Lane Kiffin: Referees deceived me
LOS ANGELES -- A full day after the Trojans' 56-48 loss to Stanford in triple overtime, USC coach Lane Kiffin maintained Sunday that he was deceived by the Pac-12 referees officiating Saturday's game.
Kiffin, USC's second-year head coach, said he told an unspecified referee before the final play of regulation that he wanted a timeout after the Trojans ran a play, which began with nine seconds left on the game clock. But receiver Robert Woods winded a screen pass the opposite way and was tackled inbounds with one second left, and the clock was left to run out into overtime.
It was originally ruled that Woods was tackled out of bounds with no time left on the clock. While the play was being reviewed, Kiffin reminded side judge Brad Glenn to tell the head referee that he had requested the timeout, and he said he received an assurance that the timeout would be called if it was ruled after the review that there was one second left.
"I was basically lied to," Kiffin said Sunday.
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If USC had been allowed to run another play with one second, the Trojans would have attempted a 50-yard field goal as time expired.
Kicker Andre Heidari made one from the same distance at the end of the first half.
Kiffin said he phoned a Pac-12 official from the locker room after the game and spoke to him or her about the incidents, but he declined to identify the person he spoke with, saying, "I'm not really gonna get into what I did."
After the game, Kiffin spent more than a minute of his press conference discussing the end-of-regulation play before a school spokesperson gestured to him to move on.
"I told them, 'When the replay comes back, you're going to say, 'His knee's down,'" Kiffin said Saturday. "The side judge right there says you called timeout and you get to kick a 50-yard field goal and win the game. He goes over and tells them. He comes back over and it goes against us. I'm extremely disappointed in that."
"That's not an opinion. I'm not complaining about it. I'm just giving you the exact facts of the situation."
Head referee Michael Batlan released a statement following the game that referenced Kiffin's allegation.
"Any coach can ask for a timeout, but he doesn't get one until an official grants or signifies it," Batlan said. "I was not a part of any conversation or meeting with regards to a requested timeout."
Speaking with reporters in a conference call Sunday, Kiffin also said he disagreed with three other notable calls from Saturday's game, including a taunting penalty on receiver Marqise Lee when he scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, a targeting penalty on safety T.J. McDonald on Stanford's game-tying drive near the end of regulation and a holding penalty on Stanford that appeared to have been called at the line of scrimmage and should have resulted in a 2nd-and-15 situation, not a 2nd-and-7.
Of the holding call, Kiffin said he discussed the play with his "friend Knox" over breakfast on Sunday morning and found that Knox, his son, was able to find where the ball should have correctly been placed after the penalty.
"Just so you know, Knox is two years old," he said.
A spokesperson for the Pac-12 conference said officials would review the game and Kiffin's comments on Monday.
Pedro Moura covers USC for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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