 **to prohibit the use of text messaging in recruiting.** E-mail and faxes were still allowed but a valuable and functional way for college coaches to quickly communicate with recruits was taken away."

Violation, methinks.


January 14th, 2010 at 6:58 PM ^

Listening to that group of know-nothings squeal like a pack of monkeys probably improves Kiffin's stock in the eyes of most folks.

If this is such a stupid hire and this guy is so incompetent and so dirty and the NCAA hammer is coming we will find out soon enough. I've learned over the years though that the people who shout the loudest do so for a reason (it ain't because they have the best argument).


January 14th, 2010 at 7:11 PM ^

If and when USC gets the hammer, they will have a clear scapegoat--Kiffin---who's already the subject of huge controversy and did have something to do with Bush when Reggie was getting extra cake.

Even though it's Carroll and USC as an institution that are responsible, USC could soon fire Kiffin and give the impression of "cleaning house" in response to severe sanctions. In fact, it's not an unknown practice in corporate america to hire somebody that you plan to use as a scapegoat. What a tragic irony it would be for Kiffin to get the job of his dreams only to find it's his ultimate undoing!

Probably USC will not do this and may not have even thought of doing so (so far they do not seem bright enough). But you gotta far, the whole crazy business is turning into the kind of the story that ends up in the movies, as art imitates life.


January 14th, 2010 at 7:24 PM ^

The actual story happening in reality is not all that interesting. USC already has a pretty good idea what they are facing from the NCAA (and AD Mike Garrett was just quoted as saying they feel they "have a strong case"). One player (Reggie Bush) and now possibly two (if McKnight's baby's momma's car gets rolled into this) probably got paid by separate guys who wanted to bribe them to become their agent (just like Charles Woodson did when he was at Michigan). There doesn't appear to be any evidence that USC knew what was going on and there is a (in my view) strong argument that they shouldn't be held responsible for not knowing (I can think of no standard procedure that would have discovered either set of benefits that wouldn't be extremely costly, burdensome, and invasive to anyone who happens to know a student athlete).

The level of wrongdoing does not amount to an "institution-wide cheatfest" as Brian claims on the front page of this blog and the sanctions (if any) will be minor barring unknown/new evidence or a massive shift in the level of monitoring the NCAA is going to require programs to do on the friends and families of student athletes.


January 14th, 2010 at 8:03 PM ^

Recall that ROJO told English he wanted to go to UM the last week of his recruitment---then suddently and unexpectedly, when the two met, the Mother went bananas---she despreately wanted ROJO to go to a school thousands of miles away. How many moms want their kids to go thousands of miles away, seriously? I am not sure, but I thought I heard the mom either moved to USC to be with him or something like that. If so, would that remind you of anybody? Is it mere coincidence that a middling coach driven out of NE during the collapse of the Patriots--would suddenly start drawing a top recruiting class with more 5*s than anybody else in the coutry at a school that was, at that time, pretty mediocre?

I don't have a lot of proof. But, personally, I don't believe in coincidences.


January 14th, 2010 at 8:58 PM ^

You find it that hard to believe that a head coach with a winning record in the NFL with pedigree/connections to the Forty Niner dynasty and Bill Belichick and by all accounts a high quality defensive mind, taking over one of the very top programs in the history of college football could have success and draw recruits? Not to mention his staff had a top recruiter like Ed Orgeron and basically the best offensive coordinator in the history of college football. This doesn't even take into account Pete's very charismatic and infectious personality as both a recruiter and a coach. Oh yeah, and southern California has as much if not more talent in their backyard than any program in America. Throw in LA, star power like Will Ferrell and Snoop Dogg, and you are surprised 5-star kids wanted to go to SC? Frankly, I'm surprised they don't all do it. You should read Barry Switzer's many comments about the USC coaching job.

The RoJo story is one of those urban legends some of us tell ourselves to feel better about losing a top recruit. Do you find it hard to believe that she would rather live with her son in LA than stay in Muskegon or move to Ann Arbor? People move out of Michigan all the time. Donovan Warren's mom let him move thousands of miles away, too. Should we assume he is "on the take" as well?


January 14th, 2010 at 9:55 PM ^

a. many parents cannot afford to move eg bush's parents without getting a $700,000 house rent free

b. many have other family in the area and do not want to move for that reason. In any case, you'd have to be a complete dufus not to recognize that mothers generally do not like their sons to move away.

c. Donovan came here but there is no claim of extra benefits being given. By contrast, USC now has at least three documented cases in this administration of extra benefits---where there is smoke there may be fire

d. Carroll's main connection to Bilichik is that he left him with a team that went 2-10 the first year. IMO being from NE, many of us thought Carroll was a terrible coach and the Pats progressively deteriorated under him. By contrast, after he left the team in shambles, they rebuilt within a few years and they started winning super bowls.


January 14th, 2010 at 11:12 PM ^

A. You have no idea what sort of living arrangement RoJo's mother has in Los Angeles (I don't even know for a fact that she lives in LA but I will concede the point). You don't know where she lives, how much it costs, or what her financial statement is/was prior to her son's commitment. Lots of parents follow their children to college (for reasons as simple as to get in-state tuition for their kids) and I don't know why you would assume RoJo's mother wouldn't be able to afford to move.

B. Mothers don't want their children to move away from them. I get that. RoJo did not move away from his mother. They moved together and she possibly saved money in the process since she no longer had to pay to food, house, clothe, etc. her son who would now be receiving his room and board from USC as part of his legitimate scholarship arrangement.

C. Michigan had at least five documented/alleged (the Bush and McKnight cases are still just allegations) cases of extra benefits while Lloyd Carr (the coach Warren committed to) was at Michigan (4 UM b-ball players and Charles Woodson). More smoke, no fire?

D. I could care less about the Patriots. Obviously it all worked out for you guys but to act like Carroll's success at SC is unfathomable is really a stretch. EDIT: For some reason I apparently thought that Carroll had been an assistant under Belichick somewhere. Way off. My apologies.


January 14th, 2010 at 7:26 PM ^

Most USC folks have had a wait and see approach with respect to the hire (though some don't like it no matter what) and are much less thrilled knowing it will be a Chow-less staff. Especially since SC was going after Chow before they hired Kiffin and the Kiffin/Chow relationship at least appears to be the reason the deal didn't get done (SC was in a position to offer much more money than UCLA is currently paying Norm).


January 14th, 2010 at 7:41 PM ^

Oddly, Kiffin had recently taken a lot of criticism for accusing Meyer of violations similar to what he just did himself. In a "do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do address to a group of Tenn boosters, he derided Meyer’s contact of a recruit who was still on the Tenn campus.

Kiffin said: "Just so you know, when a recruit's on another campus, you can't call a recruit on another campus. I love the fact that Urban had to cheat, and still didn't get him [Richardson]."

Well, Wrong-Lane Kiffin turned out to be wrong. He had to humbly apologize to Meyer and the SEC. So you might guess he learned his lesson—ie the lesson that you can legally skirt the rules in this way…..In fact, he seemed to do so when he recently let Orgeron contact commits now on the Tenn campus.

But not so fast my friends….as usual, Kiffen did not yet grasp the fine points.He was not just repeating the non-violation that he accused Urban Meyer turns out that he and Orgeron did violate NCAA rules if they tried to recruit students at Tenn—in fact, get them to decommit and not enroll—if the students had already signed into a dorm on campus. Or in the words of the times:
“ They screwed the pooch if any of those kids was signed into a dormitory on opening day.”


January 14th, 2010 at 7:55 PM ^

"This is a Bruin football town, and has been a Bruin football town, and will continue to be a Bruin football town as long as the Bruins continue running the consistent, directed program so lacking across town." Bill Plaschke Oct 25, 2001

The quote isn't entirely relevant, but our Freep experience should teach us about papers with an axe to grind and the LA Times essentially set up a sting operation to find out whether Joe McKnight ever drove his girlfriend's car. Mainly I just wanted to point out what an idiot Bill Plaschke is.


January 14th, 2010 at 8:37 PM ^

That's a fair and valid point PurpleStuff. Speaking for myself, I've gotten much of my research via the LA Times. Bearing in mind I don't know their writers well enough to have an historical understanding of any bias they may have (the 'consider the source' voice). It's unfortunate and jaded that in this day and age one cannot necessarily take 'news' at face value which is of particular relevance when gleaning information from another news market.


January 15th, 2010 at 3:10 PM ^

Jealousy - pure and simple.

What has Lane Kiffin done that others wouldn't have? Nothing.

At 34, he's already been an offensive coordinator and position coach at one of the all-time top programs in college football, during one of it's most successful runs. He's been an NFL coach, and he has coached at one of the better programs in the SEC. Not bad, that's more than most of us can say.

Has he deserved those positions. One: It's irrelevant! Two: One can make the argument that he has. Lets look at the irrelevant factor first. Let me ask a simple question, if you had been a collegiate assistant for less,than a decade, having served no higher than as an offensive coordinator, and an NFL team (albeit the Raiders) wanted to hire you as their head coach and significantly increase your pay - you'd take that job every time it was offered. He saw an opportunity to move up to the next level both in job and environment, increase his pay, and stay in the same state he'd lived in for quite some time. Smart move on his part (except it's the Raiders). Having one 15 games in the previous 5 seasons before he arrived, he did no worse than Norv Turner, Bill Callahan and Art Shell. Keep in mind, Norv Turner has the Chargers as one of the best teams in the NFL, and Art Shell had a successful run in his first stint with the Raiders. So its a hellish job.

Then Tennessee came to hire him. He was the anti-Phil Fulmer, who had seen the program slip in the previous four years (including two losing seasons). He was energetic, and a great recruiter. Now, let's make an important point here - RECRUITING IS ESSENTIAL TO BEING A SUCCESSFUL COLLEGE COACH!! In fact, it might be more important at that level than X's and O's. (Why do you think so many small college coaches fail when they move up). And in the SEC, if you can't recruit, Florida and Alabama and LSU will eat you alive, particularly when your state isn't loaded with talent (compared to Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, etc). He ran a successful offense at USC (something Fulmer didn't have unless he had Cutcliffe as OC or Peyton under center) and recruited well. Perfect fit, he took it. You would have too.

Then USC comes calling. If USC was his dream job, and it is one of the best jobs in the country, you'd take it too. You get more money, to coach at a more successful program, where you were once an assistant, and you spent much of the last fifteen years in California, where there is more instate talent, and an easier conference schedule (WSU, UW, UCLA), you take that job.

As for what he's done. Well, apparently we saw the success of the USC offense when he was and wasn't there. Pretty good job. The WR he's coached have been pretty good. He obviously knows how to interview to get these coaching jobs. He's impressed the right people to get the recommendations he's received, and his actually coaching hasn't been any worse than those who proceeded him. Besides, he took over the Raiders - who can win there (worse than the Lions), and instantly improved Tennessee (both in wins and recruits).

As for the USC job and their upcoming punishment from the NCAA. Let's look at three of the stiffest penalties in the last ten years in collegiate athletics. Baylor basketball (with no non-conference schedule for two years): That tale was so sordid I can't even distinguish between what is real and what isn't. Michigan basketball - most of the penalties were self imposed and done so very harshly to prevent further sanctions. The Ed Martin scandal was so widespread and involved so many and so embarrassing, we are lucky it wasn't worse. Alabama football: harsh sanctions that they had started to recover from under Shula, and the affects were gone by the time Saban arrived. But key here, this was there second or third major series of infractions in about ten years. USC hasn't already been nailed by the NCAA. Plus, death penalties CANNOT happen any more. With almost every game televised, harshly punishing USC hurts all their opponents as well, particularly the Pac 10.

Finally, all Lane Kiffin has done to the kids is teach them a lesson in life. When opportunity knocks, you answer the door. You have goals and you move in such a way to get them. Hey, is anyone at Tennessee cursing Eric Kelly (S) for leaving early? What about his teammates they should ask? What about the fact that for three years he's received a free education. His goal is the NFL, he's good enough now, he's gone. At least Lane Kiffin didn't lie to his players for weeks telling them he wasn't leaving for another school, and then leaves for that school (Brian Kelly). It has been less than seven days since the job at USC came open to the time he accepted. At least he didn't lie to their faces and then bolt. I respect him much more than Brian Kelly and other coaches who've done that (like Nick Satan ... er, Saban).

(yes, some of these are points Colin Cowherd and others have made. This might be the first time I've ever agreed with Colin ... scary).


January 15th, 2010 at 8:07 PM ^

I will not question your motivations for trying to build Kiffin up. God knows, he needs all the help he can get.

Yet, your techniques for doing so are so shallow and misleading that they do more to entertain than to persuade. First, you are creating a straw man to tear down when you say Kiffin just took advantage of opportunities as anyone would. Who's criticizing him for taking advantage of opportunities? Certainly, I'm not. Nor do I hear that from the other posters.

Then, you lump all the critics together and try to dismiss them by childishly calling them names, like “jealous”. Granted, in theory, “jealous” could be a valid characterization of critics who are making the argument that a coach with a distinguished record is really a failure. But that’s not the case. As such, falsely portraying their argument, then calling them “jealous” is no more than a sleazy PR technique for attacking the opposition when you really have no good argument against their main points.

In fact, your argument even then would be quite weak. Seriously, would be quite a stretch to call Kiffin’s record distinguished. Your evidence is pretty weak. You throw around a bunch of glittering generalities about Kiffin’s accomplishments, by comparing his record to much bigger coaching failures and explaining a bunch of mitigating circumstances. You do make the point that his undistinguished record may be understandable. OK. But that does not suddenly make it distinguished.

Yes, you state correctly that his career has had a meteoric rise…without acknowledging the role of his star father coming as a package deal with him. In any case, a meteoric rise does not a giant make. People like Dan Quayle, former VP under the first George Bush, also had a metoric rise. Remember him? He’s the guy who believed he was a good person to do diplomacy with Latin America, since he learned Latin in school. (It's almost as bad as not knowing the difference between the term “one” and “won,” and using the terms interchangeably, but who would do that?).

More seriously, you seem to be attempting to reframe and hijack this thread. If you consider Kiffin a great success, fine…..But who cares whether he is or not? That’s not the issue. Your obsession with the argument of his success is little more than a diversion from the main point of the thread: Kiffin’s integrity.

You ignore the substance of many of the criticisms listed below: eg his spinning or lying, recruiting violations, and public accusations of other coaches for recruiting violations that aren’t violations--then his doing something similar in a way that probably is a violation.

Ultimately, however, the more I think about it, I guess I agree with your implied point that Kiffin is a great choice for USC coach. He is an ideal choice--for USC's competitors.