With Kiffin at USC, Arizona looking all the more stableby Anthony Gimino on Jan. 13, 2010, under Sports
Isn’t it nice, Arizona fans? The relative calm. The lack of drama.
Wildcats football coach Mike Stoops just keeps on keeping on, inching forward and heading into his seventh season at Arizona, making him the third-longest tenured coach at his school in the Pac-10 behind Oregon State’s Mike Riley and Cal’s Jeff Tedford.
What would the odds of that have been, say, late in the 2007 season?
He nearly lost his way and lost his job late in that season, but he has won 19 of his past 30 games, won the Las Vegas Bowl and went to the Holiday Bowl (although it’s not accurate to say his team showed up).
Continuity? He’s changed offensive coordinators only once, smartly changing course by hiring Sonny Dykes in the wake of Mike Canales‘ tenure. And when his brother, defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, left last month to step up to Florida State, Mike had unofficially hired his replacement within 24 hours.
Seamless. Painless. No drama.
Meanwhile, the circus has been in town in Los Angeles.
USC coach Pete Carroll bolted for the Seattle Seahawks (denying he’s staying one step ahead of the NCAA police … whatever you say, Pete), and the Trojans elected to replace their master of ceremonies with the clown.
Lane Kiffin smirked and snarked his way through his one season as head coach at Tennessee. The Vols, at times, played some damn fine football but ended 7-6 … and the Trojans just hired a guy who lost at home to UCLA.
Mostly, Kiffin, all of 34, is famous for being famous, for saying famously outrageous things, for stirring things up just because there is no such thing as bad publicity. He wasted no time when hired last year in taking shots at UT rival Florida and erroneously accused Gators coach Urban Meyer of cheating in recruiting.
Whatever. Tennessee was in the headlines. Just what Kiffin wanted.
Can’t wait to hear what he says now about UCLA … or Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, who was Kiffin before Kiffin. Harbaugh made headlines before coaching a game because he came out with verbal jabs against USC and Carroll from the start.
Harbaugh backed it up. Will Kiffin?
And won’t this be a fun Pac-10 coaches’ meeting in the offseason?
Between Harbaugh and Kiffin, blustery Rick Neuheisel of UCLA and prickly Oregon coach Chip Kelly, Stoops — who has toned done the sideline act — soundly seems like the sane one.
Anyway, speaking of recruiting violations, Kiffin racked up several of those in his short time in Knoxville. USC, which already has self-imposed sanctions in men’s basketball and is staring at an NCAA investigation concerning possible illegal benefits to Heisman winner Reggie Bush, apparently doesn’t mind bringing in someone who already has a thick file with the compliance committee.
Kiffin, by the way, was a USC assistant when Bush was a Trojan.
Say this: Kiffin will put together a great coaching staff, work like crazy and, like Carroll and his crew, out-recruit just about everyone in the nation.
Maybe this will work. Maybe not. USC got its “buzz.” Kiffin gets to try on the crown as King of LA.
But while Carroll was almost always likable and his teams usually great fun to watch, it’s going to be easy to root against Kiffin. He leaves behind a scorched earth in the one season he deemed it necessary to stay at Tennessee. Heaven knows what nonsense awaits at USC.
Meanwhile, things are at relative peace on the Tucson home front.
What a nice change.
Now, if only tight end Rob Gronkowski elects to come back to school …