It's Good to Be the Kiffin: USC Deal Reportedly Worth $4 Million Per Year

Update: On Tuesday, ESPN's Bruce Feldman tweets that, according to a source, Kiffin is not making $4 million. "He’s not making close to that," Feldman writes. Original story follows.

It's become apparent that the normal rules of college football (and/or life) simply do not apply to Lane Kiffin. How else are we supposed to explain his absurdly rich deal with USC? (Bolding mine.)

⇥⇥[HBO's Real Sports] reveals Kiffin is making approximately $4 million per year, which is slightly less than what Carroll made at about $4.4 million annually, according to the Orange County Register. USC does not release its employees' salaries because it is a private university.
Not many coaches make $4 million a year, and those that do have things like accomplishments and national championships to fall back on. Nick Saban signed a deal worth somewhere between $4 million and $4.7 million a year before piloting Alabama to a title. Mack Brown makes $5.1 million a year. Urban Meyer makes $4 million per year. In fact, if the report is correct, Kiffin's deal definitely puts him in the top ten of college football coaches based on take-home pay, and perhaps in the top five, behind Brown, Saban, Meyer, and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, who all make $4 million or more.

It's "absurdly rich" because the qualifications of the other coaches on the $4 million plateau are insane. All of those coaches have produced at least one national championship, multiple BCS title game appearances, multiple ten-win seasons, a Heisman winner, and a slew of All-Americans and NFL draftees who went through four years under the coach.

Kiffin has a 7-6 record in the college ranks and a 12-18 record as a head coach. His Tennessee team lost by 23 to Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. His swift exits from his first two head coaching jobs have been followed by accusations of chicanery and a small-scale "riot." He's the Anna Kournikova of football: famous for being compelling and interesting, with a resume slimmer than a supermodel and a reputation based on glitz, not greatness. (And if you want to rail against exorbitant salaries for college football coaches, Kiffin, a virtuoso at spinning mediocrity and fascination into potential brilliance, is your target.)

USC can justify paying Kiffin like a king—and his staff like princes; Monte Kiffin's reportedly making "around" $2 million as USC's defensive coordinator—because it makes money hand over fist from football. The school raked in $28.6 million in football revenue in 2008 and has likely hovered around that figure since Pete Carroll rebuilt the Trojans dynasty. By giving Kiffin the keys to Carroll's castle and all the spoils that come with it, USC is hoping to maintain that incredible level of success and the revenues that follow.

No one knows if Kiffin will be able to keep USC atop the Pac-10 and in the national championship hunt, though, because he's simply never done anything to prove he can. He's got every coach he might possibly need to maintain the USC dynasty, from a crack defensive coordinator (Monte Kiffin) to a gung-ho recruiter (Ed Orgeron), and will enjoy all the advantages of the So-Cal lifestyle that Carroll milked to perfection. 

There are no excuses for Lane Kiffin to fail at USC except his own incompetence. Not at that price tag, at least. But USC believes he won't, either because they have some sense of USC supremacy or the utmost confidence in a guy who's left skid marks and underwhelming teams behind him. 

Trojans fans better hope their school is right.


This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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