USC idle; Lane Kiffin still center of attention

Chris Dufresne takes time out (he gets 3 per half) each Friday during college football season to answer questions. Topics include Lane Kiffin's future, Ohio State's ranking and the Heisman hopefuls.

Unbuckling the mailbag:

Question: The temptation to cheat grows in proportion to Lane Kiffin's failures. Why does Pat Haden plan on keeping him?

Matt McKillop

Answer: Kiffin doesn't need to cheat to win. Players are not USC's problem. The Trojans had top-five talent this year but the coaching didn't crack the top 25. In fact, it wasn't even listed as "others receiving votes."

Haden is in a tough spot. He loves Kiffin's work ethic and there is no doubt he can recruit. Kiffin's game management skills left much to be desired and the defense was mostly horrible.

The first necessary step took place Thursday when Kiffin's dad, Monte, announced he was retiring after the bowl game. This had to happen — and did.

Firing Lane Kiffin now would only appease an angry fan base but may not solve the longer-term problem. With the weight of NCAA sanctions yet to come, no one knows when or where the program will hit bottom.

What top-shelf coach would want this job right now?

Q: Are you trying to get Lane Kiffin fired?

William Barnes

A: Actually, I think the man most responsible for getting Lane Kiffin fired will end up being Lane Kiffin.

Q: How's that Lane Kiffin working out?

Dale Moss

A: Based on his physique and general physical condition, I would estimate Kiffin is working out at least five or six days a week.

Q: I always enjoy reading your articles. Today, you ranked Ohio State No. 2. Do you really believe that?

Galyn Cagle

A: This is an old parlor trick I like to play with Southeastern Conference fans that really is inconsequential in the big picture.

In 2009, I tortured Alabama fans just for fun by purposely low-balling the Crimson Tide all season. It drove Crimson Tide fans nuts, which is Article Three in the mission statement governing my weekly rankings.

Alabama Nation couldn't figure out I was moving the Tide up one spot every week and that if it won all its games it would be in my national title game, which is exactly what happened.

I'm doing the same thing here. I can put Ohio State at No. 2 because it does not matter. The Buckeyes' season is over at 12-0. Notre Dame is No. 1 and will win the national title if it wins the Bowl Championship Series title game.