On Jan.12, 2010, USC announced Lane Kiffin as the head coach of the USC football program.
The decision left some scratching their heads. Sure, Kiffin had previously been involved with the football team serving under then-head coach Pete Carroll. Most Trojan fans, however, questioned Kiffin’s ability to handle a top football program like USC.
After leaving USC following the 2006 season, Kiffin sought greener pastures in the NFL. Hired as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2007, Kiffin led the team to a disastrous 4-12 season. Kiffin’s sophomore season seemed just as lackluster, only winning one of four games before his dismissal as head coach.
Kiffin returned to college football as head coach for the Tennessee Volunteers. In 2009, the Volunteers finished 7-6 and suffered a devastating loss in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl game against Virginia Tech.
Kiffin parted ways with Tennessee in early 2010 and packed his bags to return to USC. This time, Kiffin would be in charge. Of course, controversy plagued the arrival of Kiffin because of the surfacing of allegations stemming from his time at Tennessee.
Two seasons later, Kiffin has since proven the critics wrong during his time as head coach.
In his inaugural season, Kiffin led the Trojans to an 8-5 season, in which two of the five losses were due to last-minute field goals. Kiffin also became the first coach since Jess Hill, in 1951, to start the season 4-0, in his first season as head coach. Under Kiffin, the Trojans improved greatly from the 2009 season and averaged six yards per play.
In 2011, Kiffin led the Trojans to a 10-2 season, and a monumental victory over the Oregon Ducks, one of the top teams in the country. USC, the outright winner of the south division in the Pac-12 conference, was primed to compete with the Ducks once more had it not been for the two-year postseason ban, handed down by the NCAA from violations committed during the previous coaching era.
The Trojans averaged 294.2 passing yards and 162.6 rushing yards per game, proving that the Trojans are back on top of the college football elite.
2012 begins a new era for USC football.
No longer prohibited from postseason play, Kiffin has the opportunity to potentially play for the Pac-12 conference championship and the 2013 national championship.
Kiffin has an arsenal of returning players for the 2012 season, including many incoming top recruits.
Of the four juniors eligible for the NFL draft, only two, offensive tackle Matt Kalil and defensive end Nick Perry, opted to go pro. Quarterback Matt Barkley and safety T.J. McDonald chose to return for their senior seasons. Both players had outstanding seasons in 2011, earning numerous awards and accolades, encouraging fans to think of what is to come in 2012.
With Barkley and McDonald returning, the notion of the 2013 national championship and the imminent rise of the Kiffin dynasty is not too far-fetched.
The arrival of Kiffin has recharged the Trojan fan base, setting their sights on postseason play for the first time in two years and the possibility of a trip to Miami in 2013.
With all the right pieces of the puzzle intact, only time will tell if Kiffin’s visor will be gold plated or thrown away.
Andie Hagemann is a senior majoring in communication. Her column “Armchair Quarterback” runs Tuesdays.