NCF Nation: Tennesse Volunteers

Another player bolts USC

July, 7, 2010
Redshirt freshman safety Byron Moore is leaving USC for a junior college, reported.

Moore was listed No. 2 on the post-spring depth chart behind Jawanza Starling.

Moore will have to sit out a year before transferring to another FBS program. As a freshman, he's not eligible to take advantage of the NCAA waver that allows Trojans juniors and seniors to transfer to another program and be eligible to play this fall.

Moore is the third player to opt to transfer after the program was hit with NCAA sanctions, joining linebacker Jordan Campbell (Louisville) and defensive end Malik Jackson (Tennessee). Also, the Trojans released touted offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson from his scholarship commitment, and linebacker signee Glen Stanley reportedly also wants a release.
1. New Tennessee Volunteers coach Derek Dooley said Saturday that the Vols “have a lot of work to do on special teams. I wish we had 15 more practices.” Tennessee finished 79th and 85th in punt and kickoff return defense, respectively. In the Not-a-Coincidence Deptartment, USC coach Lane Kiffin told the Los Angeles Times that he learned by watching Florida that he should play more front-line players on special teams.

2. TCU Horned Frogs, which will be expected to repeat its top-10 status, will play six home games. However, two of its “away” games are a few miles down I-30. The Horned Frogs will open the season against Oregon State at Cowboys Stadium. Three weeks later, TCU will play SMU in Dallas. Seven of the Horned Frogs’ first eight games are local. Too much of a good thing? That MWC showdown at Utah on Nov. 6 looms large.

3. In the Miami Hurricanes spring game, the teams not only scored points in the traditional way, but offenses scored a point for a first down and for crossing the 50-yard line. Defenses earned one point for a three-and-out and two points for turnovers. How true to the game is this scoring system? I went back to the 2005 “Bush Push” game. Final score: USC 34, Notre Dame 31. By the system that Miami used, the Irish won, 74-69.
In his first meeting with reporters as USC's head football coach, Lane Kiffin embraced the idea of providing a strong connection to the Trojans dynastic Pete Carroll Era, but he probably should have torn a page from Carroll's news conference playbook.

The filibuster.

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireLane Kiffin faced a lot of tough questions in his first meeting with reporters as USC's new head coach.
When Carroll met with reporters this week to explain his decision to bail on the Trojans and head north for the Seattle Seahawks, he rambled for the first 20 minutes of a 30-minute news conference in order to limit his exposure to tough questions.

Kiffin didn't do that. And he got grilled by pointed inquiries about his coaching résumé, USC's potential NCAA issues, his abrupt departure from Tennessee and about whether his assistant, Ed Orgeron, tried to lure previously committed Vols recruits to USC.

There will be a diversity of opinion about how he competed with the big-city reportorial crew. In the interest of giving the new guy a break, let's call it a draw. That's a win for USC, because after Kiffin bailed on Tennessee after just one season, the consensus reaction outside of Heritage Hall was he was an amoral opportunist whose rise through the coaching ranks before he even turned 35 is almost inexplicable.

Yet Kiffin made a reasonable point about the national hullabaloo as well as the emotional explosion of Tennessee students, who took a break from studying and hit the streets Tuesday night to burn mattresses and chant obscenities, eventually requiring a police presence to keep them from rioting because they'd learned Kiffin was pursuing what he called his "dream job."

"If they weren't upset that we were leaving, then we weren't doing anything right," he said.

What folks who regularly attend games in the biggest stadium in the SEC hate to hear is the fundamental reason Kiffin headed West.

"This is the No. 1 job in America," he said.

First order of business for USC fans: What about Norm Chow?

Kiffin left that open because talks are ongoing with Chow, who is presently -- oh, boy! -- UCLA's offensive coordinator.

"We won't get into any names out of respect for other colleges," Kiffin said.

Wait. Forget Chow for a moment. What's up with talk of respect? Didn't Kiffin trash talk other SEC programs from his first day as Tennessee's coach?

"We have great respect for every coach and every team in this conference," he said about his return to the Pac-10.

Come again? Why not stir things up like he did at Tennessee?

He explained, "We don't need to go out and create energy about our program. We don't need to grab attention."

Hmm. Let's see how long his new-found diplomacy lasts.

As for Chow, Kiffin said he doesn't have hard feelings about how things went down after the 2004 season, when Chow left in a huff for the Tennessee Titans, feeling he was being marginalized by Carroll, Kiffin and fellow offensive assistant Steve Sarkisian, now the head coach at Washington.

"I think the world of Norm," Kiffin said. "I don't have any issues with him."

He might have one. When asked if he planned to call plays for the offense, he said, "That would be my guess because that is what I've always done.'

Hard to believe that won't be an issue for Chow, as it was when Carroll asked him to surrender play-calling duties to Sarkisian and Kiffin.

Beyond Chow, Kiffin anticipated the next line of question: His rogue reputation and USC's present issues with the NCAA.

"The No. 1 thing we're going to do is have a dedication to running a clean and disciplined program," he said in his introductory comments.

When asked about potential NCAA sanctions for USC due to the Reggie Bush investigation, he said, "I feel very confident that it will not effect the recruiting and will get resolved."

He was repeatedly asked about allegations Orgeron immediately called Tennessee recruits to try to convince them to go to USC. Kiffin repeatedly denied any wrong-doing, though it was impossible to understand the substance of what degenerated into a few minutes of "did-not, did-to" during the news conference.

He did provide his policy for trying to lure Tennessee recruits to USC: "I will not be calling them unless they call us," he said.

Kiffin was more excited to talk about recruiting in general. He and Orgeron are generally regarded as two of the nation's best recruiters.

It's clear that Kiffin believes USC should continue to recruit nationally.

"We will be able to go anywhere in the country to get the best players and bring them here," he said.

Kiffin called USC "a perfect fit." He called it "home."

While USC is his third head coaching job in 17 months, he said he doesn't expect to be uprooting again anytime soon.

"I'm at the best place in America -- there's nowhere for me to go," he said.

Pac-10 power rankings

September, 21, 2009
Posted by's Ted Miller

Cal steps to the fore. UCLA and Washington make a big leap. Arizona State could go from No. 9 to the top third if it wins at Georgia on Saturday. Conference games figure to churn things up this weekend.

1. California: Ah, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. The Bears, now the Pac-10's only top-10 team, ended a four-game road losing streak with a solid performance against a solid Minnesota team, but a visit to Oregon awaits. The Bears have beaten the Ducks three in a row, including a classic in Autzen Stadium in 2007.

2. USC: The Trojans are looking up in the standings after losing 16-13 at Washington, but we're not prepared to write them off. See, they do this every year -- lose to an unranked Pac-10 foe on the road. Wonder, as in most years, if folks will be calling the Trojans the best team in the nation by season's end? Also curious to see if Trojans are flat -- or furious -- vs. Washington State.

3. UCLA: So the Bruins handled a Tennessee team out for revenge in workmanlike fashion, and Tennessee pushed a homestanding No. 1 Florida squad that was hungry to embarrass the Vols so hard that most folks are calling it a moral victory. Why isn't anyone saying, "Perhaps we should re-evaluate UCLA?" Or, "Why is a 3-0 UCLA squad that has physically dominated two BCS conference foes still not ranked?" (And who voted for 2-1 Nebraska, which has wins over Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State?)

4. Oregon: Chip Kelly took a lot of crud for the debacle at Boise State. Maybe some of it was fair. But what do we say about a team that has yanked itself up by its bootstraps and is finding ways to win, even if those ways and wins aren't exactly beautiful? We say, "Good job." Now all Kelly has to do is beat Cal and all is forgiven among the Ducks faithful.

5. Washington: Want to thank the Huskies fans who didn't trample me -- great photo -- while I was trying to post from the track at Husky Stadium -- a track, by the way, that should be removed when Huskies fans start to pony up cash for a much-needed stadium renovation. You know, so all those marquee recruits who are soon to arrive will have a nice place to play. Oh, and the present Huskies? The 24th ranked Huskies! Stanford is eager to turn your grins upside down this weekend.

6. Oregon State: The Beavers had their chances against Cincinnati. And they may have been jobbed on a no-fumble call. But it's clear they are also working through some issues, particularly on the offensive line. The offense isn't clicking and the defense isn't disruptive. The showdown with Arizona is critical for both team's conference aspirations because they seem to be vying for the same spot of territory in the pecking order.

7. Arizona: The Wildcats offense is going to have to reinvent itself without tight end Rob Gronkowski, and it's unclear how things will go at quarterback because the passing game isn't working. The visit to Oregon State could be telling about the ultimate trajectory this season.

8. Stanford: Defensive end Tom Keiser (three sacks), Chris Owusu (94-yard kick return for a TD) and Toby Gerhart (113 yards rushing) keyed a sloppy (four turnovers) blowout win over San Jose State. Who would have thought that Washington's visit Saturday could feel like such a big game?

9. Arizona State: The Sun Devils are 2-0 and unchallenged. That will change at Georgia. The defense looks up to the test. The question remains the offense.

10. Washington State: The Cougars were dominated statistically by SMU and won in large part because of two long interception returns for touchdowns, but is anyone going to begrudge the Cougs some good fortune? Coming back from a 24-7 third quarter deficit to win 30-27 in overtime shows there's no quit in Pullman.