Kiffin hired by Southern Cal: 'I really believe this is the only place I would have left to go'

Lane Kiffin leaves UT for USC

Chris Walker reacts to Kiffin's exodus from UT

Students react to Kiffin leaving

No riot on campus, just a little civil disobedience

Lane Kiffin is returning to Southern California as the Trojans’ coach after just one season at Tennessee.

Kiffin was chosen Tuesday to replace Pete Carroll, his mentor and employer for six seasons. Kiffin was the Trojans’ offensive coordinator before his brief stints with the Oakland Raiders and the Vols.

“This was not an easy decision,” he said in a brief press conference on Tennessee’s campus. “I really believe this is the only place I would have left here to go.”

He would not take any other questions.

Kiffin's father, respected defensive coach Monte Kiffin, and longtime USC assistant Ed Orgeron also will leave Tennessee to join him, USC said in a statement.

"Good wishes to coach and everything like that. All we can do is keep working and move forward," said UT linebacker LaMarcus Thompson. first reported the surprising move by Kiffin and the Trojans, who needed just one day to fill one of the most desirable jobs in college football. Carroll formally took over the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday after winning 97 games, seven Pac-10 championships and two national titles over the past nine years.

“We are really excited to welcome Lane Kiffin back to USC,” Trojans athletic director Mike Garrett said. “I was able to watch him closely when he was an assistant with us, and what I saw was a bright, creative young coach who I thought would make an excellent head coach here if the opportunity ever arose. I’m confident he and his staff will keep USC football performing at the high level that we expect.”

The 34-year-old Kiffin is one of Carroll’s top disciples from his nine-year tenure at USC. Kiffin, a former Fresno State quarterback, worked his way up to offensive coordinator in 2005 while also showing impressive skills as the Trojans’ recruiting coordinator after Orgeron’s departure from Los Angeles.

For two seasons, Kiffin shared responsibility for the Trojans’ offense with fellow longtime Carroll assistant Steve Sarkisian, who left USC to take over at Washington after the 2008 season.

Although Kiffin’s forceful personality didn’t make him a beloved figure among players or administrators, he was a key part of the Trojans’ best years under Carroll, coordinating their passing game and providing instruction to quarterbacks Matt Leinart and John David Booty.

Kiffin then became Al Davis’ unusual choice to take over the Oakland Raiders as a 31-year-old coach with almost no NFL experience. He made it through just 20 games before an ugly public firing in which Davis called Kiffin a liar who brought “disgrace” on the Raiders.

Kiffin went 7-6 at Tennessee last season as the youngest head coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision, but he also brought an unwelcome spotlight on the Vols with several minor NCAA violations. He certainly didn’t sound ready to leave after Tennessee’s season ended with a loss to Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl — but the Trojans didn’t have a vacancy then.

“I know there’s a ton of excitement about what we’re doing, and we’re just getting started,” Kiffin said last week.

He returns to USC with the school facing a yearslong NCAA investigation over events during his tenure as an assistant, including Reggie Bush’s final years at the school. While no discipline has been handed down, it’s widely expected to arrive later this year.

Kiffin was suggested as a candidate immediately after Carroll’s departure became official Sunday, but many Trojans thought he wouldn’t be willing or able to leave Tennessee after just one year. Yet several coaches with USC ties said they weren’t interested in the job, including NFL coaches Jeff Fisher and Jack Del Rio and Oregon State coach Mike Riley.

Monte Kiffin will lend his defensive acumen to a school that annually fielded an impressive defense under Carroll, while Orgeron is likely to return to his role as the Trojans’ best recruiter who helped stack Carroll’s early USC teams with a dizzying array of topflight talent.

“Ed did a marvelous job during his previous time at USC, and we all know that Monte is a defensive guru,” Garrett said. “I know Lane will fill out his staff with other outstanding assistants like them, ones who Trojan players and fans will really like.”

© 2010 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Topics

Related Stories

Comments » 1310

classic writes:


TK writes:

whoa....bad...very bad!

jdf writes:


Nomo writes:

That was a quick exit!

one4black writes:


thevoice writes:

If ESPN says it, it must be true.

volhoopsfan001 writes:

Say it ain't so!

RockyTopBoy writes:

Kiffin is an absolute liar. All that talk about rebuilding the program...winning championships...I can't believe Al Davis was right, but he was...this will set us back 4-5 years. Recruits are gone I am sure.

99gator writes:

i don't believe it.

i'm shocked by this.

govols26 writes:

oops, I guess now 100% of vol nation will hate him...

spvol writes:

You gotta be s----- me!

mattnchatt writes:

WTF!!! I hope to God this is not true. If he leaves we'll be decimated. This is the worst news possible for Vol football.

volsn3 writes:


VolFanNC writes:


rockytothetop writes:

What a freakin joke

jdf writes:

he better get his butt out of tn right now if this is true


Kiff is no longer our little PUNK! I knew it was going to happen when 10 people turned down USC and they had to find someone who would take the job. USC is going to be on probation at USC but then again, the way it was going, he was going to be on probation here at Tennessee soon!

gvegasvol writes:

Now how do all of you idiot kiffin lovers feel now? I said when he was hired he would not be here in 3 years. Now we are going to find out what a program with no loyality feels like. Bottom of the sec east for a couple of years!

Drpippin writes:

Bring back Phil!

rusty_shackleford writes:


BustaRhymes writes:

Hire Mike Leach!!!!

HallowedHill writes:

Whoa - didn't see that one coming!

TK writes:

I wonder if Lane and Layla will change Knox's name to Cal now?

golfballs03 writes:

It's all around us: entertainers and politicians are the most self-centered, self-serving people on the face of the Earth. Never to be trusted; never to be believed, by very definition. And sports has become nothing but entertainment, so I guess we shouldn't be surprised.

UT can and will recover. Have to rethink the kind of people we want involved in our athletics, tho' ...

CB4VOLZ writes:

What a friggin joke. Give the guy a shot at being HC on HIS terms, and this is how he repays the school. Fing LOSER.. I hope he rots under probation on the left coast.

wbpyle writes:

even though i'm a HUGE TRUE BLUE CAT FAN this SUCKS!

VolPatrick writes:

This is going to crash the site for sure. And no one is going to read this comment, so here it goes.

I think that I shall never see,
A poem as lovely as a tree.

hueypilot writes:

Okay. we start over.....again.

Chris4Vols22 writes:

Kiffin is dead to me.

tnsportsman writes:




joeaubie writes:

If it's true, sorry for you guys, but unbelievable and believable all at the same time.

TopTenn writes:

Let's move on.

Ghost_of_Bear_Bryant writes:

Does this mean kiffinsarmy is now a Trojan fan?

khelton657 writes:


kman29 writes:

Im sorry guys. Set aside all our differences of being rivals, this is pretty messed up and really sets the Tennessee program back even more. I think this just shows the type of person Lane really is. Hopefully you all will find a better replacement.

VolFanFtl writes:

Wow. Our program deserved better than this.

xvolx writes:

ain't no fool like an old fool.

OldNumber7 writes:

Al Davis was right

volnnwbama writes:

can we say jon gruden

volfan1971 writes:

Hope we keep our recruits!!!! Talk about a kick in the teeth!!

kyvolunteer writes:


garrthom writes:

Kiffin was a square peg in a round hole at UT, but it does leave UT in a bind.

CRFVols writes:

Wow. All talk. Guess we should have listened to Al Davis. The SEC is loving this.....joke's on us.

I'd love to personally escort him to the border.

chad_t31 writes:

after all the talking, getting everyone pizzed at us, winning 7 games, and listening to all of their BS about building a championship program, he leaves? his press conference better be in LA with a TN drape in the background; pretending to be in knoxville because his azz needs to be on a plane now!

Although I realize it was time for fulmer to go, you KNOW he's somewhere laughing his azz off.

utfpmd writes:

This will eviscerate our football program for years to come. Wow!

4114 writes:

Welcome to the world college sports. This is what happens when you have a coach that is not tied to the university. Vol fans did not have this to worry about while CPF was on the hill.So long CLK and I DON'T wish you the best of luck.

VOLsince68 writes:


There goes the team for a few years.


pilotinspektor writes:

He was going to leave sooner than later anyway and probably get UT on probation. If we hire Fulmer back, do we still have to pay his buyout?

BOHICA writes:

What a p.o.s.. I hope he gets hit by the proverbial bus he threw the TN football program under. He should be made to pay his way out of the contract.

tractoronthepole writes:

I think we look once again for Loyalty. We only had one TN recruit on this years class. I imagine we will feel the fallout for some time.

Glad I'm not young and foolish and in Knoxville, Kiff better contact the national guard and get out while he can.

Want to participate in the conversation? Become a subscriber today. Subscribers can read and comment on any story, anytime. Non-subscribers will only be able to view comments on select stories.