Lane Kiffin: USC Coach Should Return Next Season Despite Struggles

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  USC Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin looks on against the Colorado Buffaloes at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Although USC fell well below expectations this season, the team should not make a change at head coach.

According to Mike Hiserman of the Los Angeles Times, "USC's Lane Kiffin has told reporters at the Rose Bowl that he has been assured he would return as the Trojans' football coach."

While this might not please much of the fanbase, it is the best decision for the program.

There is no denying that this has been a disappointing year for the Trojans.

The school began the year ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll after a 10-win season a year ago. With potential NFL first-round picks Matt Barkley and Marqise Lee leading the offense, this would surely be one of the top contenders for a national championship.

Unfortunately, the team struggled with consistency on both sides of the football and it led to four losses heading into the final game of the season.

With Barkley out against No. 1 Notre Dame, according to Pedro Moura of ESPN, a fifth loss seems inevitable.

Even non-football people, like Dick Vitale, are pointing out the team's failures this season.

Lane Kiffin gets 1 last chance to make amends 4 a horrible year-who would ever predicted Trojans would have 5 L's ? ND will NOT BE DENIED!

— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) November 18, 2012

This would be an incredibly disappointing finish, but it is not enough to make a coaching switch.

For all of Kiffin's faults, he has a lot of very good qualities that will help him succeed with USC.

First, it is important to remember that he inherited a bad situation when he first came to the program.

The team was put on probation only months into his tenure, and he was able to keep the team together through a rough patch in the school's history. His ability to handle the adversity shows a great deal of character that he does not get credit for. 

In addition, he has always been an excellent recruiter. 

At Tennessee, he was able to secure a top-10 recruiting class in his first year, according to He continued this trend at USC, earning a top-10 class in each of the next three seasons.

Although it is still early, his 2013 class is projected to be the best in the country, with five players designated as 5-star prospects. 

You need great players to be successful in college football, and he brings the very best to Southern California.

Finally, he has never really had time to install his system with his team. While some of it is his fault, Kiffin has never been a head coach for more than three years at any level.

He is still extremely young for this type of job. He needs to be given a chance to learn from mistakes and improve in the future.

If USC gives him that chance, it can have a coach that will be with the team for the long term. There might be a few more disappointing seasons in the future, but in all likelihood, there will be many more good days than bad.

Kiffin is the right man for the job now, and he should remain in his current position heading into next season.