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Around USC they call it the Kiffin Effect.

“That is frustrating because I know a completely different person from what a lot of people assume that he is,” said Layla Kiffin, Lane’s wife. “But then you ask the team and you ask the parents that know him, and they all can say the same things I do. He is personable. And he is funny. And he’s extremely smart. He’s very gifted and talented at what he does.

“It wasn’t that he’s spoiled and his dad groomed him to be what he is. I understand why he gets the criticism, but there’s so much more to him.”

Haden didn’t hire Kiffin, he inherited him from former AD Mike Garrett, who was pushed out after the NCAA hammered USC.

“I’ve come to appreciate Lane,” Haden said. “You can’t ask for a guy who’s going to work harder and be more dedicated.”

Haden said Kiffin has been “nothing but compliant,” when it comes to NCAA regulations. The team has done well academically and off-the-field issues have been minimal, he added.

Haden called Kiffin a very good recruiter and good play caller.

“I think he’s maturing as a coach,” Haden said. “I don’t think the reality is anywhere near the perception of being aloof, arrogant. Confident, yes. I love confidence.”

And Haden said Kiffin has taken full responsibility for last year’s fade.

“He looked at everything. What does he need to change. What does he need to do different,” Haden said.

Kiffin is 25-13 at USC while dealing a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years.

“I think he’s been as good as he can be,” Haden said. “The NCAA didn’t give us these sanctions to keep us winning. We’re working our way through them. You have to grade (Kiffin) a little bit on the curve.”

Kiffin understands his image is tied directly to his record.

“Winning hides a lot of problems and losing creates a lot of problems,” he said. “Somebody was saying to me, man this year you really had a lot of screw ups. Seems like you really matured two years ago and then you regressed and fell back.

“I said `No, I didn’t all of sudden regress.’ I said we went 10-2, but nobody wrote at the end of the year about the fact that I got fined in the middle of year $10,000 from the commissioner for complaining about officials. We beat UCLA 50-0 to end the season, nobody ever wrote about Kiffin’s screw ups during the season, what a baby he is complaining about officials.

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