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Firing of Lane Kiffin should put rumor mill into overdrive

Lane KiffTodd Graham

Lane Kiffin, Todd Graham

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Updated: October 2, 2013 6:31PM



Hope you have a high tolerance for coaching-job ­rumors. If not, it’s going to be extremely annoying for a while.

Lane Kiffin was fired by USC in the wee hours of Sunday morning, and the speculation about who will replace him already is at a fever pitch. All the coaches being named have jobs, so it could be December before someone is hired. That won’t stop writers and fans from obsessing over this story until then.

Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald is one of several young, successful college coaches who will be asked by reporters this week to clarify their commitments to their schools. Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, Washington’s Steve Sarkisian, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin and Boise State’s Chris Petersen are among the others.

Nearly as many NFL names have been bandied about as possible successors to Kiffin. Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who has nearly a decade of experience as an NFL coach, is a USC alum and is seen by many as an early leading candidate. Greg Roman, Jim Harbaugh’s offensive coordinator in San Francisco, is well-respected in the Pac-12 for the work he did on Harbaugh’s staff at Stanford.

Whoever leads USC out of the tunnel in 2014, it won’t be Ed ­Orgeron. The Trojans’ interim coach is known for four things: recruiting, shouting, cursing and doing it all with one of the more distinctive-sounding voices you could imagine. Kiffin kept everyone at a distance. Orgeron will be a blast to follow even from afar.

If the shoe Fitz

This is the worst possible week for Fitzgerald to be asked about anything other than the Wildcats’ next game. There isn’t a better matchup on the national schedule than No. 4 Ohio State at No. 16 Northwestern (7 p.m., ABC), which is merely the biggest game of Fitzgerald’s career. Distractions will be unwelcome, but he might as well get used to his name being linked to every high-profile job opening. USC athletic director Pat Haden has to have Fitzgerald on his radar.

Nothing to SE-See

The SEC isn’t just better than the Big Ten, it’s also smarter. There were a total of three Big Ten games in September: Wisconsin-Purdue, Wisconsin-Ohio State and Iowa-Minnesota. Nothing like not playing any of your rivals to rev up the fans, right?

Excitement came much earlier in the SEC, which had 11 league games in the opening month. Not surprisingly, several of them came with must-see hype. In Week 6, though, the King of Conferences probably doesn’t have a single game that would rank among the 10 most intriguing matchups across the country. Odd — and not going to happen again in 2013.

Prove it or lose it

Few coaches took as much grief the past two years as Maryland’s Randy Edsall, whose teams were a combined 6-18. But the Terps, nutty helmets and all, are 4-0 and have snuck into the rankings at No. 25. It probably won’t last. They have their toughest game of the season Saturday, at No. 8 Florida State (11 a.m., ESPN).

Notre shame

No respect for the Irish these days. At 3-2, they have fallen out of the Top 25. And now they’re six-point underdogs on a neutral field in Arlington, Texas, against 22nd-ranked Arizona State (6:30 p.m., NBC). Probably no one has looked at them quite the same since that massive beatdown by Alabama in the 2012 title game.

Email: sgreenberg@suntimes.com

Twitter: @slgreenberg



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