clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Hot seat or not, USC's Lane Kiffin is just pre-heating the oven

Not so fast, my friend. Lane Kiffin deserves more time to prove he's the right man for the Trojans.

Stephen Dunn

Rather than wait for columnists to bait readers into blind Internet anger, we at SB Nation believe in setting the curve ourselves and doing so honestly. On Troll Tuesdays , we attempt to construct the most obnoxious column on earth. Today it is time to talk about Lane Kiffin, builder of empires.

There's an old proverb that says good things come to those who wait. Why then are fans so impatient when it comes to crafting football dynasties?

The Coliseum wasn't built in a day. It takes time and vision to execute a plan, and wouldn't you know it, USC head coach Lane Kiffin has plenty of both.

Kiffin is not one of those fly-by-night old coaches you see out there. He's no Bill Snyder, waiting to collect AARP checks at the slightest chance of trouble. He's more like the Wolf from Pulp Fiction, moving quietly and silently around the Chinese checkers board while the rest of college football is playing tiddlywinks.

I hear the folks saying, "Lane Isn't Loyal," (and there's your free bumper sticker idea -- just buy me a Stroh's when you see me over at Jasper's Lounge). But you're plumb missing the point. To win Chinese checkers, you've got to hop around. Kiffin isn't going to back himself into a home corner.

Sure, last season was tough, but you have to give up a couple pieces to execute a trap.

With the landscape of college football changing, Kiffin is still making prestigious bowl games, recruiting his tail off and cutting dead weight. This isn't the scorched-earth policy of the SEC or the aged-cheese process of the Big Ten. This is the Pac-12, where innovation reigns supreme.

Any coach can win once. But true winners come once in a lifetime.

USC's head coach is taking the necessary steps to make the once-proud Trojan program what it used to be. Historic. Vaunted. Feared.

Fall isn't for the Roman Empire. Fall is for football. Bury the past and look toward tomorrow. That's what Kiffin has decided to do.

Take, for instance, the team's 2012 Sun Bowl appearance. Many fans were ready to call it quits with Kiffin for good after what they perceived as a disappointing finish to a promising season. But continued calls into the matter lead me to believe the Sun Bowl recently was in talks to receive an influx of cash from the Mexican pharmaceutical company Questellas, which would make it the highest-paying sponsor of bowl season.

I'm not saying Coach Kiffin knew about these talks and led USC to the Sun Bowl to lay the foundation for the game's meteoric rise in the next 10 years, but I'm not saying he wasn't aware either.

This is just another in a long line of calculated moves that Kiffin has made to shake up the game as we know it:

  • The internet age is one of short snippets sound bytes and buzzwords. Well, Lane Kiffin was Harlem Shaking long before the Georgia swim team did. He found a way to streamline his interviews down to 30 seconds into YouTube-friendly moments. Some say cutting off reporters, but what's to say that's not just a revolutionary nanointerview? When Steve Spurrier does it next year, the East coast-biased will call him a true gamechanger, but remember who was there first.
  • When the Trojans gave up almost a half-mile of offense to the Oregon Ducks, USC faithful were ready to grab their torches and pitchforks. But who's laughing now? You don't flail aimlessly against a bear. You go limp. That bear, Chip Kelly, was so full of himself and honey he stuck right to the Philadelphia Eagles. Looks like Mr. Kiffin's been brushing up on his Lao Tzu.
  • Recruiting five-year-old kids may seem like a gimmick, but USC's advanced scouting is on a whole other level. The team is working closely with the sociology, astrology and physics departments to develop a computer rendering system that can create predictive models down to .00001 percent as to a child's future. The technology is up for a number of patents and is also believed to be the inspiration for the hit CBS show Person of Interest.
  • Hiring your dad may seem like nepotism, but Lane Kiffin is deeply involved in the community. He knows how important connections and bridging the generational gap is. Rather than ignore the elderly, Lane knows how much our Greatest Generation can truly teach us. Pioneers learn from the past, or they are destined to repeat it.
  • Changing numbers mid-game? Deflating footballs? Cheap tactics to some, but everybody's looking for an edge. While you're focused on Kiffin's ways of gaining a tactical advantages, in this copycat league, he's already moved onto the next big things -- the barking dog technique, thumbtack gloves and go-karts.
  • And you thought the rope-a-dope was just for boxing. Kiffin showed how cerebral he really is, by lulling the media to sleep in telling them he wouldn't vote the Trojans number one and then striking like a coiled cobra with that #1. Play fake, indeed.

My son Charlie used to play a game on the Macintosh called Sim City 2000. In the game he had to build a city from the ground up, deciding everything from power to entertainment. Heck, he even had his very own football stadium.

Thinking about the USC football team makes me think about Charlie sitting in front of that warm glow in the upstairs office. To me, it was just a game, but to Charlie, it was another world. I couldn't understand it, and maybe that's how it was supposed to be.

Lane Kiffin isn't coaching USC for the old fogeys like me. He's coaching for the kids who aren't even born yet. The ones who wouldn't know a football from a foot.

I thought my son was just playing a game, but he was building an empire.

Just like someone else we know. Someone in the heart of Los Angeles.