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USC Stays in the Gutter by Hiring Kiffin

Jan 13, 2010 – 12:00 AM
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Jay Mariotti

Jay Mariotti %BloggerTitle%

Mike Garrett USCA 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.

Yet none of those assorted red flags stopped a prestigious academic institution from stooping into the gutter for Kiffin, who was hustled in quickly -- after rejections by Jacksonville Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio and Oregon State's Mike Riley -- in an attempt to save recruits from fleeing the program after Carroll's weekend departure to the NFL's Seattle Seahawks. The rush job reeks of misplaced priorities, and I'm hardly alone in suggesting that USC will regret this hire in a matter of months if not weeks or days. Might Kiffin become the first coach to put two programs on probation in the period of a year or two? Mike Garrett (above), USC's embattled athletic director, didn't care what anyone thought as he broke bread with a rabble-rouser.
Filed under: NCAA Football, Sports