Pat Haden backs Lane Kiffin

LOS ANGELES -- USC athletic director Pat Haden still believes coach Lane Kiffin is the right man for the job, despite the Trojans' disappointing start this season.

The Trojans, who entered the season ranked No. 1, have lost twice to lower-ranked teams and have fallen to No. 18 in the AP poll.

USC's next opponent is Oregon (No. 4 BCS, No. 2 AP) on Saturday -- a game many experts expect the Trojans to lose.

"I'm very supportive of Lane Kiffin," Haden said Thursday in an interview on 'ESPNLA Now' on ESPN 710 radio. "I've said this over and over again: I think Lane Kiffin is a very good coach, and I think he has a big-time future here at USC. I really do."

Kiffin began as the Trojans' coach in January 2010, before Haden took over for Mike Garrett as the school's athletic director. But Haden previously was a part of the school's board of trustees that approved Kiffin's hiring, and he consistently has praised the coach over the past two-plus years.

He said that's not changing, even with USC's unexpected failures this season.

"Do we have to play better?" Haden asked. "Yes. Are we disappointed that we lost two games? Yes. But we're in a situation this week where we're playing the No. 2- or No. 3-ranked team in the country, and we can beat anybody that's on our schedule. Let's see how this season plays out here."

Haden played quarterback at USC in the 1970s and went on to become a Rhodes Scholar and NFL signal-caller. Known for his sense of humor, he joked Thursday that he was surprised the Trojans still have fans supporting them after their start.

Haden also said USC's remaining regular-season games against Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA and Notre Dame will determine the overall success of the season.

"I know people are jumping off and on the bandwagon here," Haden said. "My job is to provide a steady view and support our coaches, provide him with an environment that gives him every chance to be successful.

"We have that chance the next four weeks. Let's see how it goes."