There is no shortage of unknowns as USC begins Fall Camp this week. Offensive guard, tailback, fullback, strong side linebacker, strong safety, number two cornerback and nickel back are a few of the main questions that Lane Kiffin and his staff must try to answer correctly.
But the biggest question has nothing to do with the roster, but with Kiffin himself.
The NCAA imposed severe sanctions last year on the Trojan football program. USC appealed those sanctions earlier this year. The NCAA Appeals Committee refused to budge even one iota.
So, as Fall Camp opens with one year remaining on a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships looming over the next three years, now the other shoe is about to drop.
And drop it will, right on Kiffin’s noggin. The only question being how hard it will drop.
The NCAA Committee on Infractions is currently considering sanctions against Kiffin for a Failure to Monitor charge during his one-year tenure at Tennessee.
Kiffin was accompanied by Trojan Athletic Director Pat Haden back in June for his hearing before the COI. But neither Kiffin nor Haden have any idea of the severity of the penalties that the NCAA will impose on the Trojan head coach.
If Kiffin receives a fairly light penalty such as a one-game suspension and some limitation on making phone calls to recruits, he will most likely serve the punishment this season.
If the penalty is much more severe, such as a several-game suspension and stiffer recruiting penalties, Kiffin will no doubt appeal and await the outcome at the end of the season.
However, if Kiffin receives the dreaded ‘Show Cause’ sanction, he may have to kiss his dream job goodbye.
Since Haden’s predecessor, Mike Garrett, hired Kiffin, Haden has little compulsion to keep a severely handicapped head coach. Facing the loss of 30 scholarships over three years requires the entire staff to be fully functional.
In that case I would expect, as some others do as well, for Haden to let Kiffin go should Kiffin’s appeal of the ‘Show Cause’ sanction fail.