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ERASE THIS GAME: USC 7, WAZZU 10

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LANE KIFFIN WAS NOT FIRED AFTER THIS GAME, AND YOU TRY EXPLAINING WHY THAT IS

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Have you ever said or written a word so many times consecutively that it stops making sense altogether? Where the letters start blurring into nonsense and just speaking the word seems foreign and uncomfortable, even though this word was so recently full of concrete meaning? If you haven't, I'm sorry for what we're about to put you through.

USC fired Lane Kiffin on September 30, 2013, after a 21 point loss to Arizona State on the road.

Washington State played USC every season from 2003 to 2010, and they lost all eight of those games. The average Trojan margin of victory was nearly 33 points, and the road games were particularly bad; in four tries, the Cougars never broke 17 points in the Coliseum. The 2010 edition, in Pullman, was especially brutal. Wazzu gave up over 600 yards of offense, allowed over 10 yards per USC passing attempt, lost by 34, and watched a new head coach get his first win in the Pac-12.

Conference expansion kept the two teams from playing again until 2013, at 10:30 Eastern in early September.

DEAR SAMUEL (STOP) I TRUST MY ATTORNEY HAS DELIVERED TO YOU THE NECESSARY DOCUMENTS TO EFFECT THE SALE OF YOUR FAMILY HOMESTEAD (STOP) SIGN THEM IMMEDIATELY SO WE MAY HAVE THE FUNDS TO BEGIN OUR JOURNEY TO CALIFRONIA (STOP) OUR GUIDE ASSURES ME WEALTH IS MOST BOUNTIFUL THERE AND WE SHALL TRIPLE OUR INVESTMENT AT WORST (STOP)

People react to pressure differently. In aviation, there's a protocol called CRM, or Crew Resource Management, a system taught to pilots to teach them to more or less work as a team. Prior to CRM, everyone just sort of deferred to the captain because he was the captain, and presumably knew what he was doing and saw everything he needed to see. Then a captain sort of forgot to look at the gas gauge one night over Portland, got super interested in this little landing gear issue they might be having, and had to drop a DC-8 into a residential neighborhood when they ran out of gas.

The basic issue is trusting your team when you run into a crisis, and admitting that no, you might not see everything, and you might have to let others solve some problems for once. Kitchen-wise, it means you might have to trust them to cut some carrots so you can keep an eye on the grill. Surgically speaking, you might have to trust your second to make some sutures once in a while. Eventually, you have to trust those around you and keep your ears more open than your mouth.

USC fired Lane Kiffin on September 30, 2013, after a 21 point loss to Arizona State on the road.

You could do that, sure. Or you could do what Lane Kiffin did to the 2013 USC Trojans, and put the whole plane directly into the mountainside. No, we don't know what route the wide receiver's starting to run in that interception, or what ball Cody Kessler's throwing. But it went for the only TD Washington State would score that night.

Against a team USC had paved for nearly a decade straight, the Trojans did not have a pass play connect for longer than eight yards. USC had 54 yards passing, 45 fewer yards than Auburn did against Wazzu the previous week. Auburn was starting converted DB Nick Marshall at quarterback and let him pass 19 times against the Cougs. This means Lane Kiffin trusted his two hand-picked four-star quarterback recruits with just two more opportunities than Auburn did with someone who hadn't even started at the position as a college football player before.

It was like watching a Tour de France cyclist line up for a sprint stage, getting up on his bike, and then being halted while his crew bolted on a cartoonishly large pair of training wheels "for safety."

USC fired Lane Kiffin on September 30, 2013, after a 21 point loss to Arizona State on the road.

People in charge sometimes just do that. They flip out and want to watch every detail. They hire people they think they can trust, and then proceed to not trust them, and insist on doing it themselves, and then look! That's how you get this 2013 USC team, and Wazzu somehow breaking a routine screen to flip field position and effectively cripple USC.

Remember that episode of Kitchen Nightmares with Amy's Bakery, and Sammy the dude who lets his horrible wife run the kitchen while he verrrrrry sloooooowly enters the order himself into the POS? That's Lane Kiffin, minus the stealing tips part. (We think.) Flipping the field shouldn't matter when you have Marqise Lee, but USC wouldn't throw the ball more than six yards down the field, so why should Wazzu? Gordon Ramsay is screaming at you like he's your dad, Lane Kiffin. He is so insanely mad at you right now.

The panic grabbed Kiffin so hard that he benched Cody Kessler after the first half, put in Max Wittek, and called run play after run play after run play. Having found the garage infested with raccoons, Lane had sealed it off, declared it unusable, and decided he'd just park on the street.

A few tickets and fender benders later, Lane decided it was time to take the garage back. If time healed wounds, surely it would clean out your animal control nightmare of a passing game.

DARLING ELIZABETH (STOP) OUR EXPEDITION HAS BEEN ATTACKED BY BANDITS (STOP) BY THE TIME THIS MESSAGE REACHES YOU YOUR BROTHER WILL HAVE PASSED ON (STOP) ENCLOSED IS ONE FOOT-BALL WHICH HE WANTED YOUNG LIONEL TO HAVE WHEN HE IS OLD ENOUGH (STOP) GIVE MY LOVE TO OUR CHILDREN (STOP) ASSUMING THEY HAVE NOT DIED OF POX (STOP)

There is the bright angle of "oh, well, maybe this is Wazzu just turning things around here," and that's not entirely misleading, pending the larger trajectory of the Cougs and how the next couple of years turn out. But that's about it for positives. If you want to know how Lane Kiffin got to Alabama, it starts here, with the gameplan that wore suspenders and a belt and also stapled its pants to its shirt just to be sure. It starts with Wazzu somehow performing the theoretically impossible task of running out the clock at 2:18, something no Wazzu team should be able to do, ever.

They did it. Erase this game.

USC fired Lane Kiffin on September 30, 2013, after a 21 point loss to Arizona State on the road.

Doesn't make a damn bit of sense to you now, does it?