Saturday was not a good day for Lane Kiffin and the USC Trojans. Losing at home 10-7 to the Washington State Cougars with a big contigent of recruits in attendance, Kiffin’s squad was spiritless, directionless and inept on offense, managing just 14 first downs and 54 yards passing for the entire game against the Cougs, who were 3-9 last year, last in the PAC-12 North.
By halftime of the game there were chants of “Fire Kiffin!” in The Coliseum, and by the end of the game, the sentiment had grown to a consensus in the thinned out crowd. One Trojan player thumped his thigh pads and screamed, “I didn’t come here for this ______.”
Call an audible, quick: There isn’t a play on the sheet that can save Lane Kiffin from the blitz of criticism and accountability that will come his way if the Trojans continue their freefall. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Speculation in the L.A. papers and on sports talk radio centers around when Kiffin will be fired and whether he should last the season. SC hosts Boston College and Utah State before a road game against ASU on September 28th. A loss in Tempe might be the death knell for Teflon Lane.
The most damaging part for USC football in the long term is, they had several top recruiting prospects at the Cougar game, and they looked visibly uncomfortable with the ugly scene in a stadium that has witnessed so much glory and tradition. Top prospects like Adoree’ Jackson and John “Juju” Smith may be rethinking their interest in the Cardinal and Gold, and Oregon may be in a position to cherry-pick two or more of the four and five-star talents that typically sign with them.
It only takes one bad recruiting class to set a school back for three to four seasons, and SC, already weakened by the 2010-12 sanctions, can’t afford much more of Kiffin’s leadership. His mishandling of the Trojan’s quarterback competition is a chief reason the offense is in such disarray, and having assigned himself responsibility for the team’s play-calling, he’s to blame for their predictablilty, excessive caution and overall ineptness.
Kiffin abandoned USC’s identity. No one fears Troy anymore, and they don”t have the explosive, intimidating running attack they had for so many years, despite a series of 5-star running back prospects and a blue-chip, mammoth offensive line.