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“But (when) you lose this year, now all of sudden _ the balls being deflated, which I knew nothing about at all, that’s still being written about. People still bring it up about what a bad season I had, and how I regressed. But if we would have won all the games, won 11, 12, 13 games, it wouldn’t have come up later or been written about my immaturity. When you lose things get magnified like that.”

Kiffin said he often wonders how his career would have played out if it had taken a more typical trajectory. If he had endured his growing pains without so many people watching.

The result is a coaching career that can be measured in dog years. It’s as if Kiffin has already coached a lifetime. So if and when the end comes at USC, he’s ready.

“Whether they fire me tomorrow or if I’m here 15 years,” he said with a smile, “I’m retiring either way.”


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