Kiffin keeps the keys to the offense

After a coaching performance against Stanford that he has since described as disappointing, USC coach Lane Kiffin entertained the possibility of handing over offensive coordinator duties to another member of his staff, he said Wednesday.

He ultimately decided against it, however, citing a desire to maintain the relationships he's cultivated with the Trojans' skill-position players.

But the consideration was real, as Kiffin thought it might provide a way for him to better lead the Trojans' attack.

"At the end of the day, at this time, I’ve just felt it’s too valuable for the relationship that play-calling helps me develop with our offensive players -- specifically our skilled players and the quarterback," Kiffin said Wednesday. "I think there’s a lot to that."

Kiffin's relationships with Matt Barkley, his signal-caller, and star receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods have been productive, by and large. But in operating as coordinator as well as head coach he has meant sacrificing some things as well. He has said he felt too focused on fixing his play-calling at halftime of the Stanford game, for example, and not focused enough on motivating his players.

Now, he's making a more conscious effort to do both.

"You better look at everything," Kiffin said. "Look at everything that you’re doing, everything within your program."

USC's offensive coordinator is Kennedy Polamalu, but Polamalu's primary focus is as the team's running backs coach. He coaches games from the sidelines, not from the booth up top, where he might see the full breadth of the USC attack and the opposition's alignments.

Kiffin has been his own offensive coordinator since he became the Oakland Raiders' head coach in 2007. Wednesday, he recalled a conversation he had with former USC coach Pete Carroll upon first taking the position in Oakland.

"He said the worst thing I can do is to give all that up, because the players feel that from you and the relationships it creates," Kiffin said. "That’s always kind of sat in the back of my head when I’ve thought about it."