One of the benefits to getting USC coach Lane Kiffin in a room for 30 minutes where he's obligated to listen to a never-ending stream of questions and answer most of them is it equals an opportunity to get some long-standing questions answered. Here are notes going off of his most interesting answers:
By now, it's well-known that the Trojans have to be at 75 total scholarships or fewer by the time fall camp comes around in August. Kiffin has said it over and over in recent months as a reminder that his USC team is still very much under sanctions.
But he refuses to reveal where his squad is at right now, after taking on 12 more signees this week and five as January enrollees. The only hint he would give to the team's roster status was telling a reporter who asked about it Wednesday that it's not quite as grim as he might imagine.
Luckily, we can do the math and get a tentative number for where the Trojans stand right now.
With the 17 new players added to the 60 scholarship returners, USC has 77 players on scholarship as of now, as far as we know. That number does not include players like Armond Armstead but does include the former walk-ons who were given scholarships, like linebacker Will Andrew.
We'll get into who else is no longer part of the program further down. But 77 is a manageable number.
It might end up being 76 if Jesse Scroggins can't get his academics together. The redshirt sophomore quarterback from nearby Lakewood High has "fallen behind" in school, per Kiffin, and "has a lot of work to do" to become eligible for the 2012 season.
Of course, the Trojans also put on a huge late recruiting push for Colorado prep quarterback Cyler Miles, a similar signal-caller to Scroggins. So it's obvious that USC isn't exactly counting on Scroggins being a part of the team in the long term.
And, in front of him on the depth chart Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, who are both a year younger too. That could be an issue.
Not part of the program
Kiffin did confirm that three players are no longer part of the Trojans' football program in defensive backs Patrick Hall and T.J. Bryant and Armstead, a defensive lineman.
Armstead had said he would attend graduate classes at USC in the spring, but Kiffin indicated that he was not doing so. Hall could return to the program at a later time but is still recovering from a second torn ACL and also struggling academically.
He has been attending the winter throwing sessions, however.
No resolution at secondary coach
Sammy Knight took over as the unofficial defensive backs coach for the Trojans when Willie Mack Garza resigned the week of the season opener in September, but Knight has still not been upgraded to full assistant coach status.
Kiffin said Wednesday he had not decided on a long-term option at that spot because he had been focused on recruiting, but added that he anticipated the spot being filled relatively soon. Players raved about Knight's coaching abilities throughout the 2011 season.
With one recruiting slot open because of Garza's departure, Trojans athletic director Pat Haden filled in as a recruiter during the final stages of the recruiting season last month. Kiffin joked that Haden needed some work at that part of his job because the two players he visited in-home -- offensive tackles Andrus Peat and Kyle Murphy -- ended up choosing Stanford over USC.