Lane Kiffin has put off Judgement Day

It is true that USC’s Lane Kiffin has had two great recruiting classes at USC, but that was because he signed 25 players both in 2010 and 2011. He delayed “Judgement Day” by getting permission to avoid the 15 scholarship limits (imposed for 3 years) while the school appealed the NCAA’s decision.

Therefore, all these articles that are claiming that Kiffin has beat the odds don’t know what they are talking about. For instance, if he had taken his medicine earlier then next year he would have been back with the ability to sign 25 again. Instead, he will only be able to sign 15 in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Also he is in trouble this year because he is 5 above the total 75 limit that he carry on the team. Obviously he has been mum on who he will kick off.

Despite NCAA sanctions, Lane Kiffin is on the verge of landing his second straight top five recruiting class at USC.
Despite NCAA sanctions, Lane Kiffin is on the verge of landing his second straight top five recruiting class at USC.

Below is an article that is being circulated about Kiffin:

Lane Kiffin still remembers reading the premature obituaries for USC‘s football dynasty that accompanied the arrival of probation in the summer of 2010.

“Eighteen months ago, you couldn’t find a positive article about the future of USC’s program,” said Kiffin, who took over USC’s program at that time. “Eighteen months ago, when [the sanctions] happened, everybody talked about it being the death penalty. USC was over.”

NCAA sanctions have caused Lane Kiffin to be more selective in recruiting.

Nobody’s saying that anymore.

USC, banned from bowl games the past two seasons, has overcome NCAA sanctions to regain its status as one of the nation’s most feared college football programs.

USC closed the 2011 season ranked sixth nationally by The Associated Press, and the return of star quarterback Matt Barkley should catapult the Trojans into the top five of the 2012 preseason rankings.

This winter was supposed to be the first year recruiting sanctions hurt the school; it is limited to just 15 scholarships – or 10 fewer than the NCAA’s limit – the next three recruiting cycles.

But one week before National Signing Day, USC has one of the strongest classes in the country and remains very much in the mix with many of the nation’s top uncommitted recruits.

It has commitments from four Rivals100 prospects – including five-star offensive lineman Jordan Simmons. It is in contention for about a dozen others, including five-star offensive lineman Zach Banner.

And just last weekend, four-star quarterback Cyler Miles, the No. 2 dual-threat prospect who committed to Washington in June, said he is now considering changing his commitment to USC.

[ More on the Trojans: ]

“It’s business as usual at USC except they are having this success despite having to be much more careful with their offers and who they can take commitments from,” said Mike Farrell, a national recruiting analyst for “A great season on the field certainly helped, but Lane Kiffin and his staff are keeping the brand name of USC strong.”

Here’s a look at USC’s 2012 commitments, including four early enrollees who technically are counted as part of the 2011 recruiting class.
Name Pos. School Rating
Gerald Bowman* S L.A. Pierce College Four-star
Morgan Breslin* DE Diablo Valley (Calif.) Four-star
Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick TE Rocklin (Calif.) Whitney Four-star
Jahleel Pinner FB Mission Viejo (Calif.) Three-star
Darreus Rogers WR Carson (Calif.) Four-star
Jabari Ruffin LB Downey (Calif.) Four-star
Kevon Seymour CB Pasadena (Calif.) Muir Four-star
Jordan Simmons OG Encino (Calif.) Crespi Five-star
Scott Starr* LB Norco (Calif.) Four-star
Max Tuerk OT Santa Margarita (Calif.) Four-star
Pio Vatuvei DE Patterson (Calif.) Four-star
Chad Wheeler* DE/OT Santa Monica (Calif.) Three-star
* – Bowman, Breslin, Starr and Wheeler have enrolled early at USC.
Here’s a look at players who have transferred from USC since the start of the 2011 season.
Name Pos. School Rating
Dillon Baxter RB San Diego State Five-star
T.J. Bryant DB TBA Four-star
Brice Butler WR San Diego State Four-star
Amir Carlisle RB Notre Dame Four-star
Patrick Hall DB TBA Five-star
Kyle Prater WR TBA Five-star

Whether USC truly is going to not just survive but thrive during this loss of scholarships period will depend on the talent evaluation skills of Kiffin’s staff – and some fun with numbers.

USC already has eight verbal commitments for 2012, not counting the four early enrollees who are considered part of the 2011 class. Kiffin has said he wants to sign a full class of 15 recruits.

Here’s where the math gets tricky.

As it stands now, a full 15-man recruiting class would give USC roughly 80 scholarship players. USC, as part of its probation, cannot have more than 75 scholarship players.

How will they get to that number? Kiffin isn’t saying.

“We’ve had a stance here on numbers going back to a year-and-a-half ago when this happened, that we don’t discuss really how we’re managing the situation here with numbers and stuff for competitive reasons,” Kiffin said.

Those numbers could naturally go down if a few more players decide to leave. USC’s scholarship numbers already have decreased since the start of the 2011 season with the transfers of running back Dillon Baxter, defensive back T.J. Bryant, wide receiver Brice Butler, running back Amir Carlisle, defensive back Patrick Hall and wide receiver Kyle Prater.

Perhaps more players will depart before the start of preseason camp. Off-field issues potentially could result in more defections. It’s also worth noting that any school’s scholarship offer to a potential student-athlete merely represents a one-year agreement and not a four-year guarantee.

The uncertainty has caused recruits to hear plenty of different stories about USC’s pending numbers crunch. How much negative recruiting has gone on is subject for debate.

Jabari Ruffin, a four-star linebacker from Downey (Calif.) High who committed to USC last March, said other schools didn’t discuss USC’s sanctions with him.

“That was never brought up, especially with the season [USC] just had,” said Ruffin, the No. 40 prospect in the nation. “I was surprised, though. In a job like that, when you’re recruiting somebody to a school, you might say anything. But nobody went there.”

Although Ruffin apparently didn’t hear anyone badmouth USC in those terms, Kiffin indicated other recruits received plenty of false or misleading statements.

“A lot of stuff gets thrown out there to these kids from other places that’s inaccurate on what exactly is happening over the next few years, how many guys we can sign and what our numbers really are,” Kiffin said. “We actually have to do a lot of correcting inaccurate information. We get all kinds of things. That if you get injured, with the reduced numbers, they’re going to cut you. That they’re only going to be able to sign six guys [in a given year]. We deal with a whole bunch of stuff.”

USC was 17th in the Rivals team recruiting rankings as of Monday morning because of its small class size, but its commitments had the highest average star rating of any school in the country. Here’s a look at the 10 teams with the highest average star rating as of Monday.
Team Avg. Rating
USC 3.92
Florida State 3.81
Florida 3.74
Ohio State 3.74
Alabama 3.67
Texas 3.67
Auburn 3.6
Oklahoma 3.58
Michigan 3.57
Notre Dame 3.53

Those concerns haven’t stopped USC from landing plenty of quality talent.

Ten of USC’s 12 commitments for 2012 (including early enrollees) are four- or five-star prospects. Even in the midst of probation, the USC name means plenty to blue-chip prospects.

“It’s freaking USC,” Pleasant Hill (Calif.) Diablo Valley College defensive end Morgan Breslin told last month after switching his commitment from UCLA. “I was just in shock that they were recruiting me. … To be honest, I don’t even know how to explain how excited I was to have a chance to go there.”

USC’s class currently is made up entirely of California players, a notable change from the more national recruiting approach used by former coach Pete Carroll. Kiffin has made a point of pursuing in-state prospects, but he also hopes the Trojans’ recent success on the field will make a difference with top out-of-state recruits.

“The great stats that Matt had and the two receivers [Robert Woods and Marqise Lee] had, it was like the old days,” Kiffin said. “Obviously that helps when you talk about national recruiting. That’s been the hardest thing the last few years – the national recruiting. Because of the bowl ban and dealing with the sanctions, it makes it a lot harder for a kid to leave home, when he has great options right there, to come out here. I know that this season has helped for the future of our national recruiting.”

But the scholarship reductions prevent USC from signing every notable recruit who wants to play for the Trojans. Kiffin’s staff must decide which of them represent the best fits for his program.

“I think their goal for the next three years is to get 15 – and to get 15 quality kids,” Farrell said. “That’s why you’re seeing a lot less offers out there. They used to blanket the country with offers. Now they’re not doing that. They’re being very picky. Getting to 15 is easy. It’s about getting to 15 with the right guys.”

USC already has verbal commitments from four Rivals100 recruits – OG Jordan Simmons (No. 29), LB Jabari Ruffin (No. 40), OT Max Tuerk (No. 46) and CB Kevon Seymour (No. 82) – and remains in the mix for many other blue-chip prospects. Here’s a look at other Rivals100 prospects considering the Trojans.
Name Pos. School Rank
Stefon Diggs WR Olney (Md.) Good Counsel 8
Also considering: Auburn, California, Florida, Maryland, Ohio State
Zach Banner OT Lakewood (Wash.) Lakes 16
Also considering: Oklahoma, Washington
Nelson Agholor WR Tampa Berkeley Prep 18
Also considering: Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma
Kyle Murphy OT San Clemente (Calif.) 19
Also considering: Florida, Oregon, Stanford
Ellis McCarthy DT Monrovia (Calif.) 21
Note: McCarthy is committed to UCLA, but USC is still pursuing him.
Aziz Shittu DE Atwater (Calif.) Buhach 27
Also considering: California, Stanford, UCLA
Andrus Peat OT Tempe (Ariz.) Corona Del Sol 32
Also considering: Florida State, Nebraska, Stanford
Cyler Miles QB Denver Mullen 35
Note: Miles is committed to Washington, but he visited USC last weekend.
Leonard Williams DE Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland 53
Also considering: Auburn, Florida, Florida State
Arik Armstead DE Elk Grove (Calif.) Pleasant Grove 61
Also considering: Auburn, Washington, Notre Dame, Alabama, Oregon.
D.J. Foster ATH Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro 71
Also considering: Arizona State, California
Bryce Treggs WR Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco 81Note: Treggs is committed to California, but he plans to visit USC this week.Tyriq McCordDETampa Jefferson92Note: McCord is committed to Miami, but he plans to visit USC this weekend.

It’s the same challenge that other probation-ridden programs also faced while dealing with scholarship losses.

“You have no room for error,” said Florida International athletic director Pete Garcia, who served as the recruiting coordinator on former Miami coach Butch Davis’ staff when the Hurricanes were on probation in the 1990s. “Evaluation is the key. It’s more about evaluating than recruiting. When you have limits on scholarships, you have to make every one count.”

Even if a program makes all the right choices, it inevitably will encounter depth problems. For example, Carlisle’s transfer has left USC with only three scholarship tailbacks.

Then again, USC may be uniquely equipped to deal with scholarship reductions.

When the NCAA handed down its sanctions in the summer of 2010, it essentially turned USC’s juniors and seniors into free agents by allowing them to leave for another Division I program without sitting out a year. USC opened preseason camp in 2010 with only 70 scholarship players, so Kiffin won’t be facing a situation he had never encountered before.

“It’s just made us manage our team a little more like an NFL team, with the lower numbers on game day, the lower numbers in practice and the lower numbers in the spring,” said Kiffin, who coached the Oakland Raiders in 2007 and 2008. “We had to be a little more specific. Instead of maybe signing big classes – or getting good players regardless of position – we had to be more specific about where those guys would exactly fit in as we moved forward. It’s more like the NFL.”

Of course, classes don’t get much bigger than the 30-man group (including eight early enrollees) that USC signed last year. USC wouldn’t be facing such a numbers crunch if it had brought in a smaller class last year, but Kiffin has no regrets. He said the large 2011 class was necessary so that USC would have enough talent in place to deal with the pending scholarship cuts.

“It would have been crippling to our program not to do what we did,” Kiffin said.

A look at USC’s depth chart backs up Kiffin’s point. That 2011 class included four players who were starting by the end of the season: Lee, offensive guard Marcus Martin, linebacker Lamar Dawson and kicker Andre Heidari.

The rapid development of that class has helped put USC in its current position as a potential title contender.

“To finish sixth in the country, have 10 regular-season wins and to [potentially] be a preseason top-five team, it makes us feel very good about what has happened and where our program is now compared to where everybody said it would be,” Kiffin said.

USC undoubtedly has withstood the effects of probation thus far better than anyone could have reasonably expected.

But their biggest challenge is still to come. As the scholarship losses take effect, USC’s ability to remain a national power in the post-Barkley era will depend on whether the quality of these next few recruiting classes makes up for their lack of quantity.

(Olin Buchanan of contributed to this report).

Steve Megargee is a national writer for He can be reached at, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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