Lane Kiffin had a rough year in 2012, and on Friday afternoon at Sony Studios in California he told the media it affected his program, per Joe Schad of ESPN.
This is a side that many aren't used to seeing with the USC head coach
He wasn't going to give the media any wild answers that would cause the reporters to go into a rabid frenzy on their laptops. Instead, Kiffin carefully chose his words and actually went as far as to own up to some of his mistakes.
Still, its quite obvious that recruiting took a hit, as USC began the season ranked No. 1 in the AP Poll but finished with a 7-6 record. There were also numerous off-the-field issues that sullied the program's reputation. Everything combined made last season's disappointment even more pronounced.
However, it is a positive sign for USC fans that Kiffin is taking a lot of the blame and realizing that his actions on and off the field can hurt the future of his program.
The head coach must be the leader and set an example. Storming off during an interview or getting caught in a ball deflation scandal isn't exactly setting the right tone. These actions also had some calling for his job. (USC athletic director Pat Haden has said Kiffin's job security is safe.)
This hurt recruiting in a huge way last season.
Big name recruits were shying away from Sunny Southern California, as 4-star safety Max Redfield, 4-star wide receiver Eldridge Massington and 4-star defensive end Kylie Fitts all committed to USC at one point but signed on the dotted line elsewhere.
Defensive back Jalen Ramsey (4-star) also decommitted only hours before being able to sign his national letter of intent. Sebastian LaRue (4-star) also switched his commitment, via his Twitter account.
Kiffin is widely considered one of the top recruiters in the country, but last season's failures were simply too much to overcome. USC still finished with a Top 25 class and the second best class in the Pac-12, according to 247Sports, however, the amount of elite players could have been far greater.
Maybe, just maybe, this is a step in the right direction for Kiffin and USC.
Note: All recruits rankings are courtesy of 247Sports.com.
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