The AD Changes, But Kiffin Doesn’t
Pat Haden, meet Lane Kiffin.
Seriously, Pat, this is the REAL Lane Kiffin. Not the guy who talked so politely and said all the right things, assuring you he’d be on his best behavior after you called him upon taking the USC athletic director’s job.
This is the Kiffin who just can’t help himself. The one always looking for that extra edge. The guy who finds trouble as easily as the rest of us find traffic jams on our morning commute.
Kiffin’s latest transgression is a beaut. No one is criticizing him for hiring Kennedy Pola, who happens to be a fine assistant coach who was wildly popular in his previous tenure with the Trojans.
It is the WAY he hired him. You see, he sort of slipped through the back door when nobody was looking and stole him away from the Tennessee Titans. And he waited to do it until a week before NFL training camps were due to open.
Is it any wonder Titans’ coach Jeff Fisher, a USC alum, by the way, is irate? He pointed out Kiffin never made the customary call all coaches are supposed to make, asking permission to talk to Pola.
Nope, good, ol’, stretch-the-rules Lane didn’t follow any of that protocol. He just quietly lured Pola to USC by naming him offensive coordinator, a promotion the Titans’ assistant couldn’t refuse.
Now, not surprisingly, the Titans are suing Kiffin and USC for “maliciously” luring Pola away, leaving the NFL team without a running backs coach only a few days before camp starts.
I’m not sure the litigation ever will reach court. In Tennessee, where Kiffin already is a certified villain for leaving the football Vols to come to USC after only a year on the job, they don’t need added reasons to dislike the Trojans’ new head coach. So public relations-wise, Fisher and the Titans know the area will be thrilled they are suing.
But whether this ever gets to a judge or jury is moot. The real point here is that Kiffin continues to come off like a rebellious teenager who refuses to listen to those who know better.
I mean, timing is everything these days with the Trojans. So why would Kiffin pick such a strange time to hire Pola? His staff, already stronger than the one Pete Carroll worked with a year ago, could have managed fine through the season. Then, when both USC and the Titans had played out their respective schedules, negotiations could have begun.
But n-o-o-o-o-o, Kiffin wants what he wants. And apparently, he wants it now.
Haden, his new boss, already has a huge, new problem on his hands. Coming off the explosive NCAA sanctions and the departure of former AD Mike Garrett, the whole idea is to find some stability and credibility at USC.
Even with all his impressive credentials and acknowledged intelligence, one thing Haden now knows.
It won’t be easy to do with Lane Kiffin around.
— Steve Bisheff