The dominoes continue to fall in disconcerting fashion for USC head coach Lane Kiffin. His tenure is now in its fourth season, and mediocre results on the field have translated to a troubling trend on the recruiting trail.
Days after learning 4-star defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif.) decommitted from his verbal pact with the Trojans, another high-profile California recruit is lobbing insults at the current USC regime.
Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif.), listed as the nation's 24th-best running back in the 247Sports composite rankings, took to Twitter for a brief tirade aimed at Kiffin. The initial tweet, which has since been deleted, was captured by CollegeSpun.com:
He followed that statement with a tweet that seems to suggest there is a general sentiment of displeasure toward the Southern Cal coach (also since deleted):
@TomVH I felt like it needed to be said . Everybody is scared to say it so imma say it.— Demario Richard (@TheFaceOfCali) September 11, 2013
Richard, a 5'10", 200-pound prospect with offers from Oregon, Arizona, UCLA, California, Washington, West Virginia and Nebraska, among others, as per ESPN, was then asked about his lack of an offer from USC. He retorted by saying it was all his doing (since deleted):
@Soupster6 imma tell like I just too the other guy I TURNED DOWN THE USC OFFER BECAUSE OF KIFFIN AND THEY WAY I WAS DISRESPECTED AT JR. DAY— Demario Richard (@TheFaceOfCali) September 11, 2013
While Richard's social media outburst at his hometown team will be construed by some as "sour grapes," it's indicative of the current cloud hovering around the Trojans football program. Despite a rich history with nationwide clout, the Trojans are struggling to land elite prospects during this cycle.
USC currently has the 61st-ranked 2014 recruiting class in the country, according to 247Sports. The Trojans now hold seven solid commits in the class, although mounting rumors of a coaching change—as per USA Today—could threaten the stability of those commitments.
Kiffin, who left his previous two head coaching posts with the Tennessee Volunteers and Oakland Raiders under a shroud of controversy, is just 26-14 since accepting the head job at USC. The Trojans suffered an embarrassing 10-7 loss to Washington State on Saturday at the L.A. Coliseum, where fans voiced their displeasure with a barrage of boos.
How should USC handle its football program?
Aside from recruiting concerns, there seems to be a disconnect within his own locker room.
Star wide receiver Marquise Lee contradicted Kiffin on Tuesday when he told Los Angeles Times reporter Scott Wolf there was a players-only meeting Sunday. As per a Yahoo report, Lee and other players are now backing off that statement in another bizarre set of circumstances that is fittingly being played out in Hollywood.