I am sure there will be lot more developing news today and in the coming days about the events transpiring across town and in Knoxville, Tennessee, which we will all keep an eye on collectively here on BN. For now though I wanted to start the day by resetting what has transpired in last 12-16 hours. I was actually thinking what was going to happen if Southern Cal was smart enough to hire a coach with class and integrity in the mold of Mike Riley, Jeff Fisher or Jack Del Rio. Looks like we don't have think about that any more as we get to go up against probably the sleaziest, dishonest, proven loser in college football in Lame Kitten.
Lamey is coming in (for now) with his Daddy, a proven DC, and an assistant who shall we say for now has an interesting track record in terms of his recruiting tactics, and perhaps even Norm Chow (and I am not all worried about him at this point whether he stays or go which I will get into later in the post). It looks like a desperate ploy from Mike Garrett to keep the Petey era going, while giving the collective middle finger on behalf of the entire Trojan nation to the NCAA. The coaching combination doesn't worry me all that much. It might help them maintain their current recruiting class, and score a short term PR win, thanks to media freaks like Shelly Smiths of the world who will wash down whatever TrOJan spin is served up. In the long term (and I am just talking in 2-3 months), it is going to make the NCAA deliberations on their scandals (and the ones that have taken place in Tennessee) even more interesting, and pretty much complete the tagging of the Trojans as the Raiders of college football, not jut in the eyes of BN, but to rest of the country.
So let's start with the initial reactions to the latest Trojan Sleazebag-In-Chief over at $C*. Peter Schrager from FoxSports.com (HT bruinbunz) uncorks this blast at Lame Kitten (emphasis added througout):
If Pete Carroll left USC in a state of uncertainty, Lane Kiffin is leaving Tennessee in a state of rubble and shrapnel. And if Carroll's a "worm" for leaving the Trojans high and dry, Lane Kiffin's a snake of the highest order. As of Tuesday night, that snake was on a plane to La La Land.
Whether he's a snake, weasel, or just your garden variety spoiled brat, it's really of no great circumstance. What matters is that Lane Kiffin is done with Tennessee after just one year and on to bigger and better things. In his wake, he leaves a program that was likely better off having never known him at all.
Lame as referenced above is a proven loser, per Pat Forde of ESPN who noted "Paris Hilton has paid more dues" than Lame Kitten. The highlights of a .363 career winning percentage include (HT Patroclus):
His career head-coaching record is 12-21.
He's already 0-1 against USC's biggest rival, UCLA.
His signature win was a loss -- a two-point defeat at eventual national champion Alabama. Other than that, the best thing the Volunteers did in 2009 was thumping the worst Georgia team in a decade.
His team was de-pantsed in the Chick-fil-A Bowl by Virginia Tech, and de-pantsed in Oxford by an underachieving Mississippi.
I would throw in how it was Lamey's offense that was responsible for that brilliant 9-13 choke job against a Dorrell coached UCLA football team, which led to Trojan fans all over the internets lampooning him for weeks (paving the way for his escape to Oakland).
The real cloud around Lamey is of course all the off-field, sleazy scandals in Knoxville, where he was on pace to put together the same rap sheet his mentor - Cheatey Petey - put together at South Central (some of our prescient bloggers had been posting away about them in recent months in fanposts which have been bumped up). He took the Tennessee program into the gutter in less than a year and it looks like that's where the Trojans are embracing him again.The most important question reverberating through college football today should be is how will the NCAA react to this stunt from South Central which is giving a middle finger salute to the NCAA without showing a shred of remorse of what went down during the tainted era of Cheatey Petey. Observers around the country wasted no time in making that point.
From Jay Mariotti on AOL:
A certain layer of smog always hangs over Los Angeles. But after the events of Tuesday night, a toxic cloud might hover permanently over a school that seems to have no scruples. Isn't USC dealing with double-trouble scandals that are tarnishing its football and basketball teams? Crazy how the place didn't show even a twinge of conscience in naming Lane Kiffin as its new football coach, brazenly thumbing its nose at the ethical world by appointing a probation-flirting troublemaker to run a probation-flirting program.
This is a dark day in college sports, the first case in recent memory of a school ignoring its improprieties to hire a coach who appears to have many of his own. Kiffin returns to USC, where he worked under Pete Carroll for six seasons, after a bizarre year of terror at Tennessee in which he was being investigated by the NCAA and the Southeastern Conference for his recruiting practices while committing at least six secondary NCAA violations. Last we left Kiffin, he was trying to explain why it's OK to have "hostesses'' travel almost 200 miles to use their female charms to help woo high-school athletes, this at approximately the same time that three of his freshman players were arrested and charged with armed robbery.
Seems like a perfect match for Garrett's U$C* which seems intent to keep sleazing on as the most corrupt athletic program in the country. Dennis Dodd from CBS Sportsline.com didn't waste any time to clown Garrett (HT JoeBruin9900):
[W]ith the NCAA on the doorstep and Troy burning from inside out, it looks like Garrett put out the fire with gasoline. Coach after coach seemingly shunned interest because at least the word is out that the NCAA is about to bring the heavy artillery. So Garrett does the logical thing by bringing in the man-child coach who was a hostess away from putting Tennessee on proby.
In the short term, Kiffin will hold together the recruiting class and bring a stellar staff. In the long term, Garrett let the program get to this point. It is officially and until further notice, radioactive. To the NCAA, to normally eager coaches who would take the job in a heartbeat. Reggie Bush, O.J. Mayo, Joe McKnight, all happened on his watch. All were dealt with in secrecy that would make the Politburo blush.
As I said attention should be shifting on to the NCAA in terms of how they are going to deliberate on U$C*. The message from the Trojies should be crystal clear to rest of college football world. They think they own the institution as they clear don't have one drip of remorse about the way Cheatey Petey and his cronies made mockery out of the concept of "student athletes." In response to the cloud of unprecedented NCAA scandals, instead of hiring a head coach with a track record and integrity, they brought in someone who was not only present when number of scandals were breaking out at Southern Cal, but has left a stained trail of NCAA dirty laundry from the institution he bolted. Already from reports in last few hours, it appears that Orgeron might have committed recruiting violations in his (alleged) contact with Tennessee recruits during (reported) attempts to lure them out to Southern Cal. They just don't care and are telling NCAA to Cheney themselves.
As for Norm Chow, I think from what I have read and heard so far, it seems clear Norm Chow either directly or via his representatives has had contact with Southern Cal. Chow has one year left in his contract at UCLA under which he could collect as much as $690,000 if he stays in Westwood next season. Chow in his late 60s is heading towards a retirement and is no doubt looking to extend his professional career for 2-4 more years (at least) with more lucrative terms. So the word leaking out now seems like a clear attempt for renew the contract negotiations, and launch a bidding war between Southern Cal and UCLA. That at least IMHO doesn't reflect well on Norm Chow. Here is what Chow had said just days ago:
Chow said he preferred to remain in Los Angeles rather than chase a higher-paying job at another college, but hinted that he'd only really consider leaving if the right NFL job came up.
"You're not in this business for the money," Chow said in December. "If you are, you're wasting your time. If I spent as much time selling life insurance as I do coaching, I'd be a multimillionaire.
"If something presents itself professionally, we'll figure it out. ... But it's really not about money.''
Well it certainly appears to be about the money right now. I have no problem with the idea of him and his representatives renegotiating his contract and looking to up his salary, but to use the Trojans to make this happen, I kind of find it distasteful. Perhaps it was something that was being pushed by his son and agent - Carter Chow - who also happens to be a Trojan alum.
In a bidding war between the Southern Cal and UCLA, the Trojans will have the upper hand given the fact they have deeper pockets. Don't think I have to provide links to establish that fact. I don't know whether UCLA will get into a bidding war to secure Chow for another few years. That remains to be seen. What I do know is I feel confident with Rick Neuheisel in charge, who has shown the ability to put together exciting offenses with right talent mix in Colorado and Washington. I also feel confident in Neuheisel that he is going to weigh all the options in front of him and make the best possible decision for UCLA, which could include forcing the Trojans to pay a substantial buyout and use those funds to bring in another great OC with high ambitions. Add to that I really like how Kevin Prince reacted to the story from last night:
"We're just kinda holding down here and making sure everyone is good. It's a little different for those guys at SC because it's the head coach and it's so unexpeceted and that was their guy. With us, Coach Chow is our guy and even if he did go, I feel that we do have a sense of stability with Coach Neuheisel here. On the offensive side of the ball, the best guys would have to step forward and say just because he's not here, we're not going anywhere. It does empower you a little bit."
Those comments reflect the signs of someone who is already emerging as a very calm and mature leader for next season (piggy backing on his gutty second half performance during the bowl game).
So for now, I am feeling pretty good about how things are shaping up. The Trojans seems to have towed in a weasel into their castle, which is under siege from rest of the nation. They are feeling jacked up for the short term without worrying much about the long term in terms of NCAA sanctions or their Slezebag-In-Chief's ability to lead and to teach a football team.
Meanwhile, Rick Neuheisel and UCLA will keep doing their thing, putting together another solid recruiting class, and work towards a good third season. We are going to be starting at that countdown clock even more frequent from here on out which is around 325 days.
Remember Rick Neuheisel is already 1-0 against Sarah Palin of college football.