Kiffin and USC strive for drama-free 2013 season

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Lane Kiffin has an idea.

He’s not serious about it. Not really. There is, however, just a hint in his voice that suggests he’s not totally joking, either.

“I did think the other day what it would be like to be a high school head coach or to be at a small school,” Kiffin said. “I thought about it the other day. The first time. I wonder if there’s something to that peace of mind. Maybe it’s something I can go back and do when I get older. I’m going to go coach high school.

“It’s just the game. It’s the game in its realest sense and it’s fun. Working with the kids and not all this other stuff. You go back and have fun.”

If Kiffin’s Trojans have another season like last year, he may not have to wait long to give high school a try.

Nonetheless, on this day, with spring practice fading in the rearview mirror, it’d be hard to find a guy on the USC campus in a better mood than the Trojans’ football coach.

As he relaxes on the big, white, leather sectional couch in his office, sunshine spilling through the sliding glass doors that lead out to a small patio, Kiffin seems at ease as he considers the future of a coaching career spent mostly in the brightest of spotlights.

NFL head coach at 31. SEC head coach at 33. Head coach of USC at 34. When it comes to acronyms, the 37-year-old Kiffin’s resume has some of the best in sports on it.

But it’s been a bumpy ride for the boy wonder, bouncing from one volatile situation to another. When it comes to turmoil, Kiffin seems to either walk into it or create it. It’s a talent that has made him maybe the most vilified man in college football today.

It’s part of what prompts the inevitable question, but suggest to Kiffin that he’s coaching for his job this season and he answers, “I always feel like that’s the case.”

Kiffin’s boss, USC athletic director Pat Haden, brushes off that idea as well.

“I’m not going to start getting into those things,” he said. “I’m not going to make any pronouncements. Let’s just enjoy the season.”

There’s definitely a no-drama vibe emanating from USC these days. The Trojans are still dealing with NCAA sanctions handed down in 2010 for the Reggie Bush scandal, but they will be neither bowl-banned nor No. 1 going into the 2013 season.

After USC went 7-6 last season, Kiffin replaced about half his assistants, including his father, the longtime and well-respected NFL defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, and preached to his staff that he wanted to recreate the passion and energy of his first season in this, his fourth with the Trojans.

He said others have told him he seems more relaxed this spring, and his boss is fine with the team flying under the radar.

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