If Not Now, When? Comment Count

Brian January 13th, 2010 at 2:36 PM

napoleon-at-waterloo lane-kiffin-idiot

I posted about this on The Sporting Blog so this is going to be a rehash, but since this is the Leno-Conan tiff of college football right now I haven't thought about much else: holy crap in a hat, USC hired Lane Kiffin.

There are a thousand different ways in which that statement can be taken: wow, what a snake. Wow, Al Davis was right. Wow, even Charlie Weis shot down USC. Wow, I love hot dogs. In all ways the hire makes no sense, and the rest of the blogosphere is busily examining all of these angles plus dongs on a rock. Last night I had the same giddy reaction that the rest of the universe did. USC hired a guy who rose through the ranks thanks to nepotism and has time and again proven himself an idiot of the highest order. Woo.

Today, though, I'm bothered. That USC had to stoop so low as to grab Kiffin indicates the coming sanctions are harsh, but taking Orgeron and maybe picking off Chow and the thing stuck in my craw indicate that maybe USC is going to get off easy. The thing that is currently stuck in my craw is the thing I had to resort to all caps to properly express over at TSB:

LANE KIFFIN WAS THE OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR AND RECRUITING COORDINATOR WHEN REGGIE BUSH WAS ON THE TAKE AND JOE MCKNIGHT COMMITTED TO USC. USC is hiring one of the guys—possibly the guy—who was most responsible for the NCAA coming down on the program.

Can this be interpreted as anything other than a taunt? USC is going to get penalized in two different sports in February. They've fired one coach for directly paying a runner and lost another because he managed to ignore agents in his locker room. And they bring in Lane Freakin' Kiffin, a guy who

  • has racked up seven or eight very public secondary violations in one a year at Tennessee
  • is currently under investigation for employing Tennessee undergrads as a sort of USO show from sea to shining sea
  • pursued and acquired Bryce Brown when his recruitment and sketchy AAU-style handler became too much for Miami, which I remind you is Miami

argh… Spock… herecomethe… ALLCAPS


USC is getting hit with football violations and they have just hired the guy most directly responsible for those violations occurring as their head coach. He is bringing Ed Orgeron and possibly Norm Chow back with him, giving USC more than one coach who had full knowledge of the shenanigans going down in LA and did zero to stop it.

USC has just double-dog-dared the NCAA to do something meaningful. They've thrown away the idea of contrition in favor of defiance. They are saying yes, we have had three separate incidents in two sports in a matter of years, but this is not a lack of institutional control. It is the institution. Insofar as we can, we cheat.

This is the NCAA's Waterloo. If USC does not suffer severe repercussions that make it all but impossible for them to compete on a national level for five years in both major sports, the idea that the rules mean anything is over.



January 13th, 2010 at 3:04 PM ^

Brian Cook: Garrett, what is the point? Look, we all know who is at fault here, what the fuck are you talking about?
USC Athletic Director Mike Garrett: Huh? No, what the fuck are you... I'm not... We're talking about unchecked power of the NCAA here, dude.
The Average American: What the fuck is he talking about?
Brian Cook: NCAA regulations and rules.
Garrett: Forget it, Joe Six Pack, you're out of your element!
Brian Cook: Garrett, the coordinator who violated the rules, I can't go fire him for you, so what the fuck are you talking about?
Garrett: What the fuck are you talking about? The coordinator is not the issue here, Brian. I'm talking about drawing a line in the sand, Brian. Across this line, you DO NOT... Also, Brian, coordinator is not the preferred nomenclature. Head coach of USC, please.
Brian Cook: Walter, this isn't a guy who built the USC Championship dynast. This is a guy...
Garrett: What the fuck are you...?
Brian Cook: Garrett, he pissed on the NCAA rulebook!
The Average American: He peed on the NCAA rulebook.
Garrett: Random American puissant, you're out of your element! Brian, Kiffin is not the issue here!


January 13th, 2010 at 2:48 PM ^

If the NCAA doesn't come down hard on USC, other programs will be right behind them in laughing off the rules to do what they want. Rules mean nothing without repercussions for breaking them. The NCAA needs to show some bite.


January 13th, 2010 at 3:01 PM ^

Time to end the double standard that exists between coaches and players. Should a coach plan on leaving a school prior to the end of his contract, he should be forced to wait a year before he can coach again.

As flaky as some of the HS kids are, it is simply unfair to them for coaches to quit in the middle of a contract. It is equally unfair to the programs who get dumped on a few weeks before national signing day.


January 13th, 2010 at 3:29 PM ^

Not being totally naive, I recognize that college football is a business. But is also a about young kids.

If I were a Cincinnati fan or a WVU fan, I would have been up in arms when their coaches left between the end of the regular season and a BCS bowl game. How about if you were a kid who just traveled to Tennessee to start classes early to play for a coach who just quit on you or your program.

Because I am a Michigan fan, I really stuck my head in the sand when RichRod came on board and only looked at how his hiring would help Michigan. In retrospect, I stand by what I just said, namely, that a double standard shouldn't exist. I don't think it bodes well when a contract, in theory a binding agreement between parties, is routinely treated as if it had no meaning.


January 13th, 2010 at 3:43 PM ^

By that rationale, no school should ever be allowed to fire a coach before his contract expires either. Also, how would you fill vacant coaching positions? Just about anyone who could/would be hired in football is currently coaching somewhere else.

The LOI/scholarship agreement is also a contract of sorts. It is a contract between the school and the player, not the coach and the player. I think most kids are smart enough to realize that coaches get fired and change jobs all the time (I'm sure there were some pissed off kids at ND who signed up to play for Charlie Weis) and that there are no guarantees that they will be playing for the same coach they signed up to play for in 4-5 years.


January 13th, 2010 at 4:17 PM ^

I wouldn't really have a problem with the rule, but I think kids who want to leave will leave regardless of the rule (we saw that when Rodriguez came on board). I guess I would just rather see kids decide based on the school they want to go to and take into consideration the very real possibility that the coaching staff they're committing to won't be around by the time they graduate (though I realize this can be tough to do with every coach blowing smoke up your ass that he is staying forever).


January 13th, 2010 at 3:44 PM ^

Do you think universities should honor their end of contracts? Lane paid the piper ($800,000.00 I believe) to leave and honored his end and took his dream job just like universities pay buyouts and move on to what they believe to be greener pastures all the time. It sucks that the kids lose out but that's the way it is.

Blue Balls

January 13th, 2010 at 3:04 PM ^

if the NCAA has a pair. I blogged earlier that hiring Kiffin as their HC was like pissing in the NCAA's face. I had totally forgotten that Lane Kiffin was at USC during the Reggie Busch-Joe McKnight scandel. With this information-are you kidding me? Bravo-Brian nice job!


January 13th, 2010 at 3:05 PM ^

Since you again overstate the role of anyone at USC with respect to Reggie Bush and Joe McKnight (who I might add was immediately suspended and essentially booted from the university) being "on the take", I'd like to know what the university or athletic department should have done to discover and snuff out this behavior.

Audit the financial records and investigate the living situation of every family member of every player on the team? Find out what kind of car every girl who is rumored to have banged a USC football player is driving and investigate whose name the car is registered in and who is making the payments?

The holier-than-thou whining about USC is getting ridiculous. Did Michigan football deserve to be made non-competitive for five years when the exact same situation arose with Marion Darnell Jones and Charles Woodson (at the exact same time Ed Martin was bankrolling UM basketball)? They didn't and they weren't. Let's please stop crying about how every single good team in America must be a bunch of dirty cheaters and worry about getting Michigan football back on top.

matty blue

January 13th, 2010 at 4:42 PM ^

...nobody is asking athletic departments to hire private investigators to check the vehicles and living situations of every relative of every recruit. i don't think it's too crazy, however, to ask that coaching staffs be aware of things that anyone with two good eyes in their head can see. you can't tell me that steve fisher didn't know SOMETHING was going on.

real, legitimate ignorance of specifics are one thing. an active and willful "i don't want to know" attitude is entirely different.


January 13th, 2010 at 4:48 PM ^

Most of this stems from Reggie Bush's family allegedly living in a house rent free. Without going to that house 150 miles away, investigating the owner of the house and what sort of rental payments the Bush family was/did make, USC would have had no knowledge of what was going on.

I was on the USC campus at the same time Bush was and he didn't look any different from any other student athlete. Were the coaches supposed to ask for receipts for every article of clothing he wore?

Please tell me what sort of obvious suspicious activity the coaches should have been aware of.

McKnight allegedly drove his girlfriend's car, a car that is in her boss's name but that she was supposedly making payments on. Without investigating McKnight's girlfriend, how was USC supposed to know something fishy may have been going on?

Again, please tell me what sort of obviously suspicious activity was going on that the football coaches and administrators at USC should have known about.


January 13th, 2010 at 6:26 PM ^

Should have known that Reggie Bush was receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in improper benefits because that's part of their job. I don't know how easy or hard that is, but that's the system that they knew they were working under. This isn't some sort of ex post facto law--the athletic departments are supposed to regulate their programs and prevent their players from having contact with people who give them hundreds of thousands of dollars under the table. If they fail to do so, they're punished.

Pointing this out is not demonstrating some sort of lack of worldliness, it's not implying that the program we root for is clean, and it's not actually even implying any support for the system that college athletes, coaches, and administrators currently work under. It's simply an observation about how the system is supposed to work.

And the comment about the ESPN.com audition is rude and unjustified.


January 13th, 2010 at 10:59 PM ^

Not to belabor the point but based on this question:

"Again, please tell me what sort of obviously suspicious activity was going on that the football coaches and administrators at USC should have known about."

There is this ‘oversight’ by the USC administration (link here http://bit.ly/7OfouE):

"USC asks its athletes to provide written documentation about the vehicles they drive on campus. McKnight said Wednesday that he had not provided the school information on the Land Rover because he hadn't driven it.

However, Todd Dickey, USC's senior vice president for administration, said Friday that McKnight did provide the school with written documentation that he was driving the vehicle. Tim Tessalone, USC's sports information director, said the running back had been "mistaken" in his account to The Times. Tessalone declined a request to see the documentation or say when the information was filed."

We’ll see how it plays out.

(forgive the formatting...)


January 14th, 2010 at 12:44 AM ^

Apparently there was a system in place to document what cars people were driving. When information surfaced that some sort of shady arrangement might be in place, McKnight was immediately suspended and made persona non grata on the SC campus. I don't know what if any reasonable steps (i.e. steps any other program would take) could have been taken to investigate the registered owner of the car his baby momma was driving and who her employer was (if she is just driving a company owned car there is no violation unless the car is merely an enticement to sign McKnight). The investigation up to this point has essentially all been about Bush (this is only the second extra benefits allegation to come forward despite half a decade of intense reporting/scrutiny). This is pretty much after the fact and it seems like SC took pretty prompt action in this McKnight case.

I can only imagine the kinds of stories that would come out if the Freep set up this kind of sting operation around Schembechler Hall.

Also, assuming something shady was going on, this "sports marketing entrepreneur" was a moron because Joe McKnight isn't going to make dick in the NFL. Bad investment, buddy.

matty blue

January 14th, 2010 at 5:58 AM ^

...have little to do with what people thought about his nfl prospects coming out of high school. that's what we're talking about, right?

marcus liberty and chris mills were middling nba prospects by the time they left college, but seemed to be superstars in the making as 18-year-old high school seniors. that's why schools committed recruiting violations trying to get them on campus.


January 14th, 2010 at 12:25 PM ^

This is the perception problem. None of these violations have anything to do with USC or getting guys to come to USC. This car was purchased in September of 2009, the beginning of McKnight's junior year. Just like in the Woodson case, the people allegedly giving out the benefits aren't trying to get guys on campus but rather to sign them up once they turn pro.


January 14th, 2010 at 3:20 PM ^

Despite a half decade of close scrutiny and investigation by news organizations like Yahoo! and a sting/surveillance operation by the LA Times, there is ZERO evidence that the USC coaching staff had any connection with the people alleged to have given benefits to Bush and McKnight (who both received said benefits long after enrolling at USC). The guy who owned McKnight's baby momma's car is a Washington alum. There are no phone calls from the athletic department or prior relationships with members of the coaching staff like in the Ed Martin case.

I'm sorry that by failing to invent facts and make wild unsubstantiated assumptions about a football program simply because they win games that I am "being a simpleton."

matty blue

January 14th, 2010 at 3:47 PM ^

..."evidence" that a coaching staff has "connection" to people "alleged" to have given benefits.

i don't think you're being a simpleton, but i do think you're being willfully obtuse. there is a great deal of real, live evidence that bush and mcknight received improper benefits while at usc. you can choose to parse that however you wish.

many of us see it as a lack of institutional control - a charge that apparently does not rise to the level of "evidence" in your mind, but one that the ncaa has used repeatedly and effectively in cases very similar to this one.


January 14th, 2010 at 4:05 PM ^

I'm not disputing that Bush/McKnight almost certainly received benefits and should have been ineligible. The issue for the NCAA is whether USC knew or should have known about it. They are investigating to determine if this is the case, and only if it is would USC be found guilty of having a "lack of institutional control." As of right now there is zero evidence that coaches did in fact know what was going on (if there were then we are talking about a very different story in which case MAJOR sanctions would be in order, as they were in the case of UM basketball).

If you have some suggestion regarding what specific controls could/should have been in place to discover and prevent this kind of behavior (with respect to Bush/McKnight) I would be all ears. I personally can come up with no ideas that don't require massive, intrusive, and costly investigations into the lives, activities, and financial dealings of everyone who knows any athlete on any college campus (something Misopogon referred to in a post further down in this chain). It took an LA Times sting operation and in depth investigation of all parties involved to reveal the alleged benefits McKnight received (through his girlfriend). When this was discovered, McKnight was immediately suspended and "decided" to turn pro (he was universally assumed to be coming back and had said as much prior to his suspension).

Also, as I've pointed out in other posts, UM football had a very similar situation arise with Charles Woodson and I don't/didn't see anyone clamoring for sanctions or making negative assumptions about the integrity of the coaches who were on staff at the time it happened.

Six Zero

January 13th, 2010 at 3:06 PM ^

there's some kind of storm brewing on the horizon for the entire recruiting process, if not college football as a whole?

The levels of ludicrous have skyrocketed so high this year that grandmothers in Kenya even know a thing or two about who's tweeting Seantrel Henderson this week.

The world is getting too much knowledge of this whole mess of college football's livestock market, and it's becoming less about the Sports Section and more about the National News page. Or maybe even Business.

Oh, and I think Kiffin is one slimy jerk.


January 13th, 2010 at 3:12 PM ^

I'm just waiting on the banhammer to fall on USC. If it doesn't, we can still hope that Lane Kiffin will epically fail as a HC, even though that' probably won't happen given Norm Chow is his OC and Monte is his DC, with Ed Ogeron as his recruiting wildebeast.


January 13th, 2010 at 3:18 PM ^

Honestly, for me, and I'm guessing for a lot of people, the idea that the rules mean anything ended, oh, about the same time the guy who thought putting Boney on Elba was a good idea lost his job.


January 13th, 2010 at 3:42 PM ^

I am not sure how accurate that is. The story is really just based off some stuff Charlie Casserly said on TV (not really a college football journalist with any connections/contacts I can think of) that was then picked up by a few bloggers. I've seen no mention of it from any USC press sources (and Scott Wolf loves to print that sort of stuff, a'la Rosenberg).


January 13th, 2010 at 3:41 PM ^

you are a loyalist and true Michigan man. Your writing is on target. But right now you have no idea what the NCAA is going to do nor even all the facts (a la Rich Rod and the West Virginia shredder).

Write this post after the NCAA rules, as necessary.

And no, I don't give a shit about USC.


January 13th, 2010 at 3:46 PM ^

Last time I checked, we are also currently under investigation by the NCAA. No, the violations don't seem major, but damnit, could we please just not tempt fate for a while? If we come out of said investigation unscathed, I say we should have a ticker tape parade with "LOLUSC" signs that leads to a celebratory bonfire on the diag, complete with bongos and the spoon/washboard guy. Until then, I vote that we leave Karma alone.