Well, the letters of intent have been faxed and after the dust settled, USC's 2013 recruiting class was a mixed bag of bad and good.
Specifically, the "good" was "great" for the Trojans, as they managed to bring in a class that is short on numbers but long on quality with such studs as quarterback Max Browne, safety Su'a Cravens, defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow and running back Ty Isaac leading the way.
USC lost a ton of needed players as national signing day drew near when defensive ends Kylie Fitts, Torrodney Prevot and Jason Hatcher, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes—at one time, all USC verbal pledges—decided to take their talents elsewhere.
When all is said and done, USC brought in 12 players (late qualifier wide receiver Darreus Rogers counts against the 2013 number as well) in a class that was expected to draw 18 at one time.
And make no mistake about it, the lack of bodies will hurt USC depth-wise in 2013.
So what happened? Why did the Trojans sputter to the finish this year?
Of course, there are many reasons why USC faltered at the end, and the Trojans on-field performance in 2012 was likely the key factor.
Stumbling to a 7-6 record after being tabbed a preseason favorite to raise the crystal ball last year, USC's prestige certainly took a hit in the eyes of those players who gave the Trojans a verbal nod this year.
And of course, this led to some coaching turnover as defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and secondary coach Marvin Sanders were shown the door while linebackers coach Scottie Hazelton left to pursue other opportunities—all of which lent to an aura of uncertainty that surrounded the program in general and the coaching staff in particular.
But that wasn't all that contributed to the negativity that targeted the football program, and it is this portion of the slings and arrows that is the focus of this article.
Because in addition to the hurdles outlined above that the program faced this year, there was another reason, and it was pervasive and unrelenting.
The constant speculation regarding Lane Kiffin's job status was borderline oppressive and only increased as the off season progressed.
It began with some paid pundits questioning Kiffin's coaching abilities, and those thoughts were echoed by many Trojan fans who took to the message boards to sound their displeasure with the head coach's job performance in 2012.
To read their comments was simply brutal. From questioning Kiffin's coaching acumen to speculating about his morals and ethnic heritage, the only thing he wasn't blamed for was Iran's effort to go nuclear.
As a writer on this site, I personally fielded about a thousand comments that were enveloped in negativity about Kiffin.
And if you don't think that recruits read these comments and wonder about how long their prospective head coach will last, think again.
Believe me, they do and when it came to making a decision, it played a part in their decision to go elsewhere.
So for some Trojan fans—and you know who you are—when it comes to looking for reasons (at least to some extent) why USC finished poorly this recruiting season, I have a suggestion where you can look.
Try the mirror.
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