January 12th 2010 Lane Kiffin stood at a podium in Los Angeles to accept the head coaching position at the University of Southern California, a responsibility he deemed “his dream job.”
However as Kiffin continues to alienate local media and regulate what can and can not be reported, he becomes one step closer to losing the job he longed for. Hell hath no fury like local media scorned, and as Kiffin continues his act, it is a lesson he may learn sooner than later.
Kiffin’s troubles began just over a week ago when he banned Los Angels Times reporter Scott Wolf for reporting on an injury not yet disclosed by the Trojans head coach. The ban drew plenty of public scrutiny and was eventually lifted, but not by Kiffin. Rather, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden was forced to step in to lift the ban after speaking with Wolf and area sports editors–as if Haden didn’t have better things to do.
The troubles continued Wednesday when Kiffin met with the media for an entire 28 seconds after storming off in response to a question about an injured Trojan. I’ve seen his players respond better to questions they didn’t want to answer than he did. However, for those who have followed Kiffin for some time this wasn’t a surprise at all.
If you thought his 28 second press conference was short, it was only on par with the press conference he held announcing his departure from the University of Tennessee which lasted all of one minute, without answering one single question from the local media.
Lane Kiffin handles the media like a five year old. When things are going well, he’s a blast to be around as he charms reporters. However when things are not going well or he is put in a difficult situation, Kiffin storms off. His act is getting old and could begin to backfire on him.
When Kiffin doesn’t allow access and regulates reporters, reporters do not have anything to report. When reporters do not have anything to report, there is nothing to fill the air time or space in newspapers. But just like the offseason, these reporters will still find something to report to fill their columns and sportscasts, perhaps not to the liking of coach Kiffin.
With limited access we are more likely to hear and read stories among the lines of: Is Kiffin the right fit for this job? If Kiffin loses another game before the Oregon game will he be on the hot seat? How long will Pat Haden and Southern Cal tolerate Kiffin’s immaturity?
Or perhaps they remind SC fans that Kiffin’s only signature win in his entire coaching career came last year against Oregon. If those stories are written, guess who they will reach? In no particular order that message will reach Southern California fans, national media figures, and of course the big money boosters whose checkbooks make plenty of decisions.
Make no mistake about it; Lane Kiffin is skating on thin ice with the local media. If you pay close enough attention the cracking sound you hear it means the ice is starting to give way.