Part II of a Q&A with new USC coach Lane Kiffin.
What's your take on quarterback Matt Barkley's season?
LK: He was a true freshman. He made some mistakes and there were some injuries up front and at the receiver position, the receiver corps, forcing us to go to some different guys. But for a true freshman, he did a lot of good things. We're very excited about his future.
You spent a year in the SEC: How do you think that conference compares to the Pac-10?
LK: Front sevens are probably better out there, and that's been the way for a long time as you study the draft. From top to bottom, the SEC is tougher. I think that is proven by records and by studying over the years. Especially right now the SEC, the teams that usually were maybe on the bottom are having some of the best years they've ever had. But at the end of the day, it's football, especially when you're at SC. There's really not much difference because everywhere we go, it's going to be the biggest game, whoever we're playing. SC is one of the top places in the country. They used to ask me down in the SEC what's the difference between the SEC and USC and there really isn't [a difference]. When you play, you are everybody's biggest game.
Is the Pac-10 tougher top to bottom than when you left to take over in Oakland?
LK: I don't know if I can answer that. It appears to be but I have not studied every team to make that statement yet.
So, it seemed like the USC-UCLA rivalry amped up during recruiting: Do you expect detente or is this going to get even more heated and bitter than ever before between you and Rick Neuheisel?
LK: I'm not worried about what they are doing or what he's saying. They have a great program and great tradition and they've been winning a lot of games since he got there. So we don't really concern ourselves with that. We're just trying to get better.
How far are you guys away from competing for a national championship again?
LK: I can't answer that. We're just trying to finish off this signing class and we're excited how that went. We've got to finish off our staff and get ready for spring ball.