He's the most hated coach in the country. He even looks like a douschebag. He quickly rose from merely an assistant to USC, to the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, to the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers, to the head coach of the USC Trojans....all without really doing anything. There has never been a coach in history who's gotten so many great jobs after doing so little.
His pompous attitude. His smoking hot wife. His unearned coaching rise. The reasons for hating him go on and on.
Which is why it hurts so much to say that maybe, just maybe.....he's actually a good coach. He might even be a great coach.
The tools neccessary to being a great head coach can be narrowed down to 3 simple things:
1) Ability to recruit
2) Ability to improve players in practice
3) Ability to maximize your team's talent during the game
Let's look at these one by one.
Recruiting - Lane was the recruiting coordinator for USC when they were bringing 5 star recruits to play 3rd string. You can question his methods (and I'd be willing to be that he gets someone on probation at some point), but you can't question his results. Even at Tennessee, he put together a top 10 class in 2009 and was putting together what turned out to be a top 10 class in 2010. The guy appeals to high school players. There's no denying that.
Practice - The only way to tell if coaches are successful during practice is to see if they improved throughout the season. Tennesse is a great example of that. After starting the season losing to a very average UCLA team, Lane's team ended the season winning 5 out of its last 7, which includes a two point loss to eventual national champion Alabama. Not to mention, he transferred Jonathan Crompton, one of the worst QBs in the SEC at the beginning of 2009, into an NFL draft pick. He threw for less than 100 yards in two of his first three games of 2009, but ended the season throwing 20 TDs to only 5 picks in his last 9 games.
Gameday - This is a tough one to judge without actually having you watch him coach. With that said, you can't compete with top 10 teams when you have less talent without having a superior gameplan, and Lane has held his own against those teams (especially when he's calling plays).
@ #1 Florida - Lost 23-13
@ #2 Alabama - Lost 12-10
@ #16 (ended season #4) Stanford - Lost 37-35
@ #2 Oregon - Lost 53-32
vs. #6 Stanford - Lost 56-48 (triple overtime)
vs. #4 Oregon - Won 38-35
Sure there's only been one win, but his loses were by an average of 8 points, with a chance to win many of them. With a top 10 team this year, and a potential National Championship team coming up next year, Lane Kiffin is on the rise again. And this time, at least he's earning it.