LOS ANGELES -- For obvious reasons, Lane Kiffin would like to forget 2012. But he knows he can’t. It’s not the head coach’s job to sweep it under the rug and pretend “7-6” won’t appear in the media guide -- an annual reminder of how a potentially extraordinary season turned out to be remarkably mediocre.
However, it doesn’t mean the players and his assistants need to linger on it. In fact, he’s doing everything he can to get them to avoid the subject.
“On a day-to-day basis, it’s not brought up here at all,” Kiffin said. “The finish was so bad. So negative. So draining emotionally, physically on players, coaches, everything. It just doesn’t do any good to live in that world.”
So they are moving on from that world -- that world where the preseason No. 1 Trojans fell harder than any previous No. 1 before them. Moving on from that world where tremendous expectations were matched only by tremendous disappointments.
Kiffin doesn’t have that luxury. He has to remember all of it for the simple purpose of not letting it happen again. He’s well versed in the expression that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
“From a head coaching perspective, I would never ignore it,” Kiffin said. “You always want to analyze it, study it, make changes so it doesn’t happen again … You have to make sure that you have looked at all of it. Because things are going to come up again and you want to make sure you are always learning from it.”
After opening the season by winning six of their first seven -- the only loss coming on the road to eventual Pac-12 champion Stanford -- the Trojans went into a tailspin in the second half of the year. They won just one game in their last six -- a home victory against Arizona State -- while suffering losses to Arizona, Oregon, Notre Dame and UCLA before ending the year with a very loud thud against Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.
A dramatic turnaround isn’t out of the question. The last time USC entered a season coming off of a six-loss campaign was 2002. And that team went 10-2 and closed out the year with eight straight wins and a victory over Iowa in the Orange Bowl. And in the 120 years of USC football, 2012 was only the 13th time the team had at least six losses. Historical trends are on Kiffin’s side.
So as far as his players are concerned, 2012 might as well be 1912 (for the record, there was no USC football in 1912. It was rugby). It’s ancient history.
“From a team perspective and a player perspective, we totally want to move on,” Kiffin said. “We don’t talk about it. We don’t bring it up. Our assistants and players can’t be looking in the rearview mirror. It’s about looking forward and moving forward.”