With 16 returning starters including quarterback Matt Barkley, a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate, it made perfect sense that USC would be considered a preseason No. 1 heading into 2012. The program was coming off a two-year NCAA-sanctioned bowl ban and the team was eager to prove that it deserved to be considered one of the country’s elite teams once again. Those expectations never materialized as USC struggled throughout the season to finish at a disappointing 7-6. Off-the-field issues coupled with the on-the-field failures make Lane Kiffin one of five coaches who is on the hot seat in 2013.
The Buzz: Kiffin was one of the hottest coaching names in college football in 2009 despite lacking a proven track record. He was young and he was brash – earning the contempt of some of his fellow coaches in the Southeastern Conference when he took over the job at Tennessee. He seemed the perfect fit for Los Angeles and USC after only one season in Knoxville. Since joining the Trojans though, it’s been a different story. Kiffin’s record over the past three seasons is a respectable 25-13, but last season’s late collapse – losing five of its six games including a disappointing appearance in the Sun Bowl, have many wondering if he’s the right man for the job. His off-the-field act has worn thin as well. He lied about voting his team No. 1 in the preseason polls and eventually gave up his vote in an act of contrition. He sparred with the media most of the season including banning a reporter from practice and was forced to answer questions about why a student-manager would deflate footballs during a game. Feeling the pressure, Kiffin made radical changes to his coaching staff including firing his father, Monte, who was the team’s defensive coordinator. USC athletic director Pat Haden has thrown his support behind Kiffin but adding a caveat that his young coach must show improvement on-and-off the field in 2013.
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