Pete Carroll has been oft-criticized for departing USC in January 2010 with NCAA sanctions on the horizon and leaving Lane Kiffin to pick up the pieces.
But Tuesday, Carroll came to Kiffin's defense and said those sanctions likely led to Kiffin's downfall.
“This whole NCAA thing I just think was so terribly out of balance,” Carroll told NFL Network’s Rich Eisen of USC's two-year bowl ban and scholarship reductions. “They had to try to survive all of that, it’s awful that it was like that. But it didn’t end well and it’s unfortunate for Kiff. He’s tremendous worker and all, it just didn’t work out.”
Kiffin worked as an assistant under Carroll at USC from 2001-2006, ascending from tight ends coach to offensive coordinator before being hired as head coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2007. Carroll noted that he'd known Kiffin since he was a child, but realized that USC had to make a move.
“It’s been a hard time for the Trojan family, a hard couple of years. This is difficult too,” Carroll said. “I’ve known Lane since he was a little kid, so I feel for him in this situation. But they’ve made a decisive move and they’re going to move forward. They’ll make a good choice and get the thing going the way they want to go, but it’s very difficult.”
Carroll also talked about the difficulty interim coach Ed Orgeron will face as he tries to get the Trojans back on track. Orgeron, who's been an assistant at USC two different times, was 10-25 as the head coach of Ole Miss before being fired.
“Ed has been through enough as a head coach and he’s got a real way about him that resonates and he can take control of a very difficult situation and make something happen that’s positive,” Carroll said.
“It’s very, very difficult. What are your expectations when a guy takes over? It’s hard to say you’re going to turn it around and all that kind of stuff. But Ed is a tough guy, a good guy who knows football and really loves and knows that program as well as anybody. I think he’ll do the best anybody can do at this time.”