Haden, 'It was a gut feeling'

UCS athletic director Pat Haden met with the media Sunday afternoon to discuss the firing of head coach Lane Kiffin. Haden called the decision a 'gut feeling' he couldn't ignore...

At 3:45 am PT in a meeting room at LAX, USC head coach Lane Kiffin was fired by university athletic director Pat Haden.

It was less than a mere five hours after the Trojans suffered a 62-41 loss to Arizona State which dropped them to 3-2 on the season and 0-2 in the Pac-12.

Players were notified within thirty minutes of Kiffin's firing by a text message sent from the sports office.

"This has been a hard day for all of us inside USC athletics," Haden said to the media during an afternoon press conference on Sunday. "It's a hard job and I had to make the decision I felt was best for USC."

Haden said Kiffin fought for his job through the 45-minute meeting in the early morning hours, but ultimately Haden had to go with what he called his "gut feeling" and let Kiffin go.

"He really tried to keep his job," Haden explained. "And I respect him more for that."

Haden admitted he thought the 2012 7-6 season was an aberration for Kiffin and the Trojans since coming off a 10-2 2011 season capped by a 50-0 win over UCLA. Haden was convinced that Kiffin would be able to right the team's path to start the 2013 season.

However, through five games the athletic director admitted he just didn't get the feeling the team was heading in the right direction since last season's disappointments.

The offense has been sputtering. Marqise Lee, the nation's top receiver in 2012 has been a non-factor. Boosters and fans inside the Coliseum have been calling for Kiffin to be fired at each of the Trojans three home games.

"This has been brewing for awhile and I haven't felt particularly good even since the Hawaii game," Haden explained.

After the Pac-12 opening 10-7 loss in the Coliseum to Washington State, a source close to the situation told FOX Sports SCPlaybook that Kiffin would be fired if he lost either of the next two games to Boston College or Utah State, or if the Trojans were "embarrassed" by Arizona State in the desert.

Due to reduced scholarship numbers and injury USC only traveled 55 scholarship players to Arizona State.

Haden acknowledged that Kiffin was tasked with coaching USC through a difficult period in the programs history due to the sanctions placed on the program by the NCAA starting in 2010.

Because of the unprecedented conditions forced upon the USC football program during Kiffin's time as head coach, Harden said he had to grade Kiffin on a curve, a curve he still ultimately failed on.

"Lane never complained about [the sanctions], he lived with it and did all he could for USC," Haden said.

"In my heart of hearts, I supported Lane with everything I had over the last three years," Haden continued.

With eight games remaining on the Trojans regular season schedule, Haden has appointed recruiting coordinator/defensive line coach Ed Orgeron as the interim head coach.

"We think he is going to do as good of a job as he can under these circumstances," Haden said.

Quarterbacks coach Clay Helton will takeover as offensive coordinator and will call the plays.

Kiffin's final record at USC: 28-15.

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