For fans of the USC Trojans, 2013 has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster as the men of Troy struggle to stay above .500.
A steady diet of errant passes from first-year quarterback Cody Kessler have been accentuated by drops from his receivers on the occasion when he is on target, and when things finally go right in that portion of the offense, those gains are often wiped out by untimely penalties.
Then there is the defense that looked so good early on only to leak like a sieve against Arizona State, which resulted in a historic loss. That was followed up by another poor performance against Arizona, giving an already nervous fanbase cause for worry.
Add in missed field goals, turnovers, a woeful offensive line and generally inept play, and it is little wonder why USC is sporting a disappointing 4-3 record seven games into the season.
All of which manifested a driving desire by those who follow USC for a dramatic change, and in turn, that spurred athletic director Pat Haden to fire his head coach, Lane Kiffin.
Now Kiffin is gone and—surprise!—the mediocrity remains.
However, that hasn't stopped some fans from continuing to blame their former head coach Kiffin for USC's woes.
In fact, for some of these bitter followers of the Cardinal and Gold, their anger at Kiffin seems to have only grown in his absence.
But is that really fair? Should this much venom be directed at Kiffin?
To be fair, Kiffin was a difficult coach to embrace.
Possessed of a prickly personality, smug at times and always distant, Kiffin never offered a persona that made one go out of their way to root for.
And then there was the myriad of gaffes that seemed to follow him wherever he went; some of which were his fault, and others that were not.
Switching players' jersey numbers, not offering injury reports, closing practices and sometimes sticking his foot in his mouth. These were all reasons for people to dislike Kiffin.
But enough is enough now.
USC's 14-10 loss to Notre Dame last Saturday should have served notice that this team has problems far beyond the nuanced issues of their now departed former head coach.
In fact, those same issues that caused Kiffin to lose his job reared their ugly heads once again against the Irish.
Except this time, 'ol Lane was nowhere in sight.
Of course, that won't stop the haters from casting aspersion on Kiffin, and they will say that the bungling offense, abundant penalties and shanked field goals were due to his poor coaching.
Naturally, this is silly, but that won't end the finger pointing.
Instead, people should try to understand the hand this guy was dealt.
Following the huge personality of Pete Carroll, Kiffin was left with a program that had to deal with the impending hatchet of the NCAA that finally came down and resulted in historic sanctions against the program.
Operating with a depleted roster and the absence of scholarships to replenish it, Kiffin struggled through tough times to be sure, but none of those NCAA penalties were his fault.
Having said that, it was probably time for him to go, and few, including myself, would argue that he should have been given more time.
Still, it seems unfair to blame Kiffin beyond the disappointment of 2013 and as time goes by, he should still be looked at as the coach who guided USC through some of the darkest times the team has ever experienced—a journey that was both good and bad.
And it is for that reason that I will certainly root for Lane Kiffin again—as long as his new team isn't playing the Trojans of course.