Lane Kiffin lobbied to keep his job after the University of Southern California’s football team was routed 62-41 at Arizona State two days ago. Athletic Director Pat Haden decided it was time for a coaching change.
Kiffin, 38, was fired after returning to Los Angeles, where he met with Haden early yesterday morning for about 45 minutes in a private room in the airport. Kiffin leaves USC with a 28-15 record, including a 4-7 mark in the past 11 games.
“Lane was clearly disappointed and battled me,” Haden said at a news conference. “He tried to keep his job and I respect him for that. At the end of the day I think it was the right decision.”
The Trojans are 3-2 this year and have lost both their opening games in Pac-12 conference play for the first time since 2001. USC also lost to Washington State 10-7 on Sept. 7 after opening the season with a 30-13 win in Hawaii.
“This has been brewing for a while but I have been thinking about it since the Hawaii game,” Haden said. “We didn’t feel consistency there. We realize that our history has been great and we need it to be great again.”
Last year, USC started the college football season as the No. 1 team in the country and ended it unranked after losing five of its final six games to finish 7-6.
Assistant head coach Ed Orgeron will replace Kiffin on an interim basis, Haden said. USC has a bye this week before its next game, at home against Arizona on Oct. 10, giving the team added time to make the transition.
“It’s never the perfect time to do these things but I thought it was the right time,” Haden said, adding that the coaching search was for the future. “We’re going to try to find the best coach we can possibly find for USC.”
Four months after Kiffin’s arrival at USC in January 2010, the National Collegiate Athletic Association stripped the Trojans of 30 football scholarships over three seasons and barred them from the postseason for two years following a four-year investigation. A year later, the school lost its appeal against the sanctions, which also included the loss of its 2004 national championship.
Kiffin at age 31 became the youngest coach in the National Football League’s modern era when he joined the Oakland Raiders before the 2007 season. He was fired Sept. 30, 2008, with a 5-15 record and joined the University of Tennessee two months later.
Kiffin lasted one season with the Volunteers before moving to USC as the successor to Pete Carroll, who resigned after nine seasons as Trojans coach to join the Seattle Seahawks. Kiffin was offensive coordinator at USC from 2001-06 under Carroll.
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