LOS ANGELES —
“It’s an unfortunate day today that a coach got let go, but we understand the circumstances,” Orgeron said. “I want to tell you we’re here as a staff to answer the bell. We’re all accountable for what happened as a staff and as players. Us Trojans know how to do it.”
Orgeron said Clay Helton will be his offensive coordinator and the Trojans’ play-caller. Helton, USC’s quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator, has been with the Trojans since Kiffin returned in 2010.
Most players found out about Kiffin’s dismissal by text messages in the middle of the night. The players have the next two days off before returning to practice Wednesday.
“We’ll try to move forward now and focus on these next eight games, really bonding as a Trojan family and getting these wins,” offensive lineman Marcus Martin said.
Like the precocious Kiffin’s other two head coaching jobs, his USC tenure had an abrupt, messy exit.
The Trojans’ former co-offensive coordinator was an NFL head coach at age 31, a head coach in the Southeastern Conference at 33 and USC’s head coach at 34. If there was a consistent trend to those stops with the Oakland Raiders, Tennessee and the Trojans, it was turmoil.
With Oakland, he lasted only 20 games as an overmatched head coach before his departure became a public feud with Al Davis, the late Raiders owner. He then infuriated Volunteers fans when he left after just 14 months to head back to the Trojans.
Former USC athletic director Mike Garrett hired Kiffin away from Tennessee to replace Seattle Seahawks coach Carroll, the architect of USC’s dynasty over the previous decade. Kiffin was an assistant under Carroll, eventually running the Trojans’ offense alongside Steve Sarkisian, now Washington’s coach.
Just a few months after Kiffin took over, USC was hit with the heaviest sanctions leveled against a program in a quarter-century, including a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years. Kiffin had nothing to do with the misdeeds committed under Carroll and Garrett, who was swiftly dismissed and replaced by Haden.