USC Football: For Better or Worse, This Is Officially Kiffin's Team Now
With the completion of this year's NFL draft, USC in general—and Lane Kiffin specifically—have reached some very important milestones in the program.
Gone are the remaining vestiges of the Pete Carroll era, a glorious time for the most part where USC reveled in the glory of college football dominance.
That is because Carroll's final recruiting class has now entered the professional ranks and with their departure, USC now finds itself with the indelible stamp of their present head coach on the program.
Now Kiffin has only those players he recruited himself to either credit or blame for the Trojans' fortunes.
Of course, this is not to say the embattled head coach would blame anyone but himself for USC's woes, because he wouldn't.
Rather, this is for the legions of USC fans that pass their idle hours by finding any number of reasons to blame Kiffin for the decline of the Trojans.
For those fans, Kiffin is the end-all, be-all for this erosion of football excellence and the one argument they couldn't make—until now—was that he was doing this damage with only players that he himself recruited and signed.
That ends in 2013.
From this point forward, every player on USC's roster is there because he recruited that individual, and along with that distinction comes the reality that this team is his and his alone.
However, this doesn't mean that asterisks and explanations shouldn't accompany such a declaration.
While it is certainly true that Carroll's fingerprints are now completely gone from this team, the residue of his memory is not.
That is because the NCAA sanctions that eased Carroll's departure to the NFL remain and have severely impacted Kiffin as he attempts to right a reeling Trojan program.
With 30 scholarships removed from Kiffin's ability to maintain USC's lofty position on the college football landscape, it should be apparent, even to the most hardcore Kiffin haters, that he was left a tough hand by Carroll.
Nonetheless, Kiffin knew what he was likely getting into those same haters will argue, and perhaps they are right.
What can't be argued is that with or without caveats, this is Kiffin's team now, lock, stock and barrel.
Excuses aside, it will be up to him to return USC to prominence in college football.
And when (or if) he does, he can do it with the satisfaction of knowing he did it with his own players.
Boy, wouldn't that drive the haters crazy?
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