Lane Kiffin Blames College Football’s Troubles on a Relentless and Increasingly Negativity Media Landscape

August 23, 2011 – 9:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

We can all agree it’s been a tough offseason for college football. Heck, it’s been a tough couple of years when you look at the major programs that have been under investigation — USC, Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee, Miami, North Carolina, to name the most prominent of the much longer list of programs facing sanctions stemming from rules infractions in recent years.

The avalanche of negative news has prompted some to speak out on behalf of sweeping changes by the NCAA if there’s to be any shot at fixing an undeniably broken system. Don’t put USC head coach Lane Kiffin in that category though. Take note, of course, of the fact that Kiffin was a central coaching figure on two of the programs on the aforementioned list. No, in Kiffin’s mind, it’s not that the system is broken in college football. Instead, Kiffin points the finger at an excessively negative media landscape and the relentless scrutiny programs face by the press. According to Kiffin, the witch hunt is distracting the media from sharing stories about all that’s good about college football. There’s some truth to that, no doubt, but Kiffin perhaps should hammer on that point and say that he wished the media would tell the good and the bad, rather than chastise the media for inconveniencing everybody with its fixation on uncovering the salacious scandals waiting to be uncovered on campuses across the country.

Lane Kiffin joined XX Sports Radio in San Diego with Darren Smith to discuss his team’s progress in camp to this point with the 2011 season just around the corner, which areas he feels his team needs to improve upon the most, how he’ll measure ‘success’ for the Trojans this season considering they are ineligible for postseason play, the program staying motivated and focused when they know they’re not in contention for championships, how he feels Matt Barkley stacks up against the laundry list of other great quarterbacks who have led USC, the importance of USC reaffirming its identity as Tailback U, how he thinks the college game has changed since the time he joined the coaching ranks at this level, and why he believes the media is deserving of considerable blame for the troubling crossroads the game is at.

Are you where you want to be right now in terms of preparation for the season?:

“I think we are in certain areas, but we still have some work to do at others. There were some good things that happened. Sunday was our final day of scrimmage format and we threw the ball pretty well and tackled well on defense, so there were some bright things.”

What did you feel like your team needed to improve on the most?:

“Our defense, specifically the two-minute situations. We should’ve been 11-2 last year just solving that issue alone. It’s been a focus of ours and one that I think we’ve improved on … by just spending so much time in those situations, number one. And then, number two, overall on defense, it’s the second year in the system. We had a lot of inexperience last year.”

How do you define what is or isn’t a good season when the postseason is out of the question?:

“We don’t get into wins and losses and how many and set the goals that way. We just want to continue to improve and play extremely well and continue to develop our young players that will help us make it through this.”

Is finding that motivation something that you talk to your players about?:

“It’s kind of becoming old for us, unfortunately. We went through this last year, so it’s not new. They’re used to having this taken away from them. I think guys are more focused now, knowing that they’ve already been through it for a year, and really just focused on doing what they can control, which is playing well.”

How does Matt Barkley compare to the other great quarterbacks you’ve coached?:

“His preparation is so phenomenal and his approach to his whole life and football in general. He’s just always striving to be better and does not let anything distract him. I think he’s going to be one of the best ones ever to play here.”

Has he taken a step in terms of leadership?:

“I think he has. As you mentioned, he’s still young. He’s going into his third year of college. Most guys, quarterbacks have redshirted and are now just starting to play going into their third year, not having started two years already. We do see him developing in more of a leadership role as he’s started to mature.”

How does he compare to Matt Leinart?:

“I think there’s some similarities because they’re both very serious about their approach to the game and very smart and understanding everything. So I think there’s a lot of similarities between the two of them.”

Is USC still Tailback U?:

“We actually, if you look since Reggie [Bush] and LenDale [White] left, there’s not been a high draft pick here at tailback. … That’s six, seven years where there hasn’t been here. We need to get that back and hopefully we will.”

Has the game changed like in the NFL where you find a quarterback and then fill in the running back spot?:

“I don’t think so. I think that that’s more in the NFL because people may not want to pay as much money or draft a guy as high because the position is so injury-prone. That’s different in recruiting. You’re still going to try to go get the top guys because they’re difference-makers and change your team.”

Should we expect to see you coming out and going for two points after touchdowns again this year?:

“Oh I don’t know. That’ll dictate where we’re at in our gameplan, who we’re playing.”

How would you feel about sharing your field with an NFL team?:

“I don’t have any thoughts on it. We don’t really worry about things until they happen. … We’d love to have football back in L.A. Obviously it’s been very special here before and we’d love to be around it again.”

Is college football at a crossroads right now?:

“The thing to me that’s discouraging, and it’s just how it works, is the fact that so much attention is paid to the negative things going on. There’s so many stories around the country like the Matt Barkleys of the world. … There’s so many stories like that, but it’s just how it works that the few negative stories get so much attention. It’s unfortunate.”

Listen to Lane Kiffin on XX Sports Radio in San Diego here

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Post a Comment