"Kiffin don't know."
The ongoing soap opera that is USC football under head coach Lane Kiffin can currently be summed up in three little words, which star wide receiver Marqise Lee uttered per Scott Wolf of The Los Angeles Daily News.
Lee confirmed a rumored USC players only meeting did in fact occur, despite Kiffin's statement to the contrary.
Linebacker Devon Kennard, a leader on a Trojan defense that has been lights out thus far into 2013, joined Lee and linebacker Hayes Pullard in addressing their teammates in said meeting, which may or may not have happened.
Kennard tweeted it didn't happen.
If there was a "players only" meeting I wasn't there... Every coach and player we have is focused on one goal and that's winning this week!— Devon Kennard (@DevonKennard42) September 11, 2013
Then followed up that it did, but wasn't formal.
A couple of guys got together and talked about how we need to bounce back and move forward from last weeks loss, was not the whole team and— Devon Kennard (@DevonKennard42) September 11, 2013
It was not a formal meeting.. Everyone is on the same page and focused on Saturday.— Devon Kennard (@DevonKennard42) September 11, 2013
Lee too has since softened his tone, via Twitter.
Whatever occurred, can anyone blame athletic director Pat Haden if he's holding his own private meeting to put Kiffin under double-secret probation?
Why a players only meeting would elicit such damage control in response is baffling, though par for the course in a program steeped in turmoil.
Players only meetings happen with regularity, across all team sports. This quasi, semi, maybe meeting is not a fire that needs putting out, yet the bells in Heritage Hall are ringing as if it's a five-alarm inferno.
Among the things "Kiffin don't know" is PR, apparently.
The manner in which USC's season is publicly unraveling lends credence to Kiffin's secretive nature a season ago. Yet even then, the Trojan coach was generating headlines for various absurdities.
There was the temporary banishment of longtime Trojan beat writer Wolf for reporting an injury, a 29-second press conference and the firing of a student-manager for under-inflating balls. Such silliness only exacerbated the hand-wringing prompted in a disappointing 7-6 finish.
In a similar vein, Kiffin said after naming Cody Kessler USC's starting quarterback Monday he would not divulge specifics behind his decision, as Gary Klein of The Los Angeles Times notes, citing the lingering "negativity...outside" the program.
Yet, Lee and others taking on a leadership role is met with a confounding response that only furthers the negative narrative.
Redirecting the season as it veers off-course looks increasingly difficult. Who is going to be able to step up for USC? Right now, Lee's words seem fitting of a different context: "Kiffin don't know."
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Follow Kyle on Twitter @kensing45.