Thursday, July 29, 2010
USC-related highlights from Pac-10 media day
By Pedro Moura
PASADENA, Calif. -- We've got plenty of notes and quotes from today's scorching media day event at the Rose Bowl. While Lane Kiffin and Matt Barkley were not the last pair to take the podium -- for the first time in a long time -- they were certainly the center of attention for much of the day. In this post we'll have comments from both Kiffin and Barkley plus thoughts on the Trojans from a number of opposing coaches and players.
For more on media day, check out our "What we learned" post coming soon. In the meantime, let's get to it. First, the two Trojans and what they had to say:
- Almost as soon as he stepped to the stage and began to speak, Kiffin addressed the Kennedy Pola situation -- briefly, of course, and all he really said was that he could not talk about the actual lawsuit. Of course, Kiffin was asked about the issue many, many times as the day wore on. His response came out pretty much the same way each time, although he did make an intriguing remark about the nature of the case. Asked why he thought the Titans decided to sue, he said: "I think it has to do with the location of the team that's in the lawsuit." Kiffin also later said that USC's new athletic director, Pat Haden, "wasn't pleased" with the lawsuit. "Neither was I," Kiffin said.
- Talk amongst fans and media members about USC's limited amount of scholarship players at its disposal has continued to mount in recent weeks. Kiffin attacked that topic during his presser Thursday. “Our numbers will be down – we’ll have 71 scholarship players instead of 85,” Kiffin said. “Depth, in general, is going to be an issue for us. So we have to be extremely smart and intelligent about the way that we practice, about the way that we handle our guys. On that note, the phrase "it's us against the world" was uttered at least twice by both Kiffin and Barkley -- as in, an us-against-the-world mentality, an attitude that would have been completely out of place at USC over the last decade.
- Barkley, on heading into his sophomore season as a season sharper and better prepared because of his experience starting 12 games a season ago: "Last year, the year that I had, the game time experience was able to help more than any practice or film session ever could."
- More Barkley, on the true personality of Kiffin and whether the Trojans know their coach inside-out:"We know who he is. He’s not what people make him out to be, like some betrayer. I do believe he’s a loyal Trojan."
- Even more Barkley, on if he thought Kiffin's decision to declare every position an open battle at the start of spring practice was a good one: "I think one of the greatest things he could've done is open up the competition between Mitch and I. More than anything, it made me a better quarterback. And I noticed a change in Mitch's play this offseason as well. People can say what they want about Coach Carroll but I think Coach Kiffin -- with every position open and taking nothing for granted -- really made me improve my game a lot this offseason.
- Receiver Brandon Carswell will stay at USC, Kiffin confirmed. A redshirt junior, Carswell flirted with the idea of transferring to Cincinnati -- even tweeting that he had made his decision at one point -- but ultimately decided to come back. Why? Kiffin said that he "begged" him to stay, offering the suggestion that Carswell stay for this season, obtain his degree and wait to see how much playing time he gets in the USC receiving corps in 2010, then decide whether to stay for his senior season in 2011 based on that.
- The other reported transfer at receiver, Travon Patterson, is indeed gone. Kiffin confirmed that Patterson had already submitted his papers to USC and said he believed Patterson was already working out at Colorado, his new school. And why did juco linebacker Glen Stanley hire an attorney to get him out of his signed letter of intent with USC? "I don't know," Kiffin said. "I don't know why he hired an attorney given the situation. But we wish him the best of luck."
And, now, comments and quotes on USC from a few of the 18 other Pac-10 coaches and players in attendance:
- UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, on dealing with USC's sanctions: "Truthfully we can’t take any time to worry about that. We’re on a mission to be the best program we can be." Later, he added more context: "Is there a window of opportunity? Certainly, and we want to take advantage of that."
- Cal linebacker Mike Mohamed, a first-team All-Pac-10 player a year ago as a junior, was asked how it would feel to have his team receive a two-year bowl ban and the other sanctions the Trojans received: "It’s definitely tough for the players, especially when all this is coming down on them who had no part in it all," he said. " I definitely feel for the players -- it’s definitely tough."
- The word "parity" made more than a few appearances in the coach-speak of the day, including in this line from Cal coach Jeff Tedford, explaining how he expects the teams to finish come the end of the season: "I think there’s a lot of parity in this conference, and not just because of what’s happening at USC and Oregon."
And, lastly, the quote of the day from Kiffin, in response to whether it was difficult to keep his players' morale up as he saw several players choose to transfer in the weeks since the sanctions were released:
"The difficult thing was, with these sanctions -- and I don't know if this was part of why they did it, because it wasn't in the exact penalties, you just had to read a bylaw -- we created free agency in college football. So we've dealt with -- over the last month, however long it's been -- free agency that there's no salary cap on. Our players can leave at any time to go anywhere. They don't have to sit out; there's no penalty with it."