Lane Kiffin's USC vote revealed

Updated: August 10, 2012, 1:06 AM ET
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- USC coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday that he "would not vote USC No. 1" in the coaches' poll, but he actually did, USA Today revealed Thursday night.

Citing Kiffin's providing of "false or misleading information" to the public and a desire to "set the record straight to protect the poll's integrity," the newspaper released Kiffin's top-voted team in the USA Today Coaches' Poll.

Votes are normally kept confidential until the final poll of each year.

Asked after his Trojans' Tuesday practice to reveal the team he voted to be No. 1 in the country, Kiffin said he could not disclose that information. But when told of Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez's comment that he voted the Trojans first, Kiffin laughed.

"I would not vote USC No. 1, I can tell you that much," Kiffin said.

He expressed similar sentiments at Pac-12 media day last month before the Trojans added Penn State running back Silas Redd to their roster.

"I don't know how you vote a team No. 1 that has less players than everybody else, so I don't but I'm sure I think I know our issues more than other people do, especially at running back," Kiffin said.

Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association which co-directs the poll with the newspaper, told USA Today he sent Kiffin a letter about his issue with the comments.

USC senior associate athletic director of media relations Tim Tessalone said Kiffin had not received a letter or a phone call from Teaff as of late Thursday night.

"USA TODAY sent a June 4, 2012, letter to coaches who agreed to vote in its college football poll stating that, except for the final poll of the regular season, 'votes for all other polls will be kept confidential by USA Today,'" Tessalone said in a statement. "The fact that the leadership of the American Football Coaches Association, which tasks USA TODAY to administer its poll, joined with the poll administrators from USA TODAY to decide to breach that confidentiality by providing to a reporter a coach's vote in its pre-season poll is disappointing and attacks the integrity of the poll.

"Further, that the reporter who was given this information represents the very organization that conducts the poll is a conflict of journalistic interest."

In the June 4 letter to Kiffin, there is no mention of USA Today's ability to reveal votes in certain situations.

Kiffin defended his vote to the newspaper by saying his players would have found out one way or another if he hadn't put the Trojans No. 1.

"We have less players than everybody else," Kiffin told USA Today. "So looking at it from the outside, I wouldn't (vote USC No. 1). Did I? Yeah, I did. That's not based off of 75 vs. 85. That's based off of Matt Barkley, T.J. McDonald and Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. When everybody has the same record, I can't go into a meeting with our players and have them say, 'You put that team and that team ahead of us.' That's why I did that."

The preseason poll was Kiffin's first-ever vote in the USA Today Coaches' Poll.

Pedro Moura covers USC for ESPNLosAngeles.com