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USC Football: Do NFL Draft Results Give Kiffin a Partial Pass for 2012?

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 20:  USC Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin looks on against the Colorado Buffaloes at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 20, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Rick McMahanSenior Writer IApril 28, 2013

Well, the three-ring circus known as the NFL draft is over and for USC fans—and the players themselves— the results were disappointing.

Flying in the face of recent drafts, there were no Trojans selected in the first round of the pro selections and it took until the ninth pick of the second round for flanker Robert Woods to hear his name called as the first USC player tabbed in 2013.

Eventually, safety T.J. McDonald would follow in the third round and both quarterback Matt Barkley and center Khaled Holmes would do the same in the fourth round but that would be it for USC players hoping to hear their names called.

Certainly not a typical year for the college program that has produced more first-round draft choices than any other institution in the nation.

Nonetheless, this is where it stands for USC in this year's draft—four players taken.

This brings up an interesting question when it comes to their beleaguered head coach, Lane Kiffin: Is it possible that USC's problems in 2012, which manifested a disappointing 7-6 record, is not a reflection of Kiffin's ineptitude coaching but rather a dearth of talent on last year's roster?

Kiffin, who has managed to polarize the USC fan base like few coaches before, has been a never ending target for the minions of haters who despise everything about him.

Those same fans have blamed him for everything from poor game-planning to plotting to purposely make the Trojans late to last year's Sun Bowl dinner—and everything in between.

To some extent, the criticism has been valid, as Kiffin has often been his own worst enemy.

Stubborn to a fault and guilty of micro-managing to the detriment of the overall program, Kiffin deserves some of the slings and arrows cast his way.

But if the draft is any barometer, perhaps the 2012 version of the men of Troy simply wasn't all that good.

Is it possible that injuries along with an overrated roster had more to do with last year's disappointment that any perceived shortcomings by USC's head coach?

To be certain, the haters won't give him a pass regardless of the facts presented, but is this really fair?

Obviously, those who are paid to know these things didn't hold USC's class of graduating players in very high regard, and that is reflected in one of the poorest showings for the cardinal and gold in recent draft history.

The bottom line is that Kiffin does need to be held accountable for the direction the program is going.

But to blame him for everything that went wrong in 2012 is to simply ignore the possibility that USC just wasn't good enough to contend for the national championship, despite the glowing reviews prior to the start of the season.

And for a head coach who has been the target of a ridiculously venomous fan base, maybe it isn't  entirely his fault after all.

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