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Paul Finebaum weighs in on Lane Kiffin, potential return to USC

On3.com
On3.com
 2021-09-14
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Harry How via Getty Images.

Now that USC has moved on from former head coach Clay Helton, the focus turns to making the right hire to replace him. USC athletic director Mike Bohn must make the right hire to lead USC’s football program. ESPN’s Paul Finebaum said that Bohn has three months to make this hire, so he needs to really make sure that he makes the right one. Finebaum also mentioned that he thinks Lane Kiffin would be a great hire for USC right now.

Kiffin previously coached four seasons at USC

When Pete Carroll left USC to become head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, the Trojans hired Kiffin away from Tennessee as their next head coach in 2010. USC won 18 games over the first two years of Kiffin’s tenure, but the Trojans were ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions violations involving Reggie Bush. In 2012, USC came into the season ranked as the No. 1 team in preseason rankings. Kiffin led the Trojans to a disappointing season, finishing 7-6 and out of the polls.

When USC lost its first two conference games in 2013, dropping Kiffin’s record to 4-7 in his previous 11 games, he was fired. Kiffin then took the Alabama offensive coordinator job in 2014. In 2017, Kiffin was hired as the head coach of Florida Atlantic, where he coached to a 26-13 record over three seasons. Following the 2019 season, Kiffin took the Ole Miss job. Kiffin and Ole Miss were 5-5 last season but have won both of their games to begin this season. Now, Paul Finebaum thinks that Kiffin would be a good target for USC for its head coaching job.

“Lane Kiffin just wasn’t mature enough (in his first stint at USC),” Finebaum said on Tuesday. “I think he would be a great hire. Lane Kiffin would be a fantastic hire at USC. He’s mature, he’s more mature, he’s ready. He could do that job like that. He just wasn’t ready in 2010.”

Finebaum: Mike Bohn has to make the correct hire

Penn State head coach James Franklin and Oregon coach Mario Cristobal are the two top candidates for the USC job in Finebaum’s eyes. Vegas released betting odds on the four favorites to become USC’s next head coach on Tuesday. Coaches such as Luke Fickell, Franklin, Cristobal, Kiffin, and even Urban Meyer headline the favorites.

For now, Donte Williams is in place as the interim head coach of the Trojans. Bohn has three months to figure out who will take the job full time. Whether that is Kiffin, Franklin, Cristobal, or anybody else, USC can’t afford to mess up this hire.

“I don’t want to put any pressure on Mike Bohn, but if he screws up this hire, and he’s got three months to make it, you might as well bury this program,” Finebaum said. “Because you can’t keep doing this every couple of years. You can’t keep making a mistake.”

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