Wednesday, January 13, 2010

USC makes a Lane change
Has this movie played before at Heritage Hall? USC attempts to hire a coach for its football team. It makes offers to three candidates, all of whom turn down the Trojans. Then the school hires a fourth-round pick. It happened nine years ago when Pete Carroll came to Los Angeles.
And it happened yesterday when Lane Kiffin was named as Carroll's replacement.
What's flabbergasting is USC practically fired Kiffin three years ago when he was USC's offensive coordinator. Through some vague backroom maneuvering, he was cast off to the Oakland Raiders, then moved on to Tennessee after Al Davis had had enough of his poorly thought-out experiment.
Now Kiffin is returning to L.A., bringing a number of respected assistant coaches with him. But the issue is that USC got caught with its pants down. It should have seen Carroll's departure coming and had a viable candidate ready to step in.
Carroll had been wooed year-after-year by the NFL to leave USC after a successful season. But he always turned down the offers. USC was lulled into a false sense of security. Carroll even admitted that he thought the opportunity to go back to the pros had passed him by.
Now he's gone to Seattle and national letter of intent day is three weeks away. Mike Riley gets an extension at Oregon State. Jack Del Rio stays put at Jacksonville and Mike Bellotti, Jon Gruden and Chris Petersen all say no to Mike Garrett.
A desperate Garrett, trying to save face and those recruits ready to bolt to other programs, hires back a coach he says he has always respected. If that's the case, why was Kiffin let go three years ago?
Maybe it will work out, like in the movies. John Robinson followed John McKay back in the mid-1970s and won a national championship and a Rose Bowl. But it's a strange time for the men and women at Troy.


Add Kiffin: The beneficiary of USC's coaching caper could be Rick Neuheisel and the UCLA Bruins. UCLA defeated Tennessee in September of last year at Knoxville, an impressive win for Neuheisel. So it's UCLA 1, Kiffin 0. Recruits who were leaning toward USC and attracted to Carroll may now be thinking the Bruins might be a better fit, especially if Norm Chow stays in Westwood for another season.
The thinking here is Chow will stay with Neuheisel, especially if it looks like USC's troubles with the NCAA escalate into probation land.


Wedding bells: Congratulations to Maggie and Phil Coburn, who were married last Saturday at Our Lady of Grace Church in Encino. Following the ceremony, which was performed by Msgr. Craig Cox, the happy couple were toasted at a luncheon reception at the home of the bride's parents. They will honeymoon in Hawaii this week.

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