Jan. 13. Three minutes to press time, the air is pregnant with anticipation as a man announces to the stuffy conference room, “He’s on the freeway.” By L.A. traffic standards that can mean anything. Sure enough, almost an hour later the same man returns to the room and announces his arrival. Heavy minutes pass until “WE ARE SC” chants are heard in Heritage Hall, where Trojan students enthusiastically welcome him, their new head football coach – Lane Kiffin.

Former University of Tennessee Volunteers head coach Kiffin comes to the University of Southern California after the Trojan legend Pete Carroll announced on Jan. 11 that he would be leaving his position as head football coach after nine seasons to try his hand with NFL team Seattle Seahawks.

USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett starts the press conference poetically, by saying, “Whenever I think of the head football coach at USC, I think of him as being a leader. The first time I saw Lane Kiffin, I saw a leader in the making.”

Garrett refers to having Kiffin as a former staff member from 2001-2006 when he held several positions ranging from wide receivers coach, passing game coordinator, offensive coordinator and also recruiting coordinator. In his three years as recruiting coordinator at USC, the Trojans had a top-ranked recruiting class in college football every year; as offensive coordinator, Kiffin helped guide USC to a 23–3 record.

After spending a year as NFL Oakland Raiders head coach, the University of Tennessee Volunteers announced Kiffin as the school’s 21st head football coach on December 1, 2008. In that short amount of time, records show slight improvement for UT, having gone from a 5-7 record in 2008 to 7-6 in 2009.

At the conference, Kiffin offers that we, the outsiders, can only see numbers, and not the real development of the student athletes he helped guide during his time with the Volunteers.

But does a true leader leave his team hanging after only a year? Geovanny, a junior student at SC sympathizes with Tennessee fans: “They’re like the bride left waiting at a wedding. I hope he doesn’t jump ship anytime soon with us.”

Questions aimed at Kiffin target his short time at Tennessee, curious if this hire was best for the Trojan legacy. Kiffin replies by saying that Tennessee has been a Top 10 team, therefore making it a Top 10 job.

“USC is the No. 1 place to be,” he says. “This my dream job, the best job in America.”

He claims that USC is the perfect fit for him, and he and his family are “glad to be home.”

Returning junior David Ausberry, wide receiver, is “glad to have him back.” Ausberry says Kiffin originally recruited him, so he treats this situation as a reunion with an old friend.

Comments at the conference also push the high standards that Trojan fans expect of him – and Kiffin loves it. He enjoys the pressure that people have set for him and the team, and he “would love to be tagged as Pete’s extension.”

Freshman quarterback, Matt Barkley, is pleased with the new coach.

He comments with a grin, “I’m excited, really excited. Just glad he came out here.”

Junior linebacker Malcolm Smith agrees, “I’m excited and ready to move on. We’re ready to win a championship – that’s our plan.”

As for the top tier high school recruiting class who are deciding their athletic careers this February? Freshman offensive lineman John Martinez tells the new recruits to “go where you feel is best for you.”

Hopefully, for the future of the Trojan football program, it is in their best interest to “Fight On.”