The finger pointing has begun, as it is not a good time to be Lane Kiffin right about now.
With the college football regular season over for USC, fans are in an uproar about whether the team should make a coaching change. That has yet to be determined, but we do know that his seat isn't getting any colder heading into the lonely offseason.
Kiffin has been the worst coach of the 2012 season for a lot of reasons, and that will lead to many long months of questioning heading into the 2013 football year.
All the Talent but No Results
No coach in the country had as much talent as Kiffin and failed so miserably.
It doesn't matter how many 5-star recruits are running on the football field at once. I don't care how fast the player is or how much upside he has when discussing the next level. If you aren't able to produce victories, all of that talent is useless.
Kiffin had arguably the most talented team in the entire country, which is the main reason the team was ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll during the preseason.
Matt Barkley was considered a sure-fire first-round NFL draft pick at the quarterback position, and he was expected to pick up every college football award along the way. Running back Silas Redd left Penn State to join another 1,000-yard rusher in Curtis McNeal to help create one of the best backfields in the conference. Ironically, the Nittany Lions actually finished with a better record than the Trojans did this season.
The offense also had two future NFL wide receivers in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, two guys who could contribute at the next level right at this very moment. Defensively, the secondary was loaded with playmakers such as T.J. McDonald and shutdown cornerback Nickell Robey. The linebacker corps was young, but talented and very athletic with Dion Bailey leading the way as a future star on this team.
But again, all of that talent means absolutely nothing.
Kiffin led this team to a 7-5 record, which is actually one less victory than when he first took over this program back in 2010. That team actually lost players due to the NCAA sanctions and didn't have nearly the same expectations that this year did.
USC lost the South division to the UCLA Bruins, forgot that defense was legal in the loss to Oregon and lost to a subpar team in Arizona. That doesn't include choking in the loss to Stanford earlier in the year and losing at home to Notre Dame, despite having multiple chances to pull off the upset.
The goals were made clear in the beginning of the season and fans expected nothing less than a Pac-12 title and at least a berth in the national championship game. The team didn't even come close to hitting the mark, which is why the Trojans have been the most disappointing team of the year and Kiffin has been the worst coach as well.
Distractions and Poor Play Calling
It is one thing to lose games and fall short of the goals set before the season kicked off. After all, not every team achieves at the highest level each season. There are going to be teams that underachieve at times, and unfortunately, it happened to be USC this season. Life goes on and the program will be just fine moving forward judging by the track record.
However, what has made this season worse of all are the distractions and horrible play calling that has gone with it.
Should Kiffin return next year?
Whether it was the jersey switch, deflated footballs or banning reporters from showing up to practice, Kiffin has done a terrific job of bringing more negative attention to this program. This is a trait that has followed him since his days with the Oakland Raiders and it really doesn't help the image of a program that is still on probation.
You also have the horrible play calling that hit an all-time low during last weekend’s game against Notre Dame. But even before that meltdown against the Irish, the play-calling and lack of improvement was blamed mostly on the head coach throughout the year.
Again, losing games and not reaching a certain level of success for one season is something most coaches will be able to get away with. But when that coach has turned into a walking sideshow and is making bizarre play calls week in and week out, it tends to raise questions if he is in fact the right man for the job.