Saturday’s results, which bled into Sunday’s early-morning hours — when Trojans athletic director Pat Haden fired coach Lane Kiffin after landing at LAX — couldn’t have been worse for Arizona Wildcats fans.
* Washington handled previously unbeaten Arizona and raised more red flags about UA’s passing game.
* Then rival Arizona State, in danger of going 0-2 in the Pac-12, pounded USC and its previously proud defense 62-41, piling up 611 yards, the most ever against the Trojans.
* That game included a 28-0 ASU blitz in the third quarter, which is when Haden apparently decided to pull a Greg Byrne — fire his coach during the season before a bye week.
Not good for Arizona.
The Trojans have been a mess — uninspiring, uninterested, un-Pete Carroll-like.
USC has lost seven of its past 11 games, including a 3-2 mark this season.
Four of the losses in that stretch were to unranked teams, including Arizona. The Wildcats started Kiffin’s slide last Oct. 27, knocking off the 10th-ranked Trojans 39-36 in Tucson. The status quo at USC would have been fine by UA, but coach Rich Rodriguez won’t get a second chance at Kiffin.
Meanwhile, ESPN extends its thanks to Haden, because the Thursday night meeting in Los Angeles between Arizona and USC on Oct. 10 just got a lot more interesting.
Instead of having two unranked teams struggling at quarterback, coming off lopsided losses, it has the first game of the post-Kiffin era.
The last thing Arizona needed to see was USC get focused and energized — two qualities often lacking in the Trojans under Kiffin, especially in the past year — and the coaching change could do just that.
UA has seen it happen, as recently as October 2011.
After Byrne replaced Mike Stoops with interim coach Tim Kish, the motivated Wildcats walloped UCLA 48-12, with Kish having time during the bye week to tweak the defense.
USC is replacing Kiffin and his monotonous sideline demeanor by promoting decibel-increasing defensive line coach Ed Orgeron.
Kiffin, who had to navigate the program through NCAA sanctions and scholarship limitations from the Carroll era, was 28-15 in his career at USC. That included a 1-2 mark vs. Arizona in three games decided by a total of 13 points.
NOTE: USC All-American wide receiver Marqise Lee left Saturday night’s game with a knee injury. There was no official word on the severity of the injury, pending further examination today. Lee caught 16 passes for a Pac-12 record 345 yards with two touchdowns against Arizona last season. He finished with 468 all-purpose yards, including 123 from kick returns.