“I’m behind Lane Kiffin 100%. I have great confidence in him. He’s a very hard-working, detail-oriented coach. He’s a dynamic play-caller, in my estimation, and he’s an exceptional recruiter."
“He knows USC and he knows what it takes to be successful here.”
These are the words of one USC athletic director Pat Haden just days before the PAC 12 media day in July earlier this year. In order to extinguish or deflate the level of questions he would be approached with on the heels of the upcoming season- Haden performed perhaps a damage control type move.
And yet today- damage control took on a whole new look.
No longer does the phrase "i'm confident" apply to coaching these days when an athletic director steps to the podium.
In a 'win now' era it was only a matter of time for Kiffin if this were a typical coaching downfall.
Kiffin was the by-product of the mess Pete Carrol and Reggie Bush left the football program in. Levied with recruiting rectrictions that no coach could overcome, Kiffin struggled to put together wins and maintain any form of success when it comes to the expectations of the Trojan base.
The challenge took on new meanings when practices consisted of menial contact. Walk ons found their place and even 5 star recruits like Dillon Baxter saw some of the writing on the wall and transfered as soon as possible.
USC and Kiffin had their hands full and mounting any season without extreme negative results would be a task larger than the program itself.
If the question is whether or not the coach doomed the season for the 2013 Trojans-one would have to ask himself if a coach like Saban or Urban could have faired better.
Against Arizona State the Trojans fielded around 50 players.
Ohio State would lose any big game-like Wisconsin- if Meyer had those odds to contend with.
Alabama may have lost to A&M if they unboarded the buses with 50 players. Depth is not an issue today for the Tide and its the sole reason they win titles these days. Its often suggested their 2nd string is worthy of many first string units across the landscape. But take away 30 players from that team and a different approach is at hand and perhaps the Crimson Tide don't roll as often as they have, even with Saban.
Kiffin and USC were litterally in no-mans land.
And even a last minute effort on Hadens part to approach the NCAA for some relaxation on their penalties couldn't salvage the season.
That alone suggests and validates Haden knew of the Trojans state in the game: They cannot contend week in and week out with the level of restrictions placed over their heads.
No coach at any level could sustain or hold back the pourous results that were only a matter of time.
So why axe the head coach today?
If recruits talking about defections or being uneasy was cause for concern and led to the decision-they have already defected and remain uneasy knowing getting hurt in practice limits the teams chances of fielding a good unit altogether and perhaps could end a players season when all was but lost already.
Everyone from players to coaches have been hamstrung from an era not associated in part with themselves today.
They boarded a life raft already leaking and were fully aware of what lay ahead for them. No coach or player can blame any person but themselves for the position they are in today at USC.
To hold the coach responsible is the normal step for lackluster results. At USC, the expectations are high and it was only a matter of time for Kiffin.
But if there is some blame to go around in Los Angelas, those people have long since jetted to Detroit and Seattle.