Los Angeles Daily News Trojans football reporter Scott Wolf said on Sunday that one player told him Kiffin “lost the locker room.” That’s not a surprise considering the team went 7-6 last season and got slaughtered in the Sun Bowl.
Then in the offseason, Matt Barkley was critical of Kiffin, saying the coach focused too much on Marqise Lee, which came as a detriment to the rest of the offense.
Of course things did not improve this season. USC had the home loss to Washington State in the second week of the season, narrowly escaped Utah State, and then got crushed by Arizona State on the road. They were 3-2 overall and 0-2 in conference when Kiffin was dropped.
One player reportedly told Wolf that Kiffin being fired was a weight lifted off them. You can interpret that many ways, but it’s clear the player felt that having Kiffin gone was good for the team.
Rich Hammond of the OC Register says athletic director Pat Haden said the reception from the players was “great” when he met with them to share the news.
Wolf also said a player told him he resented how Kiffin would only focus on certain players, like Barkley.
Whether they didn’t like the way he coached or just thought it would be better for the program if he were gone, it’s obvious many players were happy to see Kiffin fired. We also know there are recruits who wanted him gone, too.