Lane Kiffin says he's matured, had a "change of lenses" and learned from past jobs. That doesn't mean he's moved on from those past jobs.
As the 42-year-old Kiffin prepares for his first season as head coach of Florida Atlantic, he talked to Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports about his mile-long, turmoil-filled coaching résumé that's better fit for a 60-year-old.
Kiffin discussed the difference in recruiting and coaching players at Florida Atlantic, a Conference USA program toiling in obscurity, vs. Alabama, a program that has dominated college football for much of the last decade. He also touched on being the face of the Owls' program after failing to do so at Tennessee and the grass not always being greener at a premier program.
One interesting note came when Kiffin mentioned USC, where he went 18-7 in his first two seasons before a seven-win 2012 campaign and 3-2 start to the 2013 ended with the infamous tarmac firing.
"Even though the USC thing will drive me nuts forever," Kiffin said.
"Why?" asked Dodd.
"Because we did a really, really good job there. It really pisses me off that the assumption is we didn't."
He's right; the assumption and perception is that he flamed out in attempting to replace Pete Carroll, his former boss — Kiffin was a Trojans' assistant from 2001-06. Five losses in their final six games of 2013 followed by an early home loss to Washington State in 2012 and the 61-42 tarmac loss at Arizona State are recalled far more often than his 10-win 2011 season, navigation through crippling NCAA sanctions or recruiting victories.
"People look at that like we didn't win there," Kiffin added while pointing he inherited a program carrying a two-year bowl ban and 30-scholarship reduction.
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Clearly he feels there was a missed opportunity in Los Angeles to keep the Trojans rolling after Carroll won 97 games, seven conference championships and two national titles in nine years. And clearly it still irks him that he wasn't both given enough time to do so or a fair trial in the public court of perception.