Southern California head coach Lane Kiffin gestures during NCAA college football practice in Los Angeles, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012.
Grant Hindsley, Associated Press
When I opened my newspaper recently I saw this headline, “USC brushes off sanctions to be No. 1 in AP Top 25.” My first thought was Kiffin has brushed off nothing yet. USC was able to recruit 15 players in 2012, but actually the Trojans were able to get two more in January since they only had 23 come in 2011. Everyone else was allowed to recruit 25 players in 2012 to USC’s 17. How does being short 8 freshman hurt USC in 2012?
Lane Kiffin knows full well that he deliberately had USC appeal the severe recruiting sanctions for two years which allowed him to put off the 15 recruiting limit for two years. However, now USC has to pay the piper in 2012, 2013 and 2014 with only 15 recruits per year. Furthermore, they are allowed to have only 75 scholarship football players total during this three-year period. Since they finished last year with 80 players the Trojans should not have too much difficulty getting down to 75.
The real sanctions will kick in when USC’s 2012-2014 classes are the upper classmen on the football team. Watch for USC to start dropping off the map in 2014 at the earliest.
That brings me to my second point. Can Lane Kiffin learn anything from history? Listen to what he told the AP after hearing that USC was ranked #1 in the preseason college football poll. “To be handed down what they said could be a death penalty, could take USC 10 years to come back from, then to have this recognition and be preseason No. 1 is very exciting for our fans because a lot people thought two years ago that this would not be possible for USC.”
Did USC already win the national title in 2012? This reminds me of the time Kiffin said he was looking forward to singing “Rocky Top” after beating Florida in the upcoming game in 2009. Unfortunately, Florida pulled out that victory, and Kiffin was left saying that he was just trying to get attention to the Tennessee program with his comments. Arkansas native Bear Bryant once said, “I have tried to teach them to show class, to have pride, and to display character. I think football, winning games, takes care of itself if you do that.”
When I was growing up in Memphis I used to listen to Bear Bryant’s radio show and at the beginning of each year he would get lots of calls asking how good the team was going to be. Bear always answered the same way. He moaned and groaned about the whole team graduating the year before and only untested players were left.
The truth was very different. Bryant averaged playing 66 players per game at Alabama in the 197o’s, and he had lots of players with experience coming back almost every year. William F. Reed of Sports Illustrated noted in 1994, “Bryant didn’t invent poor-mouthing, but he elevated it to such an art that listeners would wink and smile at his dire pregame evaluations.”
Kiffin needs to take a page out of the Bear’s book and show some class and win the games on the field before you brag about your high preseason ranking.
Picture of Bear Bryant below.