Lane Kiffin Woke Me Up

Photo: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Last night I awoke at 2:30 a.m. from a bad dream where the USC Trojans were trailing the UCLA Bruins.  Yes, I dream about football.

Bear with me, I’ll get to a relevant point.

In the dream, USC trailed by 7-points with 3:30 left to play when the defense scooped up a fumble. Instead of attempting to drive for a game tying touchdown which would at least force overtime, USC head coach Lane Kiffin elects not to run an offensive play. Instead, he kicks a 49-yard field goal cutting the lead to 4-points.

Craziness… I know. I woke up thinking why would a coach make a move like that? Sure, it closes the gap and potentially preserves enough time to go for the win, but it also paints the team into a corner. The only option available for the Trojans would be to get the ball back on defense and drive for a game winning touchdown.

It actually made me think about viral video. Many companies want to create the next great viral video, but that quest does bring risk. Groupon created a Super Bowl ad I’m sure they hoped would go viral the next day. It did, but for all the wrong reasons. Using the Tibetan people’s oppression as a gag offended a lot people and turned out to be an embarrassing failure.

Creativity is a great thing, but don’t confuse creativity with boldness.  Businesses striving to be bold need to avoid painting themselves into a corner where winning is the only option.

I’m not saying don’t go for it. Everyone’s risk-reward threshold is different.  Just keep your eyes open… and maybe a good PR pro on standby.

–Tony Gnau