Several college football coaches were fired this weekend, including Auburn's Gene Chizik and North Carolina State's Tom O'Brien.
Others remain on the hot seat, such as USC's Lane Kiffin, who was given a vote of approval by Athletic Director Pat Haden but may have noticed his job posted recently, presumably in jest by someone other than Haden, on Craigslist.
Writers from around the Tribune Co. will discuss what coaches will keep their jobs even though they probably could have easily been fired. Check back throughout the day for their responses and join the conversation by leaving a comment of your own.
Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune
Normally I wouldn’t advocate bouncing a guy after one awful season, but USC’s Lane Kiffin is the exception to the rule.
He turned a team stocked with NFL studs into a five-loss comedy club. He fired a “rogue” student manager for deflating game balls, as if the kid learned that trade in a philosophy class. He ended a press conference after 29 seconds, bringing attention to his lack of poise. He threatened a reporter’s access for correctly reporting that a kicker had undergone surgery.
But mostly he needs to go because he kept calling the same flawed plays on the goal line against Notre Dame. And even after it was clear those plays didn’t work, he didn’t realize that you kick a field goal when your team is down nine points late in the fourth quarter, rather than risk a turnover on downs.
It’s time for Kiffin to hit the restart button on his career. Or for someone to do it for him.
Matt Murschel, Orlando Sentinel
I’ve never been one who bought into the whole mystique of Lane Kiffin.
From his time at Tennessee to the past three seasons at USC, Kiffin has done little to validate the amount of hype that surrounds his programs. Take this season, for example. Loaded with NFL-caliber talent, USC was the preseason No. 1 team and many people believed the Trojans would compete for the national championship.
Flash forward three months later and the Trojans are 7-5, including a dismal 0 for 4 against teams ranked in the top 25. You can pin some of that on the lack of depth and injuries, but most of the blame falls squarely on Kiffin. From his run-in with the local media to a student manager deflating footballs, he has made more headlines off the field than on it.
USC Athletic Director Pat Haden has given Kiffin his stamp of approval for another season, but it won’t be long before his act wears thin in Los Angeles.
[Updated at 1:23 p.m.:]
This is a loaded question in Southern California as it would be so easy to suggest USC Coach Lane Kiffin deserves to get fired after the Trojans lost to UCLA and Notre Dame in the same season for the first time since 1995.
But I am standing 150% behind Kiffin, just like A.D. Pat Haden, because Kiffin is an an ATM machine when it comes to dispensing front-page quotes and controversies and I would not want USC to replace him just yet with some by-the-book cliche creator.
So I will free-pass on Kiffin for now and focus on Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz, who led the Hawkeyes to the Orange Bowl against USC a decade ago but went 4-8 this year after losing three of four to close out 2011. Ferentz is a solid guy but just finished his 14th year at Iowa and the program seems on a downward trend.
Of course, I wish all good fired coaches (Jeff Tedford at California and Tom O'Brien at North Carolina State) the healthy buyout packages they deserve for having to work for often delusional athletic directors who think places like North Carolina State should be competing with Alabama for national titles.
Ron Fritz, Baltimore Sun
Without a doubt, the guy whose team has underachieved more than any other is USC’s Lane Kiffin. This team was the preseason No. 1 and added a star running back in Penn State’s Silas Redd right before the season. Yet the Trojans won just seven games and lost four of their final five, including rivalry games to UCLA and Notre Dame.
It’s hard to believe that anyone other than Kiffin would have screwed this up so badly. Look at all of the first-round NFL draft picks on the roster. In his career, he’s proved to be about a .500 coach — 5-15 in a little more than a season with the NFL’s Raiders — and 25-12 at USC and 7-6 at Tennessee. Some will say 25-12 at USC is pretty good. But it’s USC and pretty good doesn’t cut it.
USC Athletic Director Pat Haden pledged his support for Kiffin after the UCLA loss and it appears that he means it. That’s too bad for Trojans fans. They deserve someone who can coach.]