CULVER CITY, Calif. -- Even coming off a 7-6 season -- or maybe because of it -- USC still can draw a crowd.
The transcript of the Trojans' press conference with head coach Lane Kiffin, wide receiver Mariqse Lee and linebacker Hayes Pullard at Pac-12 media day Friday came in at a full six pages, while no other program topped four.
During the afternoon breakout session, nearly two dozen reporters surrounded the embattled Kiffin. New Oregon coach Mark Helfrich drew only five media members to discuss how he can take the Ducks to a fifth-consecutive BCS bowl, while David Shaw of defending Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champion Stanford was easily available for one-on-one interviews.
USC athletic director Pat Haden had come to the defense of Kiffin on Thursday. In the nearly-five minute statement released on YouTube, Haden declared that Kiffin was not on the proverbial hot seat.
"I am behind Lane Kiffin 100 percent," Haden said. "I have great confidence in him. He is a very hard working, detail-oriented coach. He knows USC and knows what it takes to be successful here."
Lee, a unanimous All-American and winner of the Biletnikoff Award as the top wide receiver in college football last season, echoed those sentiments.
"As a coach, Kiffin is great," Lee said. "People don't understand I wouldn't be in the position I am now without him as a coach. I'll play for Kiffin until I die. I wouldn't mind if he was my coach at the next level.
"Even though he gets all the bad vibes and people are pushing him down, he makes sure we're taken care of and everything is handled before he go to think about himself."
No matter how Kiffin is thought of within the program, all the outside attention is going to remain squarely on him. Win or lose, that's just how it is at USC.