The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

September 30, 2013

USC fires Lane Kiffin; Orgeron is interim coach

(Continued)

Most players found out about Kiffin's dismissal by text messages in the middle of the night. The players have the next two days off before returning to practice Wednesday.

"We'll try to move forward now and focus on these next eight games, really bonding as a Trojan family and getting these wins," offensive lineman Marcus Martin said.

Like the precocious Kiffin's other two head coaching jobs, his USC tenure had an abrupt, messy exit.

The Trojans' former co-offensive coordinator was an NFL head coach at age 31, a head coach in the Southeastern Conference at 33 and USC's head coach at 34. If there was a consistent trend to those stops with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee and the Trojans, it was turmoil.

With Oakland, he lasted only 20 games as an overmatched head coach before his departure became a public feud with Al Davis, the late Raiders owner. He then infuriated Volunteers fans when he left after just 14 months to head back to the Trojans.

Former USC athletic director Mike Garrett hired Kiffin away from Tennessee to replace Seattle Seahawks coach Carroll, the architect of USC's dynasty over the previous decade. Kiffin was an assistant under Carroll, eventually running the Trojans' offense alongside Steve Sarkisian, now Washington's coach.

Kiffin had nothing to do with the misdeeds committed under Carroll and Garrett, who was swiftly dismissed and replaced by Haden.

The coach still faced enormous expectations at USC — especially last season, when the Trojans started out ranked No. 1 in the country with quarterback Matt Barkley and star receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. USC lost five of its last six games, including the Sun Bowl, and Kiffin parted ways with his father, defensive guru Monte Kiffin.

The scholarship restrictions gradually eroded the Trojans' depth, and last season's struggles clearly hurt the vaunted recruiting power of Kiffin and Orgeron. Between the sanctions and injuries, the Trojans played at Arizona State on Saturday night with 56 recruited scholarship players, well below its limit of 75 and the standard 85.

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