USC walk-on loses scholarship to make room for Simione Vehikite, who was just released from jail

As those of us who watch college athletics know all too well, coaching at a high-profile Division-I program is typically more about winning than anything else. Players who contribute to the winning cause are constantly allowed to bend the rules both in the classroom and in everyday life. At USC, for example, a player can be sentenced to jail time and have his scholarship waiting for him when he returns.

Linebacker Simione Vehikite was sentenced to a year in jail back in mid-May after pleading no contest to leaving the scene of a car accident and driving with a .08 percent blood-alcohol level and causing injury. He served slightly over three months of his sentence and returned to the team on Wednesday. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, head coach Lane Kiffin said he was no longer a part of the program when he was arrested last March.

That didn’t last very long. Not only was Vehikite welcomed back to the program, but a walk-on named Will Andrew did not have his scholarship renewed to make room for him. Kiffin does not feel as though he owes anyone an explanation for the situation.

“They’re never granted longer (than a year),” Kiffin said. “He was fortunate to have one for a year.”

While that may be true, it’s also not all that common for a player to serve jail time and still be able to have his tuition taken care of when he gets out. Andrew said the situation is “out of my control” and that he will do whatever the coaches ask of him, but he has to feel slighted. Who wouldn’t? I guess Vehikite fits into Kiffin’s plan of winning with style and Andrew doesn’t.

H/T No Guts, No Glory

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

Matt Barkley USC football billboard disappears in Westwood

A USC football billboard featuring Matt Barkley that appeared in Westwood nearby the UCLA campus was covered on Tuesday, sparking a mini-mystery. Both USC and UCLA denied any role in the billboard being covered. A USC spokesman even saying the billboard was part of a city-wide marketing campaign. Finally the billboard company admitted they were the ones who decided to cover it up.

According to KTLA, the billboard site is owned by Regency Outdoor Advertising, a company co-owned by Brian Kennedy, a prominent USC donor, after whom a USC practice fields is named. Kennedy reportedly said the company decided to move the Barkley board to another location.

It seems like this comes down to some big USC fans trying to taunt UCLA by putting the billboard up by the Bruins’ campus. It’s no wonder USC tried to distance themselves from the campaign.

Regardless of who was responsible for the billboard, this is now the second time USC has taunted UCLA in the past few months when it comes to football. The Bruins need to respond on the field to maintain their self-respect.

Photos via SportsCenter/Twitter

USC schedule lists UCLA as home game

USC is so confident about its dominance against UCLA recently that it’s listing their November game at the Rose Bowl as a home game. Scott Enyeart, who noticed the sly jab by the Trojans, says the schedule is a keychain-sized one that’s being distributed around campus at the bookstore and Heritage Hall.

USC has 12 games on its schedule for the upcoming season — six at home, five on the road, and a neutral-site game against Syracuse. The keychain schedule shows the Nov. 17 game at UCLA as a home contest even though that’s one of their five road games.

The Trojans have won 12 of their last 13 games against against the Bruins, including five of six at the Rose Bowl. Even though they dominated the Bruins 50-0 last year, being too overconfident can be dangerous. Games are won on the field, not on paper. Just ask Rick Neuheisel about that.

Photo, story via Scott Enyeart

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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Video: USC Fumble Gives Stanford the Win, Cover

USC running back Curtis McNeal fumbled in the third overtime Saturday to keep the Trojans from beating Stanford. USC played an excellent game and led for most of the fourth quarter before losing 56-48. It can be argued that they should have won in regulation.

After the teams traded touchdowns in the first two overtimes, USC needed a touchdown and two-point conversion to match Stanford. Junior Curtis McNeal, who ran for a career-high 146 yards and two touchdowns, lost a fumble to end the game. Here is a video of the heartbreaking play:

Thanks to the fumble recovery, Stanford’s 16-game winning streak continues. The Trojans had this one. They were up 20-10 in the third quarter and 34-27 after Nickell Robery’s interception returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Over the last two weeks, USC has proved they’re a much stronger team than what they showed at the beginning of the season.

In another significant turn, the fumble helped Stanford cover the spread in most places. The game opened with Stanford favored by by 8.5 points most sports books. After money came in on USC, the line closed with the Cardinal favored by 7.5 points. By recovering the fumble, not only did Stanford win, they helped most bettors cover the spread.

video via CJ Fogler

USC Linebacker Chris Galippo on Notre Dame: They Just Quit

USC was able to defeat Notre Dame fairly easily on Saturday night in a game many expected to be an exciting one. While the score never really got away from the Irish, there were times in the second half where they appeared to be sleep walking. With the Trojans leading by only a touchdown in the fourth quarter and about eight minutes remaining, Notre Dame turned it over by fumbling on what should have been a routine swing pass.

In many ways, Notre Dame beat themselves.  In case they needed to add insult to injury after the game, USC linebacker Chris Galippo decided to kick the Irish while they were down.

“They just quit,” Galippo said according to the Orange County Register. “That’s what Notre Dame football is all about. They’re not anything like ‘SC.”

Running back Marc Tyler also added that Notre Dame “didn’t want to play anymore.”  Burn.  Brian Kelly’s program has enough questions surrounding it to begin with.  Between last night’s shaky prime-time performance and Kelly complaining about scheduling, the Irish seem to be headed in the wrong direction.  At 4-3 and with Stanford remaining on the schedule, they will have to fight just to become bowl eligible.  After watching Notre Dame turtle in the fourth quarter Saturday night, I’m not convinced they have what it takes to turn their disappointing season around.