USC vs. UCLA: What a Loss Would Mean for Lane Kiffin's Job Status
It seems like yesterday when head coach Lane Kiffin was labeling his return to USC his "dream job". In reality, that took place three long years ago, and USC fans are still patiently waiting for the success to arrive.
Most high-profile coaches are given a little more leeway to build a program and get things off the ground, but when you are the head coach of the USC Trojans, you are expected to win right away.
When the Trojans travel to the Rose Bowl this weekend to take on the UCLA Bruins at 3:05 p.m. ET on Fox, Kiffin will be coaching to prevent landing on the hot seat.
Sure, Kiffin took over a program that was going through rough times with the NCAA sanctions, but there isn't an excuse to fall back on this year, which has many USC fans upset with the quality of football their team has played this season.
With a disappointing 7-3 season hanging over the coach’s head, he better have a quality game plan in place for how his team will pull off a victory. If not, the heat will be on and he may soon have to design his resume for his next possible coaching gig.
Kiffin left Tennessee to dive head-first into a big mess at USC when former head coach Pete Carroll decided the NFL was better than having to deal with the NCAA. Due to a scandal involving USC running back Reggie Bush, the program received reduced scholarships, a two-year bowl ban and the NCAA allowed players to transfer to other schools immediately.
Despite playing for nothing but pride, Kiffin continued to recruit well for the program and finished with a combined record of 18-7 his first two years as head coach.
However, this was the season USC was supposed to make up for lost time. Many of the upperclassmen returned, including quarterback Matt Barkley, who could have been a first-round pick in last year’s NFL draft.
The team was supposed to be the best outside of the SEC, receiving an overwhelming amount of votes from the media to win the Pac-12 Championship. Former Penn State player Silas Redd decided to transfer to USC because running back depth was supposed to be the missing ingredient towards accomplishing a national championship dream.
Everything was looking terrific on paper, and everybody was buying into the fact that this was going to be the year of the Trojans.
But then an upsetting loss happened early in the year to Stanford. Despite winning four games in a row after the loss, USC then lost to an unranked Arizona program and couldn't play a lick of defense against Oregon.
The team that was pegged the best in the Pac-12 early in the year, would end up missing the Pac-12 title game all together with a loss to UCLA this weekend. This is certainly not the way things were expected to go in 2012.
Not only do we have the poor performances this season, but we also have the issues with Kiffin storming off at press conferences, a jersey switching controversy and the mysterious deflated ball incident. All of which aren't exactly helping matters when we are talking about Kiffin and job security.
If USC loses to UCLA for the first time since 2006, the seat has to be hotter than it has ever been.
Should Kiffin be fired at the end of the year?
You could say that Kiffin is a great recruiter, but this is USC, top recruits are going to line up out the door if the Michelin Man was calling the plays. We are talking about a historic program that is one of the best in the country and plays games in sunny California. Uh, 5-star players are still going to show up.
This program is about winning national championships and competing year in and year out. If the results aren't showing up, then something has to be done.
If Kiffin wasn't able to succeed with arguably the best quarterback in the country, two future NFL wide receivers, a talented backfield and an athletic defense, when will he be able to produce success?
The 2004 championship team is long gone, Lynn Swann is not walking through that door anytime soon and O.J. Simpson is too caught up in legal troubles to lend a helping hand. Kiffin had his chance to emerge as a quality head coach, and he blew it with the performance this year.
The pressure is on.
Either the head coach begins to step up, or it will soon be time for USC to bring in the next guy to take this program back to the top.
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