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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.

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Written by Austin Swafford

February 6, 2010 at 9:48 am

Posted in Commentary

2 Responses

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  1. Parents really should protect their children for unscrupulous coaches but unfortunately some parents don’t have the integrity or possibly the intelligence necessary. The NCAA has to step in to protect these children.

    Pam

    February 8, 2010 at 10:25 am

    • I agree. They have all kinds of rules about when they can talk to high school kids and what they can do to recruit them. I would think the restrictions would be even tighter on kids who aren’t in high school yet. Maybe this story will help bring about some reform of the system.

      Austin Swafford

      February 8, 2010 at 10:40 am


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