It's been quite the wild ride since Lane Kiffin returned to the University of Southern California as their head football coach, and even wilder before then. ESPN's Thomas Neumann got the chance to sit down with him and talk about some things like his time with the Raiders, how he's perceived in the media, even which school has the hottest cheerleaders. Make the jump to learn more about Lane.
The interview itself is very light and jovial, with Neumann asking all kinds of silly questions:
Sebastian Janikowski has a cannon for a leg, but you sent him in to attempt a pretty long field goal (76 yards) in your last game as coach of the Raiders. What was your strategy when you sent in that play?
That's Shane Lechler's fault. [Cracks a smile.] He was the holder -- the punter. ... Shane told me [Janikowski] could make it. [Janikowski] actually, when you put him that direction in [the Oakland Coliseum] during warm-ups, he'll make some from there. So, I blame Shane for that one. ... If you get the wind right in that direction, he can make that.
Here's another shot at the Raiders:
The overhead projector Al Davis used during the news conference he held after your firing seems like kind of a metaphor for how he runs the Raiders. Would you agree?
Yeah, it was. It was sad, really, to see somebody who's accomplished so much in his career and been such a powerful figure in the NFL ... to see that was actually pretty sad to watch. But you're exactly right, an overhead projector -- that describes the pace that you're dealing with of the way an organization is being run.
But there were some serious questions in there too:
What coach has influenced you the most?
Probably Pete [Carroll]. Being with him for six years at such a young age -- at 24 years old, I think -- when you're just starting up your career and as much success as we had those six years. Anytime you're having success, you take from it. So I'd definitely say Pete.
What are some of the personality traits or fingerprints of his style that you've adopted?
His ability to relate to the players and motivate the players and to run a positive environment. Being around a lot of different environments, one of the things [that made him] so unique was that he was so positive. People wanted to come to work and players wanted to come to practice and meetings. He made it fun. You're never going to be just like somebody, but I try to keep that balance in there with discipline and players enjoying it and the staff enjoying it, too.
There were also a number of stock questions like who was your favorite athlete growing up (Michael Jordan), what's on your ipod (Bon Jovi), what's your favorite restaurant (Lttion's in Knoxville). But there were some very intriguing questions that Kiffin couldn't even asnwer as well:
Not counting your school, which Pac-12 university has the most attractive cheerleaders?
Oooh, I just had a player get in trouble for a question like this. ... I don't know. I've never looked. ... I could've gotten in a lot of trouble with that answer right there.
For more on the Trojans, check out Conquest Chronicles.