One question unanswered even tonight was why USC ran a fairly complicated play on the pass to wide receiver Robert Woods at the end of regulation?
A run would be safe and enable the clock to stop. A short sideline route would also be much safer. But the Woods play offered some strange possibilities (he actually caught the ball two yards behind the line of scrimmage) and then was supposed to gain enough yardage to get into field-goal range. And then a timeout would be called.
It just seemed like an unnecessary risk with a chance to win the game.
Lane Kiffin clarified something tonight. He decided he wanted a timeout during the replay review of whether Robert Woods was down before the game ended. Kiffin said the replay showed Woods was down was 1 second left and that he wanted the timeout after the review, which would leave an extra second.
“I have talked to a few people (from the Pac-12),” Kiffin said. “How I was lied to (by the side judge).”
Kiffin said he told the side judge he wanted a timeout but did not get one. The head official said he was never told USC wanted a timeout.
“It would have been fun to see if we could make a 49-yard field goal,” Kiffin said.
Lane Kiffin said Sunday night he thought USC would win the game when Nickell Robey intercepted a pass for a touchdown.
“I really felt like that was it,” Kiffin said. “Those dark clouds that started to move last Saturday had a chance to go away.”
Kiffin said Nickell Robey and Marqise Lee were in tears in the locker room after the game.
Kiffin said his usual fumble policy is not in effect with Curtis McNeal because it was a fumbled pitch.
“It’s not as bad,” Kiffin said. “It’s not good.’
Readers have added some more dramatic games to the list I mentioned earlier. The 2003 and 2004 USC-Cal games. I also think the 1996 USC-UCLA overtime game and 1990 USC-UCLA game deserve to be mentioned too.
There have been plenty of dramatic games in the past 20 years or so. Right now I’m tempted to say USC-Stanford ranks as No. 3 behind USC-Notre Dame (2005) and USC-Texas (BCS title game) in terms of drama and tension inside the stadium.
Last night’s USC-Stanford game was one of the most dramatic and suspenseful college football games in recent memory. It also provided a wonderful platform for Trojans coach Lane Kiffin, who had the privilege of being a participant and nearly pulled off a big upset.
At the least, Kiffin could enjoy getting the Coliseum atmosphere back to the glory days.
Instead, he could not resist letting his sour side take over by berating the officials in his post-game press conference. It made Kiffin seem small and petty. One could imagine Pete Carroll smiling and using the game as a building block as he discussed it with the media.
Kiffin chose a different role that comes natural: Whiner.
A USC official even gestured to Kiffin to stop talking about the officials during the tirade.
So the referee did not call timeout with 1 second left? Then don’t run a play over the middle or instruct your player to hit the ground early to guarantee a field goal.
Not everything is the ref’s fault. I didn’t hear Stanford coach David Shaw complain that USC did not have a penalty called on it until the fourth quarter. Or that the Cardinal had 11 penalties and the Trojans three.
But the actual circumstances are beside the point. A team assumes its coach’s character. Pete Carroll used to tell me how he wanted his teams to feed off his positive energy.
Kiffin only dimished himself after the game last night. And it stole from what could have been one of his prouder moments.