Five things we learned from USC-UCLA Version 2012

Daily News staff photo

1. A cream-filled Twinkie defense and a ho-hum Ho-Hos offense does not produce a ding donging of the Victory Bell. But here’s the zinger: Lane Kiffin, still willing to fall on the sword for his team’s shortcomings, admitted afterward that he’s been told by athletic director Pat Haden that no matter how this season ends, he’ll be coming back.

“Absolutely,” Haden told us in a text message Saturday night. “He is our coach.”

Seriously, was he using a smart phone when he sent that reply?

So, no liquidation. No Laker-type drama. But no guarantee that means old man Monte is part of that deal.

It won’t stop any kind of internet speculation on who eventually Haden brings in as “his guy” once the alums are fed up with number-switching, injury-hiding, ball-deflating and any other media angst that goes along with it.

No matter if you’re craving Mike Belliotti or Ed Orgeron, Jack Del Rio or Jeff Fisher, Dirk Koetter or Bobby Petrino, Jim Tressel or Jon Gruden, Andy Reid or . . . Rick Neuheisel? Sorry. The spot is filled.

Just remember the scene at the end of the game: UCLA fans happily held up their flip phones in the stands at the Rose Bowl to snap pictures of the celebration on the field. USC fans looked down at their 5G iPhones in search for Yelp reviews on where to find the best hotel package deals in El Paso.

Daily News staff photo

2. Winning more and more continues to cover up whatever shortcomings Jim Mora may have as the UCLA coach. Kind of like what happened to another NFL washout coach, Pete Carroll, when he first took over USC’s program and turned it around.

“This means a lot,” the first-year coach said the victory. “Number one, to our kids who are in there celebrating right now. You can feel the emotion. Number two, I think it means a lot to our university, our student body and our alumni. Other than that, it means we are 9-2 and playing Stanford next week.”

Other than that, it also means you’ve got a return trip to the Pac-12 Championship game. Or, two more trips than USC has had.

Daily News staff photo

3. Matt Barkley might be better served to just call it a college career, hire an agent, get a deep tissue massage and avoid injury from here on.

The lick he took from UCLA’s Anthony Ball with 2:21 left in the game was the defining blow for the senior on a day that started with him throwing a pick on his first toss of the game. He’s racked up nine interceptions in his last four games – three of them losses – giving him 15 for the season and just one away from another all-time USC record. Carson Palmer’s 49 over four-plus seasons were somewhat overlooked as he capped his career with a Heisman Trophy and No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft some 10 years ago. That’ll be off the mark for Barkley.

Daily News staff photo

4. Don’t underestimate the value of a kicker who, in any weather, can put a ball in a crummy position for an opponent. UCLA’s Jeff Locke is a Ray Guy Award semifinalist because of the fact he was able to record six touchbacks Saturday. That gives him 60 for the year. His punts also nailed USC into miserable starting positions all afternoon. USC does have a kicker as well. One who tried a 44-yard field goal in the wet weather when his career best was 41. He missed. As well as failing to complete an extra point.

Get the point? Maybe the kid’s just injured. As if we’ll ever know.

5. Remember to order rain for every USC-UCLA game. Gobs of it. The 80,000-plus fans may eventually grow tired of feeling super soaked, but seeing a sea of gold-colored ponchos amidst the blue and red jackets made the water-color pallet pop like rarely seen. This is the third time USC has come out on the wrong end of a rain game against UCLA – 10-7 in 1961 and 13-6 in 1946. But they stayed cheery about the 50-odd shades of gray weather.

When it started to pour rain after halftime, UCLA’s cheerleaders decided to wear ballcaps. The USC cheerleaders remained topless.

USC saftey T.J. McDonald, left, meets brother, UCLA safety Tevin McDonald, after Saturday’s game at the Rose Bowl (AP photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email