SEC: Pete Carroll
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin and his right-hand man, Ed Orgeron, know a thing or two about UCLA from their days on the Southern California staff.
It sounds like some rivalries never die.
Orgeron, appearing on Kiffin’s television show Sunday morning, said, “You will not find anybody else in the world that wants to beat UCLA more than Ed Orgeron and Lane Kiffin, so these boys better be ready. They’re going to find out what it is to prepare for a big game. And you know what? I think our guys are going to be ready for the outcome of last year. You can hear it in the locker room. I don’t think there needs to be any extra motivation to beat the Bruins.”
Kiffin, who’s gone out of his way lately not to stir up any controversy after his scorched earth approach soon after getting the job, was quick to point out that it was Orgeron making those comments.
“I didn’t say that. I read that. I don’t know. You’d have to ask him why he said that,” Kffin told reporters. “He’s never been very fond of their colors or their team. I remember a lot of pregame speeches from him.”
Kiffin was 5-1 against UCLA as an assistant at Southern California. The Bruins beat the Vols 27-24 in overtime last season in Los Angeles.
Speaking of a lack of fondness, Kiffin and UCLA offensive coordinator Norm Chow aren’t exactly what you would call old fishing buddies.
One of the main reasons Chow left Southern California following the Trojans’ blowout of Oklahoma to win the 2004 BCS national championship was because Pete Carroll wanted to give more of the play-calling responsibilities to Kiffin (and ultimately Steve Sarkisian).
Chow felt like he was being wedged out and already had a strained relationship with Kiffin, who was the young gun on the staff and the guy Carroll had pegged to take over the offense at some point.
So after making a run at the Stanford head-coaching job, Chow left USC to become the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans.
Should be interesting in Knoxville this Saturday.
Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News has a column Wednesday about Alabama's hiring of Joe Mendes as a consultant.
Nick Saban did so on the recommendation of Southern California coach Pete Carroll. Mendes' specialty is helping players make more informed decisions with regard to agents. Mendes has 25 years of NFL front-office experience.
Does Andre Smith come to mind?
I can tell you from meeting with Saban a couple of weeks ago that he's still bothered by that whole situation. Saban told me that agent education was still an area where Alabama wasn't quite up to speed, which explains Mendes' hiring.
Saban has never been one of those guys just to say something to be saying it. So when he says Alabama will pour its resources into the total development of the program and the total development of the players in that program, he means it.
He's also serious about finding a way to come down harder on the unscrupulous agents and runners that are a problem for every major program.
Saban, in vintage fashion, bristles whenever he talks about it.
"Everything in our program here is to get kids to be responsible for their own self determination, to be accountable, have discipline, don't expect something for nothing, do a day's work for a day's pay," Saban said. "Those are the values that we preach … and then some guy gives them a free ride and it's a problem. I'm mad at the guy.
"If you're doing what I want, then you don't give anybody a free ride because we're trying to teach guys that that's not real. That's not how it is. That's not going to help you be successful. Don't think you're going to get something for nothing. There is no such thing as something for nothing.
"Every agent is doing us a disservice and the kids a disservice by doing that stuff."
Hiring Mendes is a smart move by Saban and Alabama. At least they're trying.
But the reality is that you can't ensure that players (or their family members) are going to make smart decisions regardless of all the safeguards and education you put into place.
Not when somebody is waving a bunch of money in front of their faces when there hasn't been any money for the last 21 or 22 years.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Ever wondered what the night before national signing day is like for a prospect being coveted from the East Coast to the West Coast?
Alshon Jeffery knows all too well.
|Tom Hauck for ESPN.com|
|South Carolina recruit Alshon Jeffery's last few hours before signing day were intense.|
Jeffery, a 6-3, 220-pound receiver, was one of the Gamecocks' most prized recruits in a class that was ranked 12th nationally by Scouts Inc. He was ranked by Scouts Inc. as the No. 12 receiver prospect in the country.
Getting him was important on several different fronts for the Gamecocks. For one, he's the kind of playmaker on offense they desperately need. And two, he's from right down the road in St. Matthews, S.C. South Carolina kept most of the best players from the state at home this year, and landing Jeffery was a real coup.
He'd been committed to Southern California since last June, and the Trojans remained in it right up until the very end along with Tennessee.
And the end got a little crazy, to say the least.
Everybody knew that Jeffery had reopened his recruitment. Alabama tried to get in, and so did Florida. But he wasn't giving much away publicly. He didn't make his announcement until signing day in the Calhoun County High School gym.
The night before, he had a basketball game. His team just recently won its fourth straight state championship, and Jeffery scored 25 points in the title game.
On the eve of signing day, his football coach, Walter Wilson, sensed that Jeffery needed to get away from everything and took him to a hotel in nearby Orangeburg, S.C., to stay the night following his basketball game. Also there was one of Jeffery's high school teammates, Eric Mack, who will be one of the most highly recruited offensive linemen in the country next year.
"I knew I was going to South Carolina, and they knew," Jeffery said. "But I wasn't ready to say it until the next day."
There was obvious pressure for Jeffery to stay in state, but he said it never rose to the level of making him uncomfortable.
"It's just what I wanted to do, stay at home and help the home school," he said. "I started looking at it from all different angles and not just football."
There wasn't much sleep that night in the hotel. Jeffery said his last conversation with South Carolina assistant Shane Beamer, who was recruiting him for the Gamecocks, was around 12:45 a.m. But it was just getting started then.
He was still talking to coaches from Southern California and Tennessee until nearly 3 a.m.
"Alshon knew what he wanted," Wilson said. "He'd turned down a chance to take a visit to Florida late in the process, so I knew that South Carolina was where his heart was. But you sit there and listen to those coaches all work their angles, and you're like, 'I wouldn't want to be in this kid's shoes.'"
Wilson heard it all, too.
As Southern California's Pete Carroll and Tennessee's Lane Kiffin, along with their assistants, did their best to make a final pitch to Jeffery in the wee hours of that morning, Jeffery made sure their conversations were on speaker phone. Mack was sitting there listening, too.
"It's a whole different level, and these guys don't give up easily," Wilson said. "I don't blame them. It's what they do. It's how they put bread on their table."
Because he'd been committed to Southern California for so long, Jeffery said he did inform Carroll that he planned to sign with South Carolina. The Trojans had tried to put the squeeze on Jeffery earlier in the recruiting process and told him that they were going to pull his offer unless he agreed not to take visits anywhere else.
To make a long story short, Jeffery took his visits to South Carolina and Tennessee, and the Trojans never quit recruiting him.
"He tried his best to talk me out of it, but my mind was made up," said Jeffery, who still refers to Carroll as "Pete."
Kiffin was equally dogged. But when it was obvious that Jeffery wasn't going to Tennessee, Kiffin took off the gloves.
According to Jeffrey and Wilson, Kiffin told Jeffery that if he chose the Gamecocks, he would end up pumping gas for the rest of his life like all the other players from that state who had gone to South Carolina.
Jeffery was doing his best to stay awake at that point, but that comment from Kiffin woke him up. He clearly hasn't forgotten it, either.
"He said it, but it's not worth talking about," Jeffery said.
Wilson was a little more diplomatic. He wrote it off as Kiffin pulling out all of the stops and simply not wanting to concede defeat. Wilson acknowledged that's about as negative as it got that morning.
"It was his last resort. That's all it was," said Wilson, who also attended high school in South Carolina. "When you get pushed against the wall and your back is there, you're going to come out with something. You should have heard coach Carroll. He was wide awake at 3 o'clock in the morning. Remember, he was on West Coast time and fighting to get Alshon to the very end.
"But the war was over at that point."
As things heated up that morning, Wilson shot a quick glance toward Mack, who also heard everything. It was as if to say, "Get ready big boy. This is going to be you next year."
And sure enough, Tennessee assistant coach David Reaves quickly made it known that the Vols weren't going to miss out on Mack next year.
"When you're desperate, you say things you probably don't mean, sort of like a husband and wife when they get mad at each other," Wilson said. "These coaches put so much effort into recruiting these kids. They take it hard when they lose one.
"I wasn't offended, because I know how the game works. That's just how competitive it is. You don't think coach [Nick] Saban isn't competitive? But one of the things I do know about South Carolina is that they take care of their own."
Finally, the cell phones stopped ringing that morning. Jeffery was able to steal a few hours of sleep, and South Carolina had his signed scholarship papers by 7:30 a.m.
He didn't announce that he was signing with the Gamecocks until later that morning at his school's signing ceremony.
"It was a relief. The stress gets to you a little bit," Jeffery said. "But the whole experience was a good one. You learn a lot about yourself, and you learn a lot about people."