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Coach John Robinson, calling Southern California a football team in crisis, said Tuesday he will quit after the season if the Trojans don't improve.

"I'm a really good football coach who's not doing very well right now," Robinson said. "If I don't do better, then I will step aside.

"I'm the first to say that. . . . I'm not going to be part of a situation where I let this team slide into the gutter."

Athletic director Mike Garrett said after the Trojans' 35-7 loss at Arizona State last Saturday that he was sticking with Robinson through this season. The coach's contract extends through the 2001 season.

The Trojans' loss to the Sun Devils was their most lopsided defeat by an unranked team in Robinson's 12 years, and dropped them to 2-3, with two of their losses in Pacific-10 games.

Having lost six of their last nine dating back to last season, they face another team in trouble, Notre Dame, at South Bend this weekend.

The Trojans' problems have been many and varied: they've had trouble running the ball, sophomore quarterback John Fox hasn't been able to move the team consistently, and even the secondary, considered one of the strong points heading into the season, has been getting shredded.

Elsewhere, San Diego State quarterback Kevin McKechnie will miss as many as six weeks after suffering a broken vertebrae in Saturday's 36-21 loss to University of New Mexico. A bone scan showed McKechnie suffered a compound compression fracture in the 12th thoracic vertebrae, located in his mid-back. McKechnie has completed 107 of 179 passes this season for 1,449 yards and 10 touchdowns with six interceptions.

Head coach Ted Tollner, a former Buffalo Bills assistant, hasn't decided who will replace McKechnie in Saturday's home game against UNLV.

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