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Lane Kiffin refuses to stay out of the news

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I really thought (and hoped) that my last coaching update would be the last time I had to talk about Lane Kiffin for a few months.  At least until next season.  Heck, at least until the draft.

It lasted 24 days.   Not even a full month. 

Of course, what I’m referring to is the news that Lane Kiffin got a 13 year-old kid to verbally commit to USC.   That’s right – a kid who hasn’t even committed to high school or taking the SAT or driving a car has verbally committed to play football for the Trojans.

As if I needed another reason to think Kiffin is a creepy attention monger, now he’s pulling yet another media stunt by courting a child.  Not even a high school kid.  A child whose main concern should still be trying to figure out which deodorant works best for him.

Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass…no, wait – this report says it’s David Sills – is a middle school football phenom from Delaware who has been personally groomed by the same personal trainer/USC pipeliner that trained Matt Leinart and Matt Barkley, according to ESPN.com.

Sills’s father was surprised at the amount of criticism that he, Kiffin and the trainer (Steve Clarkson) have received, even though he acknowledged that he thought it was weird.

“Even when I sit back and reflect on it, it’s shocking, weird, bizarre, you name it,” said Sills’ father to ESPN.com.

Did you realize this only in retrospect, or did you realize that before you did it and say, “I’m willing to let my son be in a weird situation if it means getting paid someday.”

He went on to say, “The rules are the rules and as long as you abide by the rules then you abide by the rules….”

Has he not watched ESPN in the last year?  He really doesn’t want to get into a rules discussion when Kiffin is involved.  That’s a very iffy area.

“If people don’t like this they don’t need to get mad about it and bash the dad and bash the coach and bash the kid…”

Nobody is bashing the kid, and I think it’s pathetic when people hide behind the kid when people aren’t bashing the kids, but the adults who are using them.

“They should call up the NCAA and tell them that they don’t like the rules.”

Again, nice deflection, but there is no shortage of people telling the NCAA they don’t like their rules.  Even the US Justice Department is getting in on the act as it ramps up for an investigation into the BCS

But, this isn’t about the rules.  This is about people who are, as Michael Wilbon put it on Pardon The Interruption yesterday, out pimping their kids.  People aren’t really concerned about the letter of the law at the moment.

To be fair, Tony Kornheiser also pointed out on PTI that this is hardly new.  Jim Caldwell, who appears to know a thing or two about winning, got a 13 year-old Chris Leak to commit to Wake Forest when he was coaching there.  That’s just to be fair.  Still doesn’t make it any less creepy.

“For the people that don’t like kids getting recruited early, if it was their kid, what would they do?” Sills’s father asked ESPN.com.  “Would they hold them back?”

No.  And there is no delusion here that recruiting starts when kids are seniors in high school.  Scouting starts absurdly early.  It’s how we knew about LeBron James and O.J. Mayo when they were also just kids, just to name two of myriads of kids.  But there is a far cry between scouting and recruiting with intent to come to a verbal committment.  Meeting with a kid and making a verbal committment isn’t even close to the same thing as just keeping an eye on a kid who shows real promise.

This is merely the latest in a constantly growing portfolio of shady activity by Kiffin.  It’s the reason I questions USC’s hiring in the first place, and it’s the reason I continue to be completely unsurprised by stories like this.  I think it’s time for grown ups to start acting like grown ups and treating kids like the kids they are rather than as things to be used for their gain.

Written by Austin Swafford

February 6, 2010 at 9:48 am

Posted in Commentary

College Football News: Florida tops recruiting class

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National signing day.  Huge day, and huge news for Gator Nation as they nabbed four top-10 recruits to top ESPN.com‘s 2010 recruiting class.  Texas, with the two top-10 recruits they nabbed last week on the defensive side of the ball, were ranked 2nd.  Click below for full story:

Gators have four top-10 recruits

Written by Austin Swafford

February 3, 2010 at 8:33 pm

College Football News: Texas lands 2 top recruits

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ESPN.com announced today that the University of Texas has signed two of the top remaining recruits in the country.  It received committments from defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat (the No. 2 recruit on ESPN’s board) and outside lineback Jordan Hicks (ranked No. 4 by ESPN).

I won’t even try to hide my bias on this one…these are huge for Texas and I’m really excited about it.  These two could go a long way to replenishing a Texas defense that will be very depleted with the departures of key players like Lamarr Houston, Sergio Kindle and Roddrick Muckelroy.  Click below for the full story:

http://sports.espn.go.com/dallas/news/story?id=4869265

Written by Austin Swafford

January 29, 2010 at 9:03 pm

College Football News: Kiffin to take USC job

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ESPN.com is reporting that Tennessee Volunteers coach Lane Kiffin has agreed in principle on a deal to replace Pete Carroll at USC. Hopefully these sources are more reliable than the ones that said Jack Del Rio would be taking the job.

This is a nice little turnaround for Kiffin, whose career wasn’t looking all that promising after a difficult stint with the Oakland Raiders, followed by a year at Tennessee chock full of near-upsets, trash talking and alleged NCAA violations.  I’m not sure why that’s who USC would pick to inherit the program that Carroll appears to have left just in time to avoid NCAA sanctions for the Reggie Bush and Joe McKnight scandals.  But, regardless, the Trojans reportedly have their man.

Sources: Kiffin to USC

***UPDATE***

USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett confirms that Lane Kiffin has been hired as the Trojans head coach.  ESPN.com also now reports that a deal is being finalized to bring legendary offensive coordinator Norm Chow back to USC from UCLA.

Lane Kiffin bolts Tennessee to coach USC

***UPDATE…REACTIONS***

Rocky Top Talk – Fury in Tennessee over Kiffin’s role as “rebound girl”

Trojan Wire – Kiffin hire “pays recruiting gold”

Mark Schlabach – Kiffin’s decision a blessing for Vols

Pat Forde – USC latest proving ground for Kiffin

ESPN – College Football Nation Blog

***UPDATE…MORE REACTIONS***

Rocky Top Talk – Thank You, Lane Kiffin

Trojan Wire – Top recruits happy with hire; USC reportedly trying to snag Tennessee recruits

ESPN – Vols “disappointed” by Kiffin’s abrupt departure

Gene Wojciechowski – Kiffin cares only about himself

Mark Saxon – USC shows “suicidal recklessness or confident defiance” in Kiffin hire

Arash Markazi – Ex-Trojans thrilled

***UPDATE…NORM CHOW STYLE***

Norm Chow’s agent reportedly told ESPN that he has not been contacted about returning to coach at USC.  In fact, from reports that I read, it appears Chow and Kiffin didn’t get along at all (shocking considering how easy Kiffin is to get along with), so I’m not even sure where the story came from that he’d be courting Chow to work under him.

And I just want to take this update (which will probably be the last on this story) to say that Kiffin and Oregeron’s efforts to tell Tennessee recruits not to go to class so they can go to USC is disgusting.  I know many players commit to the coach and not the school, but telling kids not to go to class so you can rip them away from the school you ditched is just the latest on the list of classless actions by Kiffin.  Have fun with your new boy, USC.

Written by Austin Swafford

January 12, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Season wrap-up…final facts, figures and frustrations

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I probably should have written this last Friday, Saturday or even Sunday.  I hope you will forgive the tardiness of this article as I have been letting the disappointment of the lost championship drain away.  It seems 2009 was just the season destined to see the University of Texas as the #2.  They lost the College World Series finals, the volleyball national championship and the BCS National Championship.  Second place in three sports speaks of a school’s great talent and diversity, but it really would have been nice to see them bring home at least one of those titles.

But I digress.

I just wanted to wrap up the season with a few things.  Some house cleaning items, if you will, along with some thoughts on the national championship game.  First off, if you haven’t seen them, these are the final rankings:

AP USA Today
#1 Alabama (60) #1 Alabama (58)
#2 Texas #2 Texas
#3 Florida #3 Florida
#4 Boise State #4 Boise State
#5 Ohio State #5 Ohio State
#6 TCU #6 TCU
#7 Iowa #7 Iowa
#8 Cincinnati #8 Penn State
#9 Penn State #9 Cincinnati
#10 Virginia Tech #10 Virginia Tech
#11 Oregon #11 Oregon
#12 BYU #12 BYU
#13 Georgia Tech #13 Georgia Tech
#14 Nebraska #14 Nebraska
#15 Pittsburgh #15 Pittsburgh
#16 Wisconsin #16 Wisconsin
#17 LSU #17 LSU
#18 Utah #18 Utah
#19 Miami (FL) #19 Miami (FL)
#20 Mississippi #20 USC
#21 Texas Tech #21 Mississippi
#22 USC #22 West Virginia
#23 Central Michigan #23 Texas Tech
#24 Clemson #24 Central Michigan
#25 West Virginia #25 Oklahoma State



No major differences between the two major human polls.  #1-#7 is the same.  Though I’m trying to figure out why they put TCU ahead of Iowa when Iowa actually won their BCS bowl.  Nebraska seems kind of low considering how they dismantled a ranked opponent.  I’d say the same for BYU.  And how on earth does the Coaches poll still have Oklahoma State ranked?  Did they see how they played against Mississippi?  It was pathetic.

Biggest Winner: Aside from the obvious answer of Alabama for winning the national championship and being a unanimous No. 1, I’d have to call it a toss-up between Boise State and Ohio State.  Boise State manged to finish with its second top-5 finish in school history and continue to build momentum for non-BCS conferences by making this the fourth time in the last six years that a non-BCS team has finished in the top-5.  And Ohio State made one of the bigger poll jumps, moving three spots to put an exclamation mark on a great bowl season for the Big 10 with a top-5 finish.

Biggest Loser: Navy.  They totally dominated a solid Missouri team and still didn’t break the top 25.  They were hosed after an impressive season with plenty of impressive wins.  I can’t believe the voters overlooked Navy, especially when they managed to put Central Michigan in the top 25.  The Pac-10 is a very close second for biggest loser and is worth mentioning.  Oregon State, Stanford and Arizona fell out of the rankings in both polls after two of those three were absolutely throttled in their bowl games.

Here’s how the bowl season played out by conference:

Conference Schools Record Percentage
Independents Navy 1-0 1.000
MWC AF, BYU, TCU, Utah, Wyom 4-1 .800
Big East Cincy, Pitt, Rut, UConn, USF, WVU 4-2 .667
SEC Ala, Ark, Aub, Flor, Geor, Ky, LSU, Miss, SCar, Tenn 6-4 .600
Big 10 Iowa, MichSt, Minn, Nwstern, OSU, PSU, Wis 4-3 .571
Big 12 ISU, Mizzou, Neb, OU, OklaSt, Texas, TxA&M, TTech 4-4 .500
WAC Boise St, FresSt, Idaho, Nev 2-2 .500
Sun Belt MidTen, Troy 1-1 .500
ACC BC, Clem, FSU, GT, Miami, UNC, VT 3-4 .429
C-USA ECU, Hou, Marsh, SMU, SoMiss, UCF 2-4 .333
Pac-10 Ariz, Cal, Ore, OreSt, Stan, UCLA, USC 2-5 .286
MAC BGreen, CMich, NIU, Ohio, Tem 1-4 .200



Biggest Winner: Mountain West Conference.  Even though lots of conferences put on great performances, the MWC was the buzz of the bowl season.  Its only blemish was TCU’s close loss to Boise State…a very respectable loss to have on the record.  Meanwhile, Air Force, BYU, Utah and Wyoming all came up with huge bowl wins that left pundits asking if the MWC should be in the mix of conferences that receive an automatic bid.  I want to be on the record as saying that I’d have no problem with the MWC taking the ACC’s automatic bid, as the ACC fell to 2-10 in BCS bowls (second-worst is the Big 12, still way ahead at 7-10) and posted its third losing bowl season in a row.  They haven’t had a winning bowl season since 2005.  Time to stop treating that mess like a major conference.

Biggest Loser: Pac-10.  And it’s not even close.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  This time last year, the conversation was about the colossus that is the Pac-10 as they closed out an undefeated bowl season.  That seems a distant memory as the Pac-10 posted a 2-5 record, including humiliating losses by Oregon State and Arizona.  The conference’s only victories were USC (topping Boston College in a virtual home game at San Francisco) and UCLA (which beat Temple…not impressive).

Speaking of unimpressive, did anyone say anything about the picks Jon and I made for bowl games?  My record was completely pathetic.  Jon’s was only mildly pathetic.

On BCS Bowls:

Austin: 2-2

Jon: 1-3

Final for bowl season:

Jon: 10-14

Austin: 9-15

Final season total:

Jon: 220-76

Austin: 213-83

I think it’s clear who the big winner and the big loser is on this one.  Congratulations to Mr. Castano on a great season.  I very much look forward to next season and going out on a limb less with those Vanderbilt picks.

Lastly, I just have some thoughts on the national championship that I want to share.

1.  Those were two of the best defenses that I’ve seen square off in college football in recent memory.  I thought Alabama and Texas both deserve huge credit for what they did defensively.  And, since nobody is really talking about them in the wake of Alabama’s performance, I want to say that Sergio Kindle and Lamarr Houston were awesome and deserve just as much credit as anyone on Alabama that’s getting all the love right now.  The two Texas defensive linemen combined for 18 tackles (14 solo) and three sacks.  There’s no way those two didn’t improve their draft stock with how they played.

2.  Mark Ingram is an absolute beast.  Not that you didn’t already know that, I just want to give credit where it’s due.  After watching Greg McElroy this year and watching what happened when Ingram went out with cramps in the third quarter (Texas held Alabama to 3 yards of offense), I think it’s very easy to say this team wouldn’t be much without Ingram.  Even though I still think Toby Gerhart deserved the Heisman.

3.  The NCAA needs to take a serious look at how games are being officiated, especially in the SEC.  Alabama came into the championship having gone 34 quarters without having a holding call on their offensive line.  That is literally impossible.  I subscribe to the saying that there is a holding call on every play, it’s just a matter of whether you want to call it.  I think that’s true, and that means that SEC officials chose not to call the Tide for holding for eight and a half games.  That’s insane.  And if they played every game like they did against Texas, the idea that it’s just disciplined ball is a myth, because they held all over the place.  I’m not making excuses for the Longhorns…that’s just a fact.

It’s also a fact that there was a false start on Alabama’s first touchdown that the refs didn’t call.  Go back and watch it, and keep an eye on Terrence Cody.  He rocks before the play starts and they missed it.  The officiating in that game was suspect, as it seems to have been all season in Alabama games.  Again, not making excuses for the Longhorns.  These are just facts.

4.  The Texas coaching staff absolutely did not earn their pay in that game.  I know it’s never easy when your two-time Heisman-nominated QB goes down, but the coaching staff flat-out froze in that game.  They showed no faith in Garret Gilbert, running predictable running play after predictable running play, making it easy for Alabama to bunch the line of scrimmage and forcing Gilbert to throw on a third and 12 and a third and 15 in the first half.  Before D.J. Monroe broke a 28-yard run on an end around, Texas ran eight running plays, mostly up the middle, for a total of only 22 yards.  They gave Gilbert no chance in the first half.  But, what’s more, when you saw him on the sidelines he was all by himself.  Nobody coaching him up, encouraging him or even making him feel like he was so much as a part of the team.  They treated him like a pitcher working on a no-hitter in the 8th.

And that was just the most egregious of the mistakes by the coaching staff.  The shovel pass at the end of the first half was a bad call.  They rugby punted with Justin Tucker when they should have been punting it straight and they punted it straight with John Gold when they should have been rugby punting.  Their whole strategy was backwards.  I spent the entire night wondering what Texas could possibly be paying these guys huge sums of money for.  That performance was an embarrassment.

5.  Even with all the losses on defense and offense, Texas will be right back next year with Gilbert.  His 37.5 completion percentage, four interceptions and a fumble, and 73 QB rating is hardly exemplary.  But he showed resilience getting his team back into the game in a hopeless situation.  He fought and showed flashes of brilliance even as his wide receivers let him down repeatedly with numerous dropped passes, including ones on third downs and one in the end zone, all of which could have completely changed the complexion of the game.  Gilbert showed some guts that night, and I think Texas fans will be very happy with what he produces these next three years.

Written by Austin Swafford

January 12, 2010 at 9:00 am

College Football News: ‘Bama, Florida players leave early for draft

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ESPN.com reported today that much-ballyhooed Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain will forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

McClain skips senior year for draft

Three Florida Gators also announced they will enter the draft early.  Defensive end Carlos Dunlap, safety Major Wright and center Maurkice Pouncey announced Monday that they will leave early.  They join two other Gators who already announced their intentions to leave early for the draft: cornerback Joe Haden and tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Three Gators enter NFL draft

Written by Austin Swafford

January 11, 2010 at 11:16 pm

College Football News: Texas Tech has new head coach; USC appears to need one

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Texas Tech reportedly announced today that they have their successor to Mike Leach.  Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville reportedly signed a five-year deal worth about $2 million a year.  Color me surprised that they did not appoint interim coach Ruffin McNeill to the permanent post after he handled the Leach firing with poise and led his team to a huge Alamo Bowl victory.

Tuberville named to coach Red Raiders

In more baffling college coaching news, the Seahawks have reportedly worked out a deal to bring in USC coach Pete Carroll.  Why Carroll would leave USC (where he’s been highly successful and worshipped by fans and media alike) for the NFL (where he was anything but successful or beloved) is beyond me.  Especially for an entirely unenticing job like the Seahawks. 

Look at their roster and tell me you’d take that job.  I dare you.

At any rate, looks like the Trojans will be on the look out for their new head coach.  Possible upgrade for Mike Leach?  Hmmmm…

Sources: Seattle, Carroll agree on deal

Written by Austin Swafford

January 9, 2010 at 7:51 pm

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