Originally written on Rumors and Rants  |  Last updated 11/2/12
Less than a week ago, I mused about whether USC head coach Lane Kiffin’s job was in trouble after their debacle at Arizona last Saturday. The loss was an ugly one that knocked the Trojans out of contention for anything but the Pac-12 title and maybe an at-large BCS berth if they don’t win the conference. I obviously wasn’t the only one speculating because USC Athletic Director Pat Haden decided it was necessary to publicly endorse Kiffin this week. Usually, this is the kiss of death for any embattled head coach. Based on that, one would expect the speculation about Kiffin’s job security to only get louder going forward. This is especially true if USC gets blown out by Oregon Saturday or if the mistakes that cost them the Arizona game also cost the Trojans a win against a top five opponent. But what also makes this unusual is the way Haden endorsed Kiffin. He endorsed the coach, saying he believes Kiffin is the right guy for the job and that he has a “big future” at USC. Pretty standard stuff from an athletic director regardless of whether this is really the preamble to driving him down Highway 101 and shooting him in the back of the head. Then Haden basically admits all of the flaws that caused the speculation: “Do we have to play better?” Haden asked. “Yes. Are we disappointed that we lost two games? Yes. But we’re in a situation this week where we’re playing the No. 2- or No. 3-ranked team in the country, and we can beat anybody that’s on our schedule. Let’s see how this season plays out here.” It’s the “let’s see how the season plays out” that’s going to cause the USC press to hound Kiffin the rest of the season should Oregon prevail on Saturday. It’s phrases like this that make the AD’s endorsement a kiss of death for head coaches. A team is struggling or at least not meeting expectations, so the athletic director has to speak up. But he wants to hedge his bets. Then things don’t improve, the coach is in trouble still, and the AD fires him. It’s a tale as old as time. Haden actually dropped a “wait and see” twice in his endorsement of Kiffin: “”I know people are jumping off and on the bandwagon here. My job is to provide a steady view and support our coaches, provide him with an environment that gives him every chance to be successful. We have that chance the next four weeks. Let’s see how it goes.” I doubt Haden expects USC to beat Oregon to save Kiffin’s job. The Trojans don’t exactly have a great recent track record against the Ducks. One thing to watch for, though, is whether the USC defense handles the Oregon offense well or not. If Lane Kiffin’s seat isn’t hot yet, his father’s, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, might be. However, Haden seems to be implying that things had better clean up and USC had better take down at least three of its remaining four opponents: Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA, and Notre Dame. Losses to Oregon and Notre Dame, both top five teams, are probably expected by most, but would be a bad sign for the program and for Kiffin in particular. USC has a shot at Notre Dame, though Oregon is a much tougher challenge. Kiffin might survive losses to both, but any other losses would make his seat much hotter than the lukewarm swimming pool temperature it is now.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Miguel Cabrera headed to disabled list for 1st time in career

Report: San Antonio Spurs to sign LaMarcus Aldridge

WATCH: Serena Williams wags finger at Wimbledon crowd, says, 'Don’t try me'

Report: Rajon Rondo headed to Sacramento Kings

Dez Bryant deal with Cowboys could be announced Monday

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Brandon Saad, Ryan O’Reilly sign long-term contracts with Columbus, Buffalo

Mavs solidify future, sign Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan

A-Rod, Yankees settle dispute over home run milestone bonus

Report: Robin Lopez, Knicks finalizing four-year deal

Becky Hammon will coach Spurs' Summer League team

Jimmy Butler on Derrick Rose: ‘I don’t think we have any issues’

Clay Buchholz not worried about trade rumors

All hope isn't completely lost for this year's Milwaukee Brewers

Report: Pacers, Lakers Discussing Roy Hibbert Trade

Watch: Pablo Sandoval falls over railing during catch

Report: Green Bay Packers’ player charged with firing a gun in Miami

Kawhi, LaMarcus, the mid-range and the Spurs' next epoch

Tennis: How can Rafael Nadal regain his dominance?

NBA Rumors: Cavs and Spurs vying for David West

Damian Lillard is the Blazers’ new franchise player

Bryce Harper flaunts patriotic bat, hits home run

Report: Magic will sign Tobias Harris to 4-year deal

The top American sports moments since the last Fourth of July

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Russell Wilson 'would definitely consider' playing for Mariners

Solo, Rapinoe among USWNT stars up for World Cup awards

LBS on Sports Jeopardy! Here's how how it went

College football's 35 most patriotic helmets

A brief history of non-star All-Stars

With Love retained, the Cavs can take care of LeBron

Grading the deal: Davis commits to Pelicans

Obama Administration: Change name if Redskins move to D.C.

Deciding what the All-Star Game means

Odell Beckham Jr. offered professional baseball contract

Orioles keep finding a way to win

Lloyd sends USWNT to World Cup final

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.