Blame the Ref is a losing game for USC’s Lane Kiffin

Here I thought Pat Haden had a problem, with his football coach deciding to be a crybaby for Halloween.

But I’ve got a daughter at home wearing a Tim Tebow jersey and a wife who asks me what I think of her dressed as Pinkalicious.

I’d never heard of Pinkalicious, but there she was, dressed from pink shoes to the crown on her head with wings and a wand.

And I thought watching Tebow was frightening.

Pinkalicious apparently ate so many pink cupcakes she turned pink and, judging from the wife’s costume, put on so much weight her backside was as big as Mt. Baldy.

“How do I look?” the wife wanted to know.

“Fits you like a glove,” I said, and fortunately it was time for three more plays from Tebow before the Broncos had to punt again.

The daughter, meanwhile, having seen enough of Tebow — and haven’t we all — went to work dressed as a pig. As you can see, her efforts to find a husband remain a work in progress.


Now if I were Lane Kiffin and I had been summoned to the principal’s office to meet with Haden on Halloween morn, I would have come dressed as a referee. Maybe even a blind one.

He has that kind of sense of humor, but I’m not sure Haden does.

As you know by now, Kiffin reminded everyone he’s still capable of being immature, making sure everyone knows it was an official who lost Saturday’s game, and not USC.

“We should realize everybody gets bad calls and move on,” is how Haden put it when we chatted, which is what you would expect Haden to say.

But Kiffin whined Saturday night, then 24 hours later in a conference call with USC beat writers he continued to cry.

He even quoted his 2-year-old son, Knox, as knowing more than the officials.

The last two weeks have put USC back on the football map, and maybe you give Kiffin a pass for being emotional following three overtimes. But his second-day shots were too much.

“I agree,” Haden said.

Kiffin said, “I was basically lied to” by an official, and maybe he was, but as Knox could tell him, that’s still a no-no to say so.

The Pac-12 apparently agrees, hitting daddy with a $10,000 fine — Santa Claus a little poorer this year.

When you start calling officials liars, it also brings back those pop-off days we heard so much about while he was at Tennessee.

And up until now he’s done such a good job of making that seem so overblown. But who knows, maybe the win over Notre Dame has him feeling frisky again, and crying foul.

“I would disagree,” said Kiffin. “After the game I was just stating the facts like I do after every game.

“I moved on. It’s our 24-hour rule, just like the Notre Dame game and all the signs we put up saying it was time to move on. I moved on.”

So why continue to bellyache Sunday night in his weekly call with beat reporters?

“We moved on, but as head coach I have to respond to questions,” he said. “What do you want me to say?”

I would hope something worthy of a $10,000 fine and another Page 2 column, but the way USC goes, probably nothing inflammatory.

“Be careful what you wish for,” he said. “Next week when I get asked about Matt Barkley, I’ll say, ‘We’ve moved on.’ When I’m asked about the defense, I’ll say, ‘We’ve moved on.’ ”

Very mature.

Had officials penalized USC right tackle Kevin Graf for his blatant hold of a defender who was about to dismember Barkley on the final drive in regulation, there might not have been any timeout debate.

“What would Knox say if a USC player grabbed on to a Stanford player like that?”

“That’s a hold,” Kiffin said. “And I would agree.”

But there was no flag.

“I’m sure Stanford has its own list of plays it’s upset with,” Haden said. “It never does any coach any good to publicly complain about the officials. It should be done privately.”

More than that, Haden said, “It’s part of the game; live with it.”

I had a feeling listening to Haden he had already said as much to Kiffin.

“I think we have a fine coach,” Haden said. “We talked and he agrees; we’re finished talking about officials.”

Maybe so, but shouldn’t someone be talking about USC’s coaching blunder? Kiffin apparently had time to chat with an official before the final play; why not his players?

Did anyone tell Barkley to remind everyone to fall down if the play took too long?

“We do it all the time,” Kiffin said.

“No, did anyone do so on the final play?”

“No,” Kiffin said, “Because we do that when we have seven seconds. We will call the play and at the end we’ll say, ‘declare down,’ which means get down quickly.

“But this play took 7.4 seconds, so we still had time. I know because I timed it off the film.”

Yeah, he’s moved on, all right.