Who are your ideal candidates to replace Lane Kiffin and why?
USC is in desperate search of a coach that opposes Lane Kiffin's demeanor and sensibility on the sideline, and who can also relate to his players when things get tough and the winning goes array for a while. To that extent, bringing in the likes of NFL guys Jeff Fischer and Jack Del Rio would not be ideal and would only hamper player-coach interactions that are crucial towards rallying this program back to prominence. The only NFL coach that would fit extremely well in my opinion is Jon Gruden. The ESPN personality brings life, energy and plenty of outward passion to his craft and would massively destroy the competition in the recruiting trail. Imagine Jon Gruden walking into your house and selling you on yourself while wearing Cardinal and Gold.
Since that option seems less and less likely by the hour, switching back to the college ranks seem ideal. The two big names to watch for USC will be Chris Petersen and James Franklin. While each has a stable job and have performed way above expectations at their respective schools, the opportunity to come to Southern California and build a nationally-recognized dynasty could seal the deal. Not only can these guys make a transition, but their ability to work under harsh conditions whether its Franklin recruiting talent amidst a loaded SEC conference, or Petersen playing with a total number of five-star players that can be counted on one hand, these guys can coach ‘em up.
How much of an effect have sanctions played on the current state of the Trojans?
The 30-scholarship reduction on the USC Football Program affects performance by cracking down in two distinct ways. First and foremost limited numbers means players must be utilized more effectively and more often on the field, slightly hindering the specialization of scholarship roster spots for unique roles (PR, KR, DB etc.). Secondly and on that note, sometimes it appeared that under Lane Kiffin the crutch of scholarship reductions became the biggest hindrance for success of any in the program. Not to undermine the importance of losing players, but plenty of talented contributors still line the sideline. It's just up to the heads in charge to transform the mid-level players in good ones and create opportunities for his best to shine brightest on Saturday's. What does make the sanctions worrisome is once the injury bug comes flying around the team, then you can argue that players are seriously stretched beyond their means against top-notch competition. The major position where the change took most serious bruises was the offensive line, one in which even USC AD Pat Haden admitted was vastly under recruited. With limited numbers coming in each and every year (15 from 2012) the inability to lock in major size on the line has proven detrimental to USC's success.
What are the most encouraging signs from USC's play last week against Arizona State?
Despite all the negativity surrounding Lane Kiffin and his coaching decisions, the player's most recent performance shockingly enough probably had less to do with coaching then actual execution vs. ASU. Missed coverage in the middle of the field, poor communication in pass protection and dangerous mishaps leading to INT's all plagued the Trojans chances of pulling off the road upset. On the other side of the coin however, the combination of Justin Davis and Tre Madden (250 yards rushing) looked extremely promising in the backfield and despite the two INT's, Kessler did complete a fair share of his passes utilizing seven weapons on offense in the passing game. This offense continues to take strides from their debacle against Washignton State, and is starting to seriously develop into a quick-hitting passing attack that can rely on its rushing attack and play-action passing to slowly accumulate drives down the field.