1. Remember when bowls used to pick teams in October? That’s how we got the BCS. Firing coaches is happening earlier and earlier. But history says that USC athletic director Pat Haden is smart. He gets the jump on other schools in the annual coaching employment fair. In 2004, Florida fired Ron Zook in late October and beat Notre Dame to Urban Meyer. In 2011, Arizona fired Mike Stoops in mid-October and got to Rich Rodriguez before anyone else. Haden didn’t even wait until Oct. 1.
2. Whatever mistakes Kiffin made on the field, he didn’t help himself off the field. Faced with crippling scholarship sanctions, Kiffin didn’t do a very good job of explaining and selling the effects of those losses on his program. He fanned the hype of being a preseason No. 1 last season when the Trojans didn’t have the depth to withstand injuries. Contrast Kiffin to Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, who has made it clear to his fans and to the public that Penn State will fight hard, but they will fight uphill. Gene Wojciechowski said it: the worst thing Kiffin did was go 10-2 two years ago.
3. If Kiffin does nothing else, he provides Skip Holtz with an example of how things could be worse. A year ago, Holtz’s South Florida team was a preseason favorite in the Big East. The Bulls went 3-9, and instead of finishing in a BCS bowl, Holtz had to look for a job. He took over at Louisiana Tech, which lost 17 starters from last season’s 9-3 team (a reminder of why Sonny Dykes left for Cal). The Bulldogs are 0-4 against FBS opponents, none of them worldbeaters, and Holtz has lost 13 of his last 14 FBS games.