Monte Kiffin hurting over USC's struggles

It's great when a son gets to work with his father, even if the role reversal of the son being the boss is a bit unusual.

But it's not so great when things are going badly and Dad feels like he's letting down Son, which is the situation at USC.

There's no other way to say it: Monte Kiffin's defense is playing poorly, while Lane Kiffin's offense is doing well. If the USC defense had been just solid this season -- instead of ranked 99th in the nation -- the Trojans would be 5-0 and probably ranked in or near the top 10. As it is, they are unranked in the AP poll for just the second time since the start of the 2002 season.

Nice Bill Plaschke column here on the matter.

I remember interviewing Bobby Bowden for a story I did on nepotism in college coaching a few years ago. You might recall Bowden caught some heat when he promoted his son, Jeff, to offensive coordinator when Mark Richt was hired away by Georgia. And you might recall that he caught even more heat as the Seminoles' offense started a precipitous slide.

Bowden told me he'd never fire his son. "Blood is thicker than water to me," he said. "I'll live and die with my decision."

But, of course, when things got too hot, his hand was forced -- Jeff Bowden resigned late in the 2006 season -- and Jimbo Fisher was hired away from LSU.

And we all know what happened next. Bowden was eventually pushed aside so Fisher could take over. So Bowden, figuratively, "died" by that decision.

Monte Kiffin took a huge pay cut and left the familiarity of the NFL to coach with his son at Tennessee and then USC. It should have been a neat story, but it mostly got lost in the constant flow of Lane Kiffin controversies.

But, at present, it's a painful story. Consider this from Lane Kiffin:

"Can you imagine leaving something you love to take care of your child, and then to feel like you've let him down?" Lane said. "I keep telling my father that it's about all of us, but he's not hearing that."

Two thoughts on Monte Kiffin's defense: 1) It would be a lot better right now if defensive linemen Nick Perry, Wes Horton and Armond Armstead were 100 percent; 2) Don't be surprised if things start to click as the season progresses.