After a long day of watching football, I retired last night shortly before midnight eastern time. Little did I know what would happen while I was sleeping. In a late night (at least for us Easterners) West Coast game, the Arizona State Sun Devils beat up on the USC Trojans 62-41. This morning, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden announced that Lane Kiffin had been relieved as his duties as head coach.
Love him or hate him, Kiffin has been one of the most enigmatic figures in pro sports over the last several years. Whether it was his short tumultuous tenure with the Oakland Raiders, his General Sherman like scorched earth run through Knoxville or his up and down journey with the Trojans, Kiffin has always been a top headline grabber.
On January 12th of 2010, Kiffin returned to coach USC despite the restrictions that had been placed on the program by the NCAA after Pete Carroll ducked out in favor of the NFL. Kiffin peaked in 2011 with a 10-2 record. The Trojans were everybody's pre-season favorite to win the 2012 Championship (even I was guilty of buying into the hype) but they fell flat on their way to a 7-6 season that ended with Kiffin blowing out his coaching staff. This year, the pressure was on Kiffin from the start. After starting out 0-2 in the conference losing to lowly Washington State and getting blown out by Arizona State, it was time for USC and Kiffin to part ways.
If you follow the timeline of @InsideUSC on twitter, the dismissal of Lane Kiffin was either "karma" or a harsh way to treat any human being. I guess that depends on where you stand on the Kiffin like-o-meter. According to this source, the decision to fire Kiffin was made during the third quarter of the Arizona State game. AD Pat Hayden then waited for the team to get back to the airport after their loss and blindsided Kiffin by pulling him off of the team bus and terminating his employment.
So where does USC go now? Do they reach into their past and grab someone with ties to USC? Do they attempt to grab a top assistant from another conference? Do they reach into the mid-majors and try to lure an up-and-comer? It's an interesting question and I'm sure we will delve deeper into that soon but for now let's take a look at some "off the top of the head" prospects to replace Lane….
Steve Sarkisian- Sark coached for USC from 2005 to 2008 before heading off to Washington to become the head man. Sark hasn't had the most success at Washington, but he's hot right now as he has his team at 4-0 and playing their best ball during his tenure.
Cam Cameron- Cameron has some West Coast ties as he's coached the Chargers of the NFL and he also has head coaching experience in college as he's coached Indiana. Currently, he has revived the stagnant LSU offense and turned Zach Mettenberger into one of the best QBs in college football.
Kevin Sumlin- Would he leave A&M? Johnny Manziel should leave for the NFL after this season and we've all seen the holes in the Aggies defense. Sumlin right now is probably the hottest "prospect" in all of coaching but would he leave a quality job like A&M for USC?
Chris Petersen- would a list for any new coaching job be complete without Petersen?
Other possible replacements I've seen floating around the internet include USC alums Jack Del Rio and Jeff Fisher. Stay tuned to Crystal Ball Run for further developments on what is widely thought of as one of the top jobs in all of college football.