LOS ANGELES -- After a couple of long years of negative news, Saturday's win in South Bend was a big day for Trojans fans, and it felt long overdue. It also marks the biggest day in Lane Kiffin's coaching career, and in the wake of the victory over Notre Dame, it's time to give him his due credit.
Make no mistake about it, Saturday's win was big for several players, coaches and the team in general; but more than anything, this was Kiffin's win. In his brief stint with the Raiders, then at Tennessee, and now at USC, he hadn't had a win like this. When he did win before, it was because he had recruited well or inherited some good talent. When he lost, it was his fault. Clearly, many people have felt that he has been outcoached. On Saturday, he wasn't.
On Saturday, two teams took the field with similar seasons, records, statistics and talent. What wasn't similar was the preparation, game plan, play calling, defensive scheme and how the coaches managed their teams for the big game. While Brian Kelly had spent a year perfecting the gold-fleck paint for the new Fighting Irish helmets, Kiffin spent a year with a chip on his shoulder, preparing to beat the Irish and start a new streak. Kiffin outcoached Kelly in every aspect of the game, and it was obvious. And while he has endured criticism for games that didn't go like Saturday's, you have to give him credit when it's deserved, and he earned a lot of credit for this one. If this is what Kiffin can do as he matures, grows, perfects his craft, etc., the future could be very fun.