Kiffin's critical decision

Ed Orgeron seems to be the logical choice to become defensive coordinator, but he's not the only candidate. Chris Williams/Icon SMI

LOS ANGELES -- We've been down this road before. When a head coach is in hot water, the first to go are the assistant coaches, either by choice or directive, followed by the offensive or defensive coordinator or both.

Before this season, one of the bigger Pac-12 news items was the defensive coaching purge orchestrated by Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. After an incredibly embarrassing 67-56 loss in the 2011 Alamo Bowl, "Sark" dispatched longtime friend and defensive coordinator Nick Holt, once a fellow USC assistant.

With money bags in hand, Sarkisian, who was under a lot of heat, made major news by dislodging recruiting maestro and defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi from Cal and, even more importantly, secured the defensive coordinator services of Justin Wilcox, the former Oregon linebacker who had done noteworthy work at Boise State and Tennessee.