So much for Southern California hospitality.
Just in time for Norm Chow’s return to the Coliseum as Hawaii’s head coach, USC Coach Lane Kiffin confirmed Thursday that USC would no longer make the stadium available to visiting teams for walk-throughs the day before games.
“It shouldn’t be a big deal,” Kiffin said. “We don’t go to other people’s stadiums.”
Schools customarily make their stadiums available to visiting teams for walk-throughs.
Alabama, the defending national champion, allows walk-throughs, a school spokesman confirmed. And UCLA went through a walk-through at Rice Stadium on Wednesday in preparation for Thursday night’s opener.
Former USC coach Pete Carroll relished walk-throughs as an opportunity to acclimate players to unfamiliar surroundings and also to have some fun.
But since Kiffin became USC’s coach in 2010, he has chosen not to do walk-throughs on the road, saying he wants players to conserve energy for the game.
Kiffin said the decision to cut off access to the Coliseum was “solely based” on preserving the field.
The Trojans held last week’s mock game on their campus practice field rather than the Coliseum for the same reason, Kiffin said.
“We put a lot of resources into that field and what I’m hoping is that our fans are going to see the best that field has ever looked,” Kiffin said. “The problem with walk-throughs ... you tear it up because people put cleats on and go on there.”
But couldn’t USC stipulate that visitors wear turf shoes or running shoes for the walk-through?
“Yeah,” he said, “but how would we control that?”
Kiffin said other schools have cut off access for walk-throughs, but he declined to identify them.
“I don’t want to start getting into names,” he said.
Reserve linebacker Simione Vehikite, who served about 3 1/2 months of a one-year jail sentence for his role in a 2011 automobile accident, practiced for a second day.
Kiffin said Vehikite’s scholarship remained intact.
“Simi has done everything, fulfilling his obligations to the team to get back, been through a lot, has filled all of his legal obligations as well and so he’s back part of our team,” Kiffin said.
Kiffin said that Vehikite, a fourth-year junior, passed 20 units in the spring semester when he was suspended from team activities and that he was close to graduating.
In May, Vehikite pleaded no contest to felony counts of leaving the scene of an accident and driving with a .08% blood-alcohol level and causing injury. As a condition of three years of felony probation, he was ordered to serve a year in county jail. He also was ordered to pay restitution to the victim in the accident and to complete a county morgue program and alcohol counseling.
USC did not make Vehikite available for comment.
Asked if he planned to watch specific college football games over the next few days, Kiffin quipped, “Not really. I don’t have to now that I don’t vote.”