Lane Kiffin: My mouth gets me in trouble
Vilified. Controversial. Funny?
"My 5-year-old daughter, Landry, for some reason, tries to get under my skin all the time," said the new coach for USC, who along with other Pac-10 coaches visited ESPN's campus in Connecticut on Wednesday. "She likes to run around and say her favorite person in the NFL is Al Davis. I don't know where she got that idea from."
Davis is the Oakland Raiders owner who hired Kiffin in 2007 -- making him the youngest head coach in modern NFL history -- and then, a year later, fired him and then went on national TV to rake him over the coals.
"It wasn't me who told her that!" said Kiffin's wife, Layla.
Kiffin quipped: "Hey, I don't think she's part of the interview. She's eating."
Is this the new Lane Kiffin, the coach who has stepped in it a little too much and talked about it a little too much?
"It doesn't fit my personality to be quiet," said Kiffin, who has come under fire at every stop in his coaching career. "I don't want to keep saying 'no comment' to everyone. So I'm very open and to a fault. It's really hurt me over time."
The son of legendary NFL defensive coach Monte Kiffin, Lane parlayed five years with USC as an assistant coach into 20 games as Oakland Raiders coach, one year at the University of Tennessee and now the head-coaching position at one of the most storied programs in the nation. And he left those previous two coaching jobs under acrimonious circumstances.
Page 2: Why in the world would you put yourself through this today?
Kiffin: "It's just part of the job. This is the world I live in. Right, wrong, indifferent. I just need to get to next week. That's when we get to practice."
Do you realized you're hated?
"That's your world. I don't hear that stuff. That's not what I deal with on a daily basis. In this profession, people tell you what you want to hear most of the time. That's 99 percent of the people I deal with. They tell me everything is great. I don't have to hear from bloggers or writers out there. I don't deal with it."
Come on. Seriously? The Tennessee Titans -- and USC alum Jeff Fisher -- are suing you and you have a suit still against the Oakland Raiders!
"I don't picture it as Jeff Fisher suing me. I've had a conversation with him. He understands what took place, and I think he feels better about it. Lawsuits are involved, so I can't really talk about those things. Yes, it makes things difficult when I try to answer questions."
I don't think you'll be vacationing in Knoxville, right? What do you say to the Vols fans?
"You have to be confident in yourself. At Tennessee, I knew we did the best job we could. While we were there, we made progress and we were going in the right direction. The roster, when we left, was much better than when we arrived. Yes, I know it wasn't perfect timing."
What about that infamous press conference?
"Looking back, I should have listened to my advisers. They told me I shouldn't have done anything. I should have just left. But I felt really connected to that local media. They had been extremely positive toward us. I wanted to go above that. I didn't want to just get on the plane and take off. I had planned to have a sit-down with local media explaining my decision -- off the record -- and then give a prepared statement. But it backfired. No one had the patience. If I had a chance to do it over again, I would have just done nothing and left."
Ever want to go back to the NFL?
"I love where I am at. I don't know whether I'd want to go to the NFL. Here, I can build my roster from recruits. I don't have to worry about salary cap and free agency."
Can you talk about USC and the past few weeks?
"It's a tough situation to talk about that because of all the sanctions. Our recruiting hasn't suffered. It's going to be a big challenge for us. But it's still a powerful place, a great place to get a degree. We can move forward. It is my dream job. When I had that opening press conference, I said it then and believe it to be true."
Layla chimed in: "We were just happy to get back. Our kids were born here. This is our home."
OK, are you ready for this season?
"This first year is most difficult and extremely challenging. That's why I'm in the office all the time. I told Layla that it only will happen for the first year. Then again, I've been saying that for three years in a row."
Is this the new funnier Lane Kiffin?
Lynn Hoppes is Senior Director of Page 2 and Commentary for ESPN.com.