Chris Huston is a former USC football sports information dept. staffer who now publishes the bible of Heisman Trophy-tracking websites: HeismanPundit.com.
(Buss gave $7.5M to USC in 2008, reportedly paid Kiffin UT buyout)
His weekly Heisman Pundit Poll is nationally-syndicated and features these main media panel members: Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, Teddy Greenstein and Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune, Olin Buchanan and Tom Dienhart of Rivals.com, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman, Bruce Feldman of ESPN.com, J.B. Morris of ESPN the Magazine, Austin Murphy, B.J. Schecter and Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, plus Dick Weiss of the New York Daily News.
I’ve spoken to Chris many times and dude knows his stuff. Today he posted some previously unreported info on the Lane Kiffin hire, along with observations from the perspective of a true USC insider.
Huston, who knows Kiffin and Ed Orgeron probably as well as any media member covering the team, was appalled by the hire considering Kiffin’s past run-ins with the NCAA at UT and his previous USC coaching stint:
Had the announcement been concurrent with a move to hire more NCAA compliance people–USC has just four on staff to oversee 19 sports (compared with its eight equipment guys and five video staffers, for example)–then maybe we could acknowledge a serious move on its part to instill some discipline in a department that has been under the pall of investigation for the latter half of this decade.
Love that, twice as many “equipment guys” in the USC Athletic Dept. than NCAA compliance staffers.
As I also reported earlier today, Huston notes that Lakers Owner Jerry Buss was a prominent part of the machinery that facilitated Kiffin’s arrival as head coach.
Los Angeles Lakers owner and Trojan alum Jerry Buss stepped to the plate and paid for the Kiffin buy out from Tennessee. Public Storage owner Wayne Hughes provided much of the cash for the incredible staff that is coming with Kiffin to Los Angeles.
The NASHVILLE TENNESSEAN reported last night that Kiffin’s UT contract buyout was $800,000.
Huston also breaks this off:
Oh, by the way, the L.A. Daily News reported that a source said “He (Kiffin) will do everything that Pete (Carroll) did and continue all the traditions and practice the same way.”
And therein lies the problem.
What Huston is saying isn’t lost on the men who brought Kiffin back to USC. But as I posted earlier today, the school’s search committee hired Kiffin and the accompanying staff in an attempt to achieve some measure of continuity and prevent the program from falling off a cliff.
But that unwillingness to take the p.r. and recruiting pain short-term by hiring a lower-profile candidate may result in injury to the program that might render the quality of coach and his staff meaningless for years to come.