The USC Trojans prepare to do battle with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Will head coach Lane Kiffin survive? Can Max Wittek replace Matt Barkley?
Pat Haden said Lane Kiffin is coming back. What are your thoughts on that decision?
Trevor Wong, Conquest Chronicles - I'm a little surprised Pat Haden acknowledged Lane Kiffin would be back next year right after the game, but regarding the decision, I don't necessarily agree with it. Something needs to change at the top, whether that be letting go of his dad, Monte Kiffin, or relieving Lane of his duties. Clearly, the team has underachieved all season long, and I didn't really see any type of progression or development on either side of the ball. All of that falls on the coaches.
DC Trojan, Conquest Chronicles - I don't think that Haden could say anything else in the immediate aftermath of the game without looking like he was over-reacting and / or abandoning the positive things he's said about Kiffin. Before this weekend, I'd have been okay with keeping Kiffin and making changes around him. Now, there's just that hint of doubt that he can evolve into what I think he needs to be - more inspirational, less of a technician with players, for the most part - in order to weather 2 more seasons of reduced scholarships and a lot of improvement in the conference.
Michael Castillo, Reign Of Troy: Haden's hands are tied. Kiffin has to go, he's just not the guy for the job. But, with recruiting limitations, the Trojans can't afford to start losing an arms race with UCLA, Oregon and Arizona. They have to recruit at the best level possible, and right now that only happens with both Kiffin and Ed Orgeron on staff at the same time. Haden needs to duct tape the situation and force Kiffin to bring in two new coordinators and hope for the best in 2013, especially since the schedule couldn't be more advantageous: no Oregon; UCLA, Arizona and Stanford all come to the Coliseum.
How will you remember the Matt Barkley era? What do you think about Max Wittek's chances against Notre Dame?
DC Trojan, Conquest Chronicles - With some fondness. I'm pretty cynical about college football, but I don't get the impression that Matt Barkley is. He took on being an adult face to the program when the coaching and athletic department were flailing around, and his reward for jumping in with both feet to the publicity campaign surrounding a senior year he didn't really need to play... well, damage to his reputation as a player, being a figure of mockery, and finishing out the season from a clean but hard hit that his line never saw coming, before the season was up. I appreciate that Barkley did that because he believed in the school and in leading by example, and that he never took the smoother path of just leaving when he had the chance(s).
As for Wittek, I don't know. Word is that he might be a better quarterback in terms of mechanics, but he's still shiny and new, and it's hard to imagine that Notre Dame is going to change their likely plans of applying pressure to force mistakes. Given that, and their defensive front against our porous offensive line, it could get ugly fast.
Michael Castillo, Reign Of Troy: Barkley's era will probably end up being glorified for his loyalty, but it should still be remembered for what could have been, much like John David Booty's tenure. He's the most prolific high-profile quarterback the west coast has ever had and yet he'll go down as finishing his career with two low rung bowls. Even with sanctions, that's not exactly historic. He's only won one close game in the fourth quarter and that was his second career start, on the backs of Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson. Expectations were high, but in the end the results just weren't there. As for Wittek, he has a great chance since Marqise Lee and Robert Woods will be available to catch his balls. Yes, Notre Dame is a tough defense and he'll be under pressure all night, but he's got the arm to lead his speedy receivers on deep routes and don't be surprised if a few break away passes give the Trojans momentum.