Lane Kiffin is winning the recruiting battle as he maintains a tenuous relationship with AD Pat Haden, the boosters, and the fans. The USC incoming class, poised for top ranking and continued greatness, has suffered some small setbacks recently from intent decommissions from signees looking instead to Westwood to play ball to coaching realignments convincing players to follow suit. Regardless, the Trojans prepare for the potential departures of Robert Woods, Morgan Breslin, and Nickell Robey to the pros. As Kiffin glad hands families and compliments cooking, he fights for his job.
As the cream of the crop signed scholarships papers, financial aid agreements, and campus housing applications, announcing their allegiance to Tommy Trojan on Wednesday, Lane could breath a brief sigh of relief. Gatorade National Player of the Year QB Max Browne led a host of prep list leaders in a campaign to return the Trojans to their former glory.
Plus, Marqise Lee isn’t going anywhere yet.
Even though Haden anointed Kiffin with his support, his kind words come complete with the typical caveat of a winning tradition. If Kiffin secures a top recruiting class, then he will manage the demise of two birds with one hail mary for his job. A better team means a delay of his reservation for the coaching chopping block. With each win, every inch they move closer to a Pac-12 Championship, the Trojans return to the national title conversation in the regular season because the pre-season conversation no longer matters. The ease of limited expectations, the warm blanket of sanctions protecting USC from the pressure of completing their assumed destiny, and the comfort that playing for nothing more than a season is gone. The Trojans can no longer afford to wonder about what could have been. The shackles are off. It is time to win.
Will a win help? Will nothing less than a complete thrashing of Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl help Kiffin solidify his position as well as convince recruits on the fence about their prospects in Southern California that the choice is simple? Will one last celebration ease the tensions around the world of Troy and provide the necessary encouragement to drown out the bruised egos and groans of the faithful?
December 31st, roughly three hours past noon, will reveal the first part of the answer.