There has been a singular issue revolving around the USC Trojans football team in the offseason as they prepare for 2013:
"Should Lane Kiffin be fired?"
For many, that question is moot and they will vehemently argue that young Mr. Kiffin should have been shown the door long ago.
Others—perhaps those of the more pragmatic variety—are likely to counter that given the abundance of obstacles that he has had to surmount, Kiffin should be given one more chance to succeed.
What very few will argue, though, is that USC can afford to have another bad season this year if Kiffin desires a return in 2014.
But what will constitute a "bad year" for the Trojans in 2013?
How many games will USC win in 2013?
In a 13-game season, is eight wins acceptable? What about nine wins? Ten?
Of course, there are mitigating factors when one attempts to label a season as "successful."
Beyond wins, there are those who will argue it is not enough just to win—it's who you beat.
After all, padding the won-lost resume by beating a bunch of cupcakes—which USC has a few of in 2013—means little if you are getting blown out by legitimate teams.
Which brings us back to the question at hand: What should the over/under be for USC this year?
Given a reasonable schedule and the expectations that USC will improve in two areas that haunted them in 2012—turnovers and penalties—nine wins should be the benchmark for Trojan expectations in 2013.
Now, a 9-4 season for many fans of the men of Troy would constitute a failure for a legendary program such as USC, but this is not the Trojans of last decade when Pete Carroll sat atop the college football world.
Instead, Lane Kiffin inherited a bare cupboard talent-wise and a barrel full of sanctions heaped upon them by the hypocritical powers that be at the NCAA.
All of which must be considered when assigning any unrealistic expectations of those recently departed glory days of years gone by.
Oh, and one other thing.
Among those nine wins must be at least a couple of other legitimate teams such as Stanford, Notre Dame, UCLA and the Arizona teams.
It can be done and more importantly, it must be done for Lane Kiffin to hold on to his job.
So let's make nine wins the minimum goal for 2013 and he (and fans) can hope for 10 or more.
And while we're at it, how about a Pac-12 title?
Hell, Trojan fans would probably settle for the southern part of that title if nothing else—that's not too much to ask for is it?
For your sake, I hope not, Coach Kiffin.