Unbuckling the mailbag:
Question: Is this really a big deal? One USC football player changing his number shouldn't warrant this much attention.
Answer: I'll grant you that one USC jersey swap against Colorado at the Coliseum is not as attention-warranting as say, Brandi Chastain taking her shirt off in a football stadium.
But I honestly don't know what Lane Kiffin is thinking sometimes. He seems incapable of existing without controversy, a trait that followed him to USC from the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee. Al Davis called him a flat-out liar and Southeastern Conference fans still loathe Kiffin almost as much as they do Neil Young's "Southern Man."
At Tennessee, Kiffin suggested he orchestrated stunts to drum up publicity, but he certainly doesn't need to do that in Los Angeles.
I like the fact Kiffin is creative. I even get the idea, sort of, of lining up in goofy formations to make other teams practice against it. Of course, USC has to waste time practicing it too, right? And the Trojans' percentage on those two-point conversions is not very good.
But swapping jersey numbers, during games, is crossing the line. And to do it against hapless Colorado seems so unnecessary.
Most refs wouldn't notice the change, and thus call the penalty, because players have helmets on their heads and USC players do not have names on their jerseys.
USC does not need trickery or deception to compete for national titles. It is not a mid-major looking for any kind of an edge against a superpower. USC is a superpower and recruits enough superior athletes to just line up and play people.
I'm going to need a scoreboard soon to keep count of the distractions Kiffin is creating for opponents versus the distractions he is creating for USC.
Q: Now we know why USC didn't pass at UW. It seems pretty apparent that the game plan at Washington was for Barkley and Woods to get their records at home. Is that too "conspiracy theory?"
A: You may be on to something! Look at this quote I found from Lane Kiffin: "We'd love for those guys to go and do that before their family and friends."
Unless Barkley and Woods have family and friends in Washington, it may have been the calculated plan to have USC risk its national title hopes by holding players back so they could break individual records against crummy Colorado.
Remember, there is no "I" in "team" or "Trojan" but there is in "Kiffin."
Q: Regarding USC, I must be missing something regarding their stellar play. All I can recall is one loss against the only remotely decent team they have played. Or are we to read something in a game against the mighty Buffs?
A: No need to go to lost and found. You're not missing anything. And the only thing people are reading into at Colorado is the fine print on coach Jon Embree's contract.
CHRIS DUFRESNE / COLLEGE FOOTBALL MAILBAG
Lane Kiffin of USC finds more controversy, by the numbers
Chris Dufresne takes time out (he gets three per half) each Friday during the season to answer questions on college football. Just in time for Halloween, this week's topics include masquerading players, teams and Wildcats.
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