PASADENA, Calif. -- Before USC's 38-28 loss to crosstown rival UCLA on Saturday, athletic director Pat Haden assured coach Lane Kiffin that he would return in 2013 regardless of the outcome of the Trojans' last few games.
Kiffin told reporters after the game that he had a recent conversation with Haden that assured him his job was safe. Haden, who initially declined comment as he came off the Rose Bowl field following Saturday's loss, later confirmed Kiffin's account in a text message to ESPNLosAngeles.com.
"Absolutely," Haden said in the message.
The Trojans (No. 18 BCS, No. 21 AP) entered the season ranked No. 1 in the AP poll, but have lost to Stanford, Arizona, Oregon and UCLA, with three of those losses in the past month, to drop to 7-4. They were eliminated from Rose Bowl consideration with Saturday's loss, which sent UCLA to the Pac-12 title game Nov. 30.
Kiffin, who also is USC's offensive coordinator, has been willing to take on some of the blame for the Trojans' disappointing season, including the 24-0 hole his team fell in early Saturday. Senior quarterback Matt Barkley threw two interceptions and was outplayed by UCLA freshman quarterback Brett Hundley.
"Obviously, we're extremely disappointed in the season. We're too talented to have this many losses, and that falls on me," Kiffin said.