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Did Lane Kiffin have a player switch jersey numbers during game to trick opponent?

Lane Kiffin has a job to do at USC, and that’s to win football games. If that means doing something aimed at deceiving your opponent that is technically within the confines of the NCAA rules, Kiffin is open to it. For example, let’s look at his decision to have backup quarterback Cody Kessler change jerseys from No. 6 to No. 35 in the first half against Colorado.

According to the L.A. Times, Kessler played on special teams in the first half wearing jersey No. 35, which is typically worn by punter Kyle Negrete. Kessler nearly ran the ball in for a two-point conversion on one play but a holding penalty brought it back. When asked if Kessler was wearing the number of a punter to try to fool Colorado, Kiffin said very little.

“We change jerseys all the time with our guys,” he said on Tuesday. “We’ll change some more this week. Everything’s within college rules.”

That may not be exactly true. NCAA rules say that multiple players can wear the same jersey number as long as they are not on the field at the same time. However, within a section of the NCAA rulebook called “The Football Code” it clearly states that “changing numbers during the game to deceive the opponent” is illegal and should result in a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Obviously it is extremely difficult to prove whether or not a coach intended to deceive an opponent. It’s a mere judgment call from the officials, so you can understand why they might be hesitant to call it. Had Kessler not attempted a two-point conversion, it might be easier to believe that Kiffin was not trying to fool Colorado. We all know a mobile backup quarterback wearing a punter’s number and attempting to run the ball is no coincidence.

Lane Kiffin cuts press conference very short after injury question (Video)

Writers and reporters learned a valuable lesson after USC’s practice on Wednesday — ask a question about a specific player’s injury and the fun ends for everyone. As you can see from the video above that Lindsey Thiry of FOX Sports shared on Twitter, the first question asked to Lane Kiffin during his media session Wednesday was also the last. Thiry mentioned on Twitter that she muted the question in her YouTube video in order to adhere to USC’s policy, since the question named a specific player.

Like it or not, this is how it’s going to be at USC this season and going forward. Last week, the Trojans stripped a reporter of his press credentials for two weeks of practice and the Sept. 22 Cal game for writing about kicker Andre Heidari’s leg injury. That was a loud statement from Kiffin, who decided to make another one on Wednesday. All it takes is one bad egg to spoil the dozen. Let’s learn to follow the rules, children.

H/T Dr. Saturday

USC bans writer from Cal game and two weeks of practice for reporting an injury

USC has a fairly simple policy regarding injuries this season: don’t talk about them. That goes for players, coaches, staff and apparently members of the media.

Trojans kicker Andre Heidari suffered an injury during the team’s opening game against Hawaii that required knee surgery last week. He did not travel with the team to New Jersey for last week’s game against Syracuse, and he is expected to miss about three weeks.

We know all this because it was reported by Scott Wolf of the Daily News over the weekend. As a result, the team has banned Wolf from attending the next two weeks of practice and will not issue him a press credential for the game against California on Sept. 22. Daily News sports editor Gene Warnick does not agree with the decision.

“From our standpoint, Scott was doing his job,” Warnick said, adding that he and a couple of other sports editors are scheduled to speak with USC Athletic Director Pat Haden about the issue. “This wasn’t something that was part of practice. We were just trying to report the news.”

If Wolf relayed some sort of information about plays or game-planning, the ban would seem more reasonable. NFL coaches like Bill Belichick try to be as secretive as possible about injuries, but they don’t punish writers for reporting them. If the writer obtains the information, it is their job to inform the public. Kiffin and company should do a better job of covering up injuries if they don’t want them reported.

UPDATE: Wolf says his two-day practice ban was lifted after several sports directors for local newspapers met with USC athletic director Pat Haden.

Lane Kiffin not just content with winning, he wants to put on a show

Most coaches and players will tell you that it’s not about lighting up the stat sheet or looking good — it’s simply about winning games. An ugly win is still a win and that’s all that matters, right? Not in L.A. Like any other coach in the NCAA, Lane Kiffin wants his No. 1-ranked Trojans to go undefeated this season. He doesn’t just want to win, however. He wants his guys to show some flash while they’re at it.

“L.A.’s a town that isn’t real fired up about winning games 14-10,” Kiffin said Wednesday according to the Orange County Register. “You’ve got a lot to compete with. So there is a ‘Showtime’ element. There is a style factor to it.”

To coach in Hollywood, you’ve got to think Hollywood. Or, at least, that’s how Kiffin is approaching it. And for those of you who think this is some comment that Kiffin gave before thinking, it’s not. He shared the same message with ESPN The Magazine a few weeks ago.

“Winning solves a lot of problems,” Kiffin said. “But not a distant second, I think, is style. We want to play great defense, and we did here before, but it wasn’t our defense that has Snoop on the sidelines. It wasn’t the defense that was heading SportsCenter. It was the Heisman Trophies. It was the offense. Offense is what fills the stadium. That’s what LA is: Win, and win with style. And they’ll come.”

A lot of fans probably don’t want to hear that their coach is overly concerned with flash, but Kiffin is right that putting up points and winning with style sells tickets and creates headlines. However, Alabama won the BCS National Championship last season largely with tremendous defense and some ugly victories, so at the end of the day it’s the winning that truly solves everything.

H/T Sports by Brooks Live

Lane Kiffin caught lying about voting USC No. 1 in coaches’ poll

Lane Kiffin became the first USC football coach to vote in the USA Today coaches’ poll since John Robinson, and it didn’t take long for him to be caught in a lie.

On Tuesday, Kiffin was told that Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez voted his team No. 1 in the coaches’ poll. When asked for his vote, Kiffin responded:

“I would not vote USC No. 1, I can tell you that,” according to the LA Daily News.

USA Today, which administers the poll, set the record straight on Thursday by revealing that Kiffin in fact voted his team No. 1. When contacted by USA Today about misrepresenting the truth, Kiffin backpedaled.

Kiffin said he meant that he wouldn’t vote USC No. 1 if he were in the media or coaching another team.

“We have less players than everybody else,” Kiffin said. “So looking at it from the outside, I wouldn’t (vote USC No. 1). Did I? Yeah, I did. That’s not based off of 75 vs. 85. That’s based off of (USC players) Matt Barkley, T.J. McDonald and Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. When everybody has the same record, I can’t go into a meeting with our players and have them say, ‘You put that team and that team ahead of us.’ That’s why I did that.”

I don’t buy Kiffin’s “clarification” any more than I buy Jim Mora’s excuse that he wasn’t taking a shot at USC when he said UCLA doesn’t have murders a block away from campus. Kiffin wanted to look good to the public, but his move backfired. This is just another reason why I don’t believe Kiffin when he says things like this. He may be a good football coach, but the truth is he’s disingenuous.

Lane Kiffin shamelessly recruits Silas Redd from Penn State (Video)

Lane Kiffin says he feels for Penn State’s coaches who are trying to keep their program together despite losing multiple scholarships, but he doesn’t feel badly enough to refrain from making a recruiting pitch aimed at one of their top players.

The LA Times reported on Monday that after Penn State was penalized by the NCAA, USC contacted the school about its intent to recruit sophomore running back Silas Redd, who rushed for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Unprompted, Kiffin directed part of his introductory comments at Pac-12 media day on Tuesday toward Redd without specifically mentioning the Penn State player’s name.

“Our No. 1 concern is our running back position,” Kiffin said. “We’re very concerned about our depth there. We’re going to have a lot of seven-man boxes, a lot of opportunity for a running back to make plays in our system, so we really have to do a good job of developing some depth at running back.”

Kiffin was later asked about USC’s interest in Silas. That’s when Mr. Integrity drew the line.

“We can’t speak on any kids on their roster,” Kiffin answered. “They’re just like high school kids at this point, so we can’t say anything about it.”

So let’s get this straight: Kiffin, representing one school in trouble with the NCAA, is trying to poach kids from another school in trouble with the NCAA, all the while feeling badly for the coaches.

“I feel for their staff, especially the head coach, because just like our deal, our kids had nothing to do with this,” said Kiffin.

Yes, I feel badly for you, Bill O’Brien, but I don’t mind swiping your best player. Lane Kiffin, everybody.

Lane Kiffin Says Refs Lied to Him, But He Made Risky Play Call and Paid

Lane Kiffin is upset with the Pac-12 referees for “lying” to him about a call at the end of regulation between USC and Stanford Saturday, but does he have a case? The play in question was the last play of regulation. The Trojans threw a screen to Robert Woods on 2nd and 10 with nine seconds left and two timeouts. The plan was to use one of the timeouts if Woods got tackled in bounds. Here’s the play:

Woods was ruled down in bounds with one second still showing on the clock. Lane Kiffin said he had an agreement with one of the officials that a timeout would have been called if they ruled Woods was tackled in bounds. The problem is there was less than a second left when Woods went down, and that really wasn’t enough time to get the referee’s attention and have them call timeout. Timeouts are not enforced when a coach wanted it to be called, but when the referee actually calls it.

Instead of being mad at an official for not calling the timeout, Kiffin should be upset with Robert Woods for running across the entire field instead of going down immediately and calling a timeout. It was a poor decision by Woods — one that wasted five seconds. It was also a risky play call by Kiffin because it relied on his players to manage the time properly. But Kiffin does have legitimate complaints about two other calls from the game.

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