Lane Kiffin: Is He Coach of the Year?

Jonny SAnalyst INovember 13, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 13:  USC Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin cheers on his team during their game against the California Golden Bears at AT&T Park on October 13, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The USC Trojans and Lane Kiffin have a lot of haters, but that hasn't stopped USC from having an incredible season. USC smashed Washington this weekend, 40-17, and the game wasn't even that close.

USC dominated the game, especially on defense. The Trojans now find themselves with an 8-2 record and seem to be playing better each week.

Sadly, because of sanctions, USC is not getting much national attention, and Kiffin is not receiving the credit he deserves.

SEC fans, especially Tennessee folks, hate the guy and will probably never forgive him. But the fact is he has been very successful so far at USC, and has this team playing with more heart than anyone expected.

They have nothing to play for—only for each other and pride—yet here they are, winning and improving.

The triple OT loss a few weeks ago to Stanford could have very well been the dagger in USC's season. Instead, they have responded with two consecutive and impressive wins.

The offense is getting better, the special teams are the best they have ever been, and the defense has improved in every single game.

Washington's star running back, Chris Polk, who has already passed the 1000-yard mark this season, was held to just 36 yards rushing by the Trojans. The defensive line came up with seven sacks, and the secondary may have had its most complete game yet.

This brings me to Coach Kiffin and why he should be considered as a Coach of the Year candidate.

Not only has USC exceeded everyone's expectations, they have played with great heart and played the right way. There have been no off-the-field issues so far, and it seems as though the players are buying into Kiffin and his staff's methods.

USC has dealt with a lot of changes these past few seasons and have really had to rebuild. Kiffin is playing a significant amount of freshman and sophomores. In doing so, he knows they will make mistakes but will also be better for it in the long run.

The most impressive thing I have noticed about Kiffin's coaching this season is how he has adapted the Trojans' style to their personnel. A perfect example of this is shown with the position change of linebacker Dion Bailey.

Bailey was recruited as a safety, and is built like a safety. He weighs about 200 pounds; vastly undersized for a linebacker. Yet Kiffin knew what USC needed—speed at the linebacker position.

Kiffin moved Bailey to linebacker, and boy has it paid off.

Not only is Bailey the leading tackler for the Trojans this season, but he has also created several turnovers for the defense. When this move was first announced, people were talking about how Kiffin had no idea what he was doing and he was ruining this kid's career.

It's okay to say you're sorry, Trojans fans.

Lane Kiffin will never win Coach of the Year, and will likely receive no positive attention for the job he is doing with this youthful team. But at this point, I don't think he cares anymore.

He is 8-2 and proving everyone wrong each week. The team is playing for nothing yet looks like it's playing for everything. Despite everyone laughing in Kiffin's face, and alumni and Trojans "supporters" constantly talking about his future replacement, he continues to win.

The scary part for the rest of the nation is—USC is a very young team. If quarterback Matt Barkley stays for his senior season, you're talking about a Top 10, maybe Top Five team next season. But even if he does go to the NFL, I have a feeling Kiffin will figure out how to keep racking up W's. 

Coach Kiffin is currently 16-7 at USC in his first 23 games. Pete Carroll by the way, was 17-8 after his first two seasons—and he didn't have to deal with sanctions.