Mailbag: Lane Kiffin's job security; Purdue's next move and what if for Oregon?

Here is this week’s mailbag. As always send your questions to me via Twitter to @BFeldmanCBS:


From @ChaseDMC: Lane Kiffin's job in jeopardy? What would it take for him to lose/save his job this year if so?


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 has only 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 nine-point underdog in South Bend and he outcoached Brian Kelly, and they beat the Irish by two TDs. Then, a few weeks later, as a 15-point underdog, the Trojans 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 offseason stories about how Lane Kiffin had supposedly matured feel so duped.


This all seems so beneath Pat Haden, the program’s athletic director. 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 in a different direction. Win all three and then lose again to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game, and I suspect Kiffin returns. 

From @nickrolando16: If C.Kelly ever did leave Oregon, who would be some early candidates to replace him? My $ would be on Chris Petersen.


I would agree with you about Petersen. I’ve heard from a source that the one college job he would be tempted to take would be Oregon. If not Petersen, I think there’d be a lot of push for Oregon to promote OC Mark Helfrich, who is very well respected inside the program because he would have the best shot of keeping things similar to what Kelly is doing.


From @EvanRoberts23: Does Purdue fire Danny Hope and if so who do they hire?


Yes, I expect Purdue to fire Danny Hope in the next month or so. I’ve heard from a source that the school is preparing to find its next coach. The issue is the school isn’t going to pay all that much comparatively to the rest of the Big Ten. My hunch is they’d pursue Dave Doeren, who has had two strong seasons at NIU and was a well-respected former top lieutenant at Wisconsin.


From @bell2nattiel: Jimbo Fischer to Auburn possible?


I seriously doubt it. I wouldn’t think Fisher would leave FSU, especially with the way the Noles are recruiting and are positioned to dominate the ACC to go work in the same state as his mentor Nick Saban when the Tide is going full blast.


From @DMCbroadcasting: Will Jon Embree return as Colorado coach next season?


I’ve heard there is some support at CU for Embree, a former Buffs player, to get a third season. My hunch is they do not fire him after just two seasons.


From @maranges: Should The U self impose another bowl ban? Or is the chance to play for an ACC championship too important for player morale?


It’s a tough balance because you have such a young team and you want them playing for something and you want them to feel rewarded, but given the cloud of the heavy NCAA investigation, I feel like UM, as soon as it gets to six wins, should self-sanction another post-season. I get that it puts the ACC in an awkward spot if UM is forfeiting a potential spot in the conference title game, but in the long run, it’d benefit everyone there. 

Moving forward, I wouldn’t think the NCAA would sanction more than one more bowl ban (making it three postseason bans) when it eventually weighs in on the Nevin Shapiro scandal. (Keep in mind, the NCAA also already came down on many players involved last year with game suspensions.) I am sure Ohio State regrets that it didn’t self-sanction its postseason last year. Miami has a ton of young talent. Almost every good player in the program is a sophomore or freshmen. This team could be very formidable come 2014.


From @hamlet423: Will Denard Robinson play in the NFL, and at what position?


I’ll say he’ll be a slot receiver and return man who also might get some action as a change-up QB. For as great as he was for Michigan, I do not see Robinson being a full-time NFL quarterback. He just hasn't shown he can be a consistently accurate passer for that at the pro level.

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