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If Tom O'Brien deserved to be fired, then what about Lane Kiffin?

November 26, 2012|By Chuck Schilken
  • Former N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien, left, and current USC Coach Lane Kiffin both led their programs to 7-5 records in the regular season.
Former N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien, left, and current USC Coach Lane… (Streeter Lecka, Harry How…)

It's just that somebody out there -- N.C. State Athletic Director Debbie Yow and likely many others -- did think that O'Brien deserved to be fired. And there are some similarities between his situation and that of Kiffin's.

The Wolfpack started with hopes of competing for the ACC title but instead finished the regular season with a 7-5 record. O'Brien, who finishes his six-year tenure with a 40-35 record, led the team to four bowl berths but never into the conference championship game.

“Coach O'Brien and I agree on the goal of becoming a Top 25 program," Yow said. "We just don't agree on what it takes to do that, how to get there."

But if the Wolfpack's season is considered a disappointment, then how can we describe that of the Trojans? 

USC was ranked No. 1 in a preseason poll by the Associated Press after going 10-2 in 2011, the final season of its two-year bowl ban. Plus, quarterback Matt Barkley was the Heisman Trophy favorite after deciding to return for his senior season.

But the Trojans stumbled to a 7-5 record that included losses to hated rivals UCLA and Notre Dame, and Barkley isn't even in the Heisman discussion.

Still, Kiffin is 25-12 in his three seasons as head coach and had to navigate the team through some pretty rough waters during the first two. And, unlike O'Brien, he does have the support of his athletic director.

“Lane is my head coach, 150 percent, now and hopefully for a long time,” Athletic Director Pat Haden told The Times' Bill Plaschke soon after the loss to UCLA. “I see the future. I see the potential. I know what he's been fighting through and I like what he's done.”

So as Wolfpack fans have a coaching search to look forward to, Trojans fans apparently have many more years with Kiffin to come. Which group do you think is better off?


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