Kiffin received the news of the decision early Sunday morning from athletic director Pat Haden at USC’s private airport terminal at the Los Angeles after the team arrived back from Arizona.
In his press conference after the team’s second loss against a Pac-12 opponent this season, he talked about being on the “hot seat” as the USC’s head coach.
“I’m fine with that,” Kiffin said. “I have been dealing with that for 12 months. That’s fine. That’s the last thing I’m worried about. We have to find a way to coach better and play better and get our backups ready.”
He was in his fourth year with the university with a compiled record of 28-15 and a 17-12 in PAC-12 conference play. Haden has chosen Ed Orgeron, who was Kiffin’s assistant head coach and also former head coach of the University of Mississippi, to step in as the USC’s interim head coach.
Kiffin was hired at USC after the NCAA imposed sanctions that included as a result to a four-year investigation that found former running back Reggie Bush received financial benefits from a two sports agents while playing at the university from 2003-2005. The punishment included a two-year bowl ban, loss of 30 scholarships over a three-year span, vacation of all wins the wins that Bush played a part in which also entailed the program’s 55-19 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners in the 2005 Orange Bowl National Championship.
Kiffin led USC to winning records in his first two seasons under sanctions at 8-5 in 2010 and followed 10-2 in 2011. Heading into the 2012 season, which was the first year post the two-year bowl ban, the Trojans were ranked preseason No.1 in the coach’s poll but the program was unable to live up to expectations by becoming the first team in about half-century to finish the season unranked with a 7-6 record.
After beginning the season with a 6-1 record USC fell down the stretch losing their last five out of six games that included notable losses such as the 38-28 defeat to crosstown rival UCLA, a 61-52 shootout loss to the Oregon Ducks, a 22-12 loss to then-ranked No.1 Norte Dame, and capped of the year with a 21-7 letdown to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
As for this season, Kiffin had not faired well even with lowered expectations by the media with a 24th ranking in the coaches preseason poll along with being picked to finish third in the Pac-12 South division. Before Saturday’s loss, the Trojans have had issues with their passing game struggling to throw the ball down field and scoring points against middle of the pack collegiate defenses.
The difficulties have become such a large issue as many members of the media had blamed Kiffin’s play calling for the team’s inability to move the ball down the field in the passing attack. It all seemed to come to a head on Saturday evening as they again struggled to pass the ball and fell behind by as many as 27 points.
After the firing of Kiffin, it has opened speculation to potential candidates for the head coaching position and at this current juncture, the most notable name being tossed around is Jack Del Rio, who is in his second season as the Denver Broncos defensive coordinator and is also USC Alum.
Although the university is likely to target Del Rio it has been reported that he will stay with the Broncos throughout the remainder of this season regardless if he takes the head coaching vacancy with USC or any other position that he may accept for the 2014 season.
It now appears that USC is now in a position where their future is up in the air and with the team having a bye this upcoming week, it be interesting to see what the Trojans do with this extended time before their next game on Oct. 10 at home against the Arizona Wildcats.
Photo Credit: Reuters
Bob Garcia IV
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