Is USC Coach Lane Kiffin seat getting hot?

I believe it is. This has been a dreadful two months for Kiffin filled with embarrassing gaffes and disappointing performances against just about every decent team the Trojans have faced in 2012. It’s basically mid-November and USC, the preseason No. 1 team, still only has one win over a team with a winning record (Washington). Overall, USC is 1-3 against teams with winning records. In a word, I’d say the Trojans play has been sloppy. They have been plagued by penalties and turnovers and poor clock management. But if it were only this: a 6-3 record still with games against the program’s two arch-rivals—UCLA and Notre Dame—ahead, I’d say things still would seem very manageable especially given the fact that Kiffin did an excellent job leading the Trojans through some of the NCAA sanctions while stockpiling a lot of terrific young talent in the program, and there is reportedly a bunch more coming. Remember, USC has what is shaping up to be the consensus No. 1 ranked recruiting class.

But, it’s all of the other stuff that has been attached to USC this fall, much of it seeming so petty, that has made the program into something of a national punchline. That’s what is really fueling this.

There’s just been a ridiculous amount of well, ridiculous stuff that has led to a constant stream of odd USC news this fall. Some of it is definitely Kiffin’s fault. Some of it would likely fall into a gray area or no one would even care about it if it were just about any other coach. (Who knows exactly what’s behind this whole deflated balls story?) But that’s just it with Lane Kiffin these days. He lost the benefit of the doubt a long time again, and whatever credibility he built back up last season has been stripped away.

It is all so bizarre. Last year, he led USC to a 10-2 season where among other things, the Trojans were a 9-point underdog in South Bend and he out-coached Brian Kelly and they beat the Irish by two TDs. Then, a few weeks the Trojans, a 15-point underdog, snapped Oregon’s 21-game home winning streak. Those were big wins for Kiffin with people around the USC program. But now that’s all a distant memory and all those people who wrote their off-season stories about how Lane Kiffin had supposedly matured feel so duped.

This all seems so beneath Pat Haden, the program’s A.D. who is widely regarded as a decent, sincere man. Haden and the USC brass aren’t the knee-jerk, panic types that you see mucking up college programs at some other parts of the country. Point being if you’ve frustrated Pat Haden, you’ve really done something.

How much does all of this Twitter fodder actually impact Kiffin’s team on the field? Hard to say. I know this: it certainly doesn’t help. It sure looks like this team is tight.

Players are smart. They’re aware of what’s going on. Heck, USC is more proactive in promoting its’ players Twitter accounts than any other program in the country.

If the Trojans lose two of their next three games, I could see the USC brass going into a different direction. Win all three and then lose again to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game and I suspect Kiffin returns.