What to do with Kiffin?
Still reason to believe
We keep reading about how USC's coaches squandered so much talent this season, but where's the evidence?
Take a hard look at this group of players and you hardly walk away wowed by the overall talent level. You know how many first-team all-Pac-12 defensive players the Trojans had this year? Try zero. Every conference team with a winning record had at least one.
You know how many first-round draft picks this defense will boast? Try zero. Safety T.J. McDonald is viewed as the top NFL target on this defense and he's probably a second-rounder at best.
Contrast that with a few years ago, when the best pass-rushing linebacker in the NFL, Clay Matthews, could barely get off the bench his junior season. In 2008, the Trojans had four first-round picks. The next season, they had four picked among the first 38.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper recently told our Pedro Moura that quarterback Matt Barkley might even slip into the second round after a disappointing, injury-marred senior season.
So, where did these unrealistic expectations come from, the Trojans absurdly tagged with a No. 1 AP ranking back in August? Essentially, from two games -- a three-point win at Oregon and a 50-0 thrashing of UCLA -- and three players -- Barkley, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods.
Is it Lane Kiffin's fault that Barkley threw 15 interceptions in 11 games? Is it his fault that Woods was slowed all year by an ankle injury, compounded by what certainly looked like a concussion against Utah?
It's just not a good look for a major program to change coaches like it is changing shirts. Kiffin didn't go from smart to dumb in one season just because a team with fairly low expectations won 10 games and a team with ridiculously inflated expectations won seven.
It's just not that simple and Kiffin deserves one more season to turn it back around.
Hasn't delivered in biggest moments
Will Lane Kiffin get another chance at USC? Yes.
Should he? No.
This isn't a knee-jerk reaction to a bad season but an opinion based on his three seasons at USC, two of which have resulted in five-loss years. USC hasn't seen that many losses over a three-year span since Paul Hackett was the coach. Even Hackett didn't lose to UCLA and Notre Dame in the same season, which USC hadn't done since 1995 before Kiffin accomplished the dubious feat this season.
Not only did USC go from a preseason No. 1 team to unranked after a 7-5 season but he consistently was outcoached in big games.
The worst quarter this season for USC was the third quarter, normally the quarter where coaches are supposed to make halftime adjustments. USC only outscored two teams (Colorado and Utah) this season in the third quarter.
Even their 7-5 record isn't that great when you consider every team USC beat had at least five losses. They didn't beat a single ranked team and Kiffin has only beat one ranked team during his time at USC.
Kiffin will get another chance at USC but a quick look at his record shows he shouldn't.