USC head football coach Lane Kiffin (above) is only a couple of years removed from being burned in effigy on the University Of Tennessee campus. Southern Cal is coming off a postseason ban and a reduction in scholarships due to transgressions during the Pete Carroll/Reggie Bush era, but if you were expecting Kiffin to show much humility in a chat with the LA Times’ T.J. Simers, you’ve not followed his career. “I was reading a story that said we had the most returning starters and getting Silas Redd from Penn State then we shouldn’t even play the games,” Kiffin laughs. “Just hand us the trophy.”
“I know there’s that expectation out there; it started as soon as Matt Barkley came back. But hey, if you don’t want pressure, don’t want expectations, don’t sign Silas Redd.”
“Hey Kif,” a group of players shout out as they walk by, as if he’s one of their fraternity brothers.
“Can you imagine some of Nick Saban’s players yelling, ‘Sabe,'” he says with a wave, and keep in mind the tough-edged Saban is Kiffin’s coaching idol.
“I couldn’t sit while waiting to sign him (Redd) and I still can’t,” he says, while knocking down rumors USC took a scholarship away from a walk-on to give to Redd. “This is so cool. It’s so different; usually you sign a kid and wait seven months to get him. This is like signing a veteran free agent in [pro] football.”
Before Kiffin recruited Redd, he went to Athletic Director Pat Haden, who talked to school President Max Nikias. The NCAA had already made it clear it only wanted the best for Penn State’s athletes by freeing them to explore all opportunities.
Two years ago if this happens he’s vilified, now only mildly criticized for poaching. But that’s how far he’s come in terms of respectability.