OK, so there is no getting around it, USC's 2012 season has been an unmitigated disaster.
At 7-4, with an undefeated Notre Dame team looming in the headlights and a devastating loss to its cross-town rival still fresh on their fans' minds, the quiet rumblings of discontent have now turned into a loud roar.
And to be fair, there is justification for the anger felt by those who follow the men of Troy.
With those four losses and another one likely on the way, fans are left wondering how such a talented team could find ways to lose on a regular basis.
Lacking any definitive answers, they point the finger directly at head coach Lane Kiffin and surmise that the only cure to the Trojans' ills is the removal of the man responsible for what goes on in the field of play.
But is this the right call or just a knee-jerk response to an immediate problem that requires long-term solutions?
This slideshow will look at five reasons why Lane Kiffin is still the right man for the job despite the implosion that is USC's 2012 season.
Are there valid reasons to remove Kiffin? Sure, but there are many more reasons to keep him and here are the top five...
Before we show Lane Kiffin the door, wouldn't it be prudent to allow him to make the necessary changes that this season has magnified?
The two that come immediately to mind are a Trojan defense that appears to be regressing as the season goes on and Kiffin's play-calling on offense.
While the former would require Lane to either fire or demote his father—an unenviable task to be sure—it is the latter that may be the most difficult for the head coach to digest.
That is because it flies in the face of logic that the former "boy genius" has lost his ability to chart an offensive game plan in just one year.
Celebrated as a play-caller after going 10-2 in 2011, Kiffin is now being called to task in 2012 for what many believe is an inability to use the many Trojan offensive weapons in an effective manner.
A more salient argument is that Kiffin simply needs to shed some responsibilities in order to focus on the many flaws the team has in all facets of its game.
Whatever the case, shouldn't the head coach be allowed to perform corrective actions before he is given the axe?
Expectations are an unforgiving mistress. Fulfill them and you're just doing what you were supposed to. Fall short and you are a bum.
Of course, the perceived abilities of the 2012 Trojans lent themselves to those lofty goals, but is it possible that the experts—and the fanbase—misread their capabilities?
After all, the defense was perceived to be a possible liability before the season started, and that has been exactly the case over the last few games.
The offensive line was also somewhat of a question mark with the graduation of left tackle Matt Kalil and to few people's surprise, the new guys—Aundrey Walker and Max Tuerk—have struggled as well.
Couple that with a disappointing year by Matt Barkley and Robert Woods among others, and it is easy to see why the Trojans are where they are.
Yes, I know that Kiffin himself said at the beginning of the year that he had lofty ambitions for this team but really, what else would you expect him to say—that he held little hope for a successful season?
While it is fair to point the finger at Kiffin, a long, wary eye must also be cast in the direction of the team itself.
How soon fickle fans forget.
Last year when Kiffin was guiding a young a Trojan team to a 10-2 record, he was the toast of Los Angeles and his praises were being sung far and wide, including by the talking heads at places like ESPN.
Entering this year, those same experts (and fans) were salivating at the thought of Matt Barkley and his talented offensive teammates running roughshod over their hapless competition.
Unfortunately for those fans, Barkley has had a mediocre year and many of those stalwart offensive players the Trojans were counting on have been far less than scintillating in 2012.
Look, no one is arguing that Kiffin hasn't had his own issues this year but last time I checked, he wasn't throwing or catching passes and he certainly wasn't missing blocking assignments.
Let's stop blaming him for all of the Trojans' ills and give him a chance to make up for it in 2013.
Ed Orgeron (Recruiting coordinator)
Say what you want about Lane Kiffin, but he and his staff are master recruiters.
This year, the Trojans have put together what many people think is the best recruiting class in the nation and while USC's woeful efforts on the field may cost it a couple of recruits by national signing day, just watch what happens to this class if Kiffin is dismissed.
The foundation for any successful college football team is how well it recruits and in this area, Kiffin is one of the best in the nation.
If he goes, so does this recruiting class and really, is that what any fan of the program wants?
I didn't think so.
Bad news Kiffin haters. It appears that your calls for a coaching change will have to wait at least another year.
After USC's debacle against the UCLA Bruins, Trojan athletic director Pat Haden came out in support of Lane Kiffin by saying that he will "absolutely return for 2013."
This is interesting on a couple of levels, not the least of which is that Haden must have a pretty high regard for Kiffin as a coach and the lead guy for the portion of the athletic department that generates by far the most income for the university.
And it should be noted that Kiffin was not hired by Haden. Typically, when employees of this sort struggle, they are often jettisoned in favor of the boss bringing in "their own guys."
That won't be case next year, which begs the question:
If Haden—whose job it is to guide USC's athletic fortunes—is comfortable with Lane Kiffin at the helm of Trojan football, shouldn't the fans be also?
Just a question.
Given the colossal face-plant that has become USC's season, it is certainly understandable why many fans would seek a change at the top.
And while the failures on the field are bad enough, others will point to Kiffin's transgressions off the field where battles with beat reporters, switched jersey numbers and the notorious "deflated ball" fiasco provided an unwelcome distraction both for the program as well as the coach.
What is also true is that Lane Kiffin took over a program that was jilted by a legendary coach (Pete Carroll) who saw the writing on the wall—not only in terms of looming NCAA sanctions but also a dearth of talent—and skedaddled to Seattle at the first opportunity.
A rough first year was followed by a much better than expected 10-2 in 2011 and of course, this year has been a huge disappointment, but it could have been much, much worse.
Kiffin has delivered very good—and sometimes great—recruiting classes, and he is poised to land one for the ages this year.
Let him make some changes and put him on a short leash. If that doesn't work, get the axe out in 2013.
But don't be surprised if the best move to replace him in 2012 is no move at all.