USC fires Lane Kiffin after 3-2 start, names Ed Orgeron interim coach
USC fired head football coach Lane Kiffin early Sunday morning following the Trojans’ 62-41 loss to Arizona State on Saturday, the team announced.
USC athletic director Pat Haden informed Kiffin of his termination after the team’s flight back to Los Angeles from Tempe, Ariz. In his afternoon press conference, Haden announced that former Ole Miss coach and current USC defensive line coach Ed Orgeron has been named the interim coach.
The Trojans’ loss to the Sun Devils on Saturday tied the mark for most points given up by the program in a loss (62 points). The result dropped the Trojans to 3-2 on the year, with both losses coming against Pac-12 foes. In all, USC has lost seven of its last 11 games under Kiffin, including four against ranked opponents. Kiffin’s overall record in four seasons at USC was 28-15.
Kiffin arrived at USC in 2010 after two short stints with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and the Tennessee Volunteers. The Trojans were hit with NCAA sanctions stemming from the previous era under Pete Carroll, which included the loss of 30 scholarships over three years and a two-year postseason ban. Nevertheless, Kiffin finished 8-5 in his first season at the helm, jumped to 10-2 in 2011 — a mark that included a win over No. 4 Oregon — and headed into the 2012 campaign with the preseason No. 1 team in the AP Poll.
The 2012 season didn’t pan out as expected. After a 6-1 start, USC dropped five of its final six games, including a loss to crosstown rival UCLA for the first time in five years, to finish 7-6. The Trojans capped their 2012 effort with a 21-7 Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech.
Heading into 2013, pressured on Kiffin mounted. Still, just before the season, Haden released a video statement in which he reiterated that Kiffin was not on the hot seat.
I anticipate the media will ask me if our football coach is on the hot seat this year. Here is my answer, and it will be my answer whenever I’m asked: He is not. I’m behind Lane Kiffin 100 percent. I have great confidence in him. He’s a very hard-working, detail-oriented coach. He’s a dynamic play-caller in my estimation, and he’s an exceptional recruiter. He knows USC and he knows what it takes to be successful here.
After USC’s Week 2 loss to Washington State, reports surfaced that the Trojans held a players-only meeting, a report which Kiffin denied. USC wide receiver Marqise Lee told reporters that the meeting did happen, saying, “Kiffin didn’t know.”
To many, the 2013 season was to be Kiffin’s true test of adversity as a head coach. The son of NFL coaching legend Monte Kiffin, the younger Kiffin rose in the coaching profession at a meteoric pace, something often attributed to his family name. After six seasons as an assistant at USC under Carroll, Kiffin became an NFL head coach with the Raiders at 31, a head coach in the SEC with Tennessee at 33 and the headman at USC at 34.
The question now is where USC goes from here. The Trojans’ job is regarded as one of the most coveted positions in the country, and many names have popped up as potential candidates for the job, including Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, Washington coach Steve Sarkisian — a former USC assistant — and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald.