Lane Kiffin could not escape the noise.
After USC’s 22-13 loss to Notre Dame on Saturday night, cheers and other boisterous shouts from the Fighting Irish locker room reverberated through the walls during Kiffin's postgame news conference.
Later, when Kiffin was readying to leave the stadium in his car, Notre Dame’s massive equipment truck sat nearby idling and rumbling in the Coliseum tunnel.
Then, of course, there was the sound of USC fans, screaming for Kiffin’s head after the Trojans finished the regular season by losing four of their last five games to end up 7-5.
The loss to Notre Dame, coming a week after a loss to UCLA, marked the first time since 1995 that the Trojans were swept by their rivals.
After the UCLA loss, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden told Bill Plaschke of The Times: “Lane is my head coach, 150%, now and hopefully for a long time.”
Asked late Saturday if the situation was the same after the Notre Dame loss, Kiffin said, “Yes. And I'm saying we've got to get better, we need to do a better job. And what we've got to do is sign the No. 1 [recruiting] class in the country.”
Kiffin described the Trojans’ finish — which included losses to Arizona, Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame — as “a horrible five weeks. We were right there at 6-1, ready to go to 7-1, and screwed up.”
Kiffin said his postgame address to his team touched on several points.
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“I just thanked the seniors, for what they’ve been through and the hard work,” Kiffin said. “We talked about finishing strong academically, and we’ll figure out the rest.”
USC is bound for a bowl game next month that will be far from Bowl Championship Series glamour.
Kiffin said he was not concerned about his players’ motivation.
“That’s so far from now,” he said. “I’m not worried about it.”