Lane Kiffin’s suspension of freshman running back Dillon Baxter for violating team rules has gained the admiration of his boss, Athletic Director Pat Haden. Considering Kiffin’s past of generally not following the rules combined with USC’s tumultuous summer, getting off on the right foot under the new administration has been important.
Haden takes over at USC with a no-nonsense mentality. The first order of business was to strip USC of everything Reggie Bush. Jerseys, Heismans, bobble heads and more. Gone.
So when Baxter’s summer started going “up in smoke” the pressure was on to make a statement early.
“Dillon’s a high-profile athlete, like we’ve had some other ones around here, and he wasn’t doing things he was supposed to be doing,” said Haden. Baxter will continue to practice with the team, even though he is suspended for the first game of 2010 against Hawaii.
Kiffin and USC needed to show they have turned a corner in their less than reputable past. In Kiffin’s case, however, that past might come back to haunt him. The NCAA is expected to make a trip out west to talk with the former Vols coach about potential recruiting violations while at Tennessee.
“It’s not good for the image, there’s no doubt about it, but we don’t know what’s going to come out of that,” Haden said in regards to a potential upcoming visit. “But these things seem to dog Lane, which is unfortunate because I do know that he’s gotten my message and I know he’s trying to do things right.”
One of the more underrated storylines heading into Week 6 continued its tack of uncertainty Tuesday.
During the first quarter of Florida State’s win over Wake Forest this past Saturday, Dalvin Cook tweaked his hamstring and didn’t return to the contest. The sophomore running back was initially labeled as day-to-day for this weekend’s game against Miami, and that hasn’t changed as Jimbo Fisher reaffirmed that Cook’s status for the in-state rivalry game remains up in the air.
“We’ll keep waiting,” the head coach said, adding that, because of Cook’s knowledge of the offense, he could sit out of practice the entire week and still take the field against the Hurricanes.
“He knows what to do, you can keep him healthy and do that there’s no doubt about that,” Fisher said.
Cook is far and away FSU’s leading rusher, with his 142.5 yards per game good for eight in the country and his six rushing touchdowns tied for 20th. The Seminoles’ No. 2 rusher, Mario Pender, is still dealing with the aftereffects of a collapsed lung that will sideline him for at least another week.
Oklahoma State’s defense has taken what will likely prove to be a very significant and impactful blow.
On Twitter as well as Instagram late Tuesday night, Ryan Simmons announced that he “recently tore my MCL & PCL which will require surgery.” As a result, Simmons, who was injured in the Week 5 win over Kansas State, will miss the remainder of the 2015 season, even as OSU has yet to officially confirm the linebacker’s status moving forward.
Because Simmons is a senior, and this is his final season of eligibility, the end of his 2015 season would also mean the end of his collegiate career.
Simmons has started the last 31 games for the Cowboys. He was second on the team in tackles last season, and his 26 career tackles for loss makes him OSU’s active leader in that category as well.
On his official bio, it’s written that Simmons is “[o]ne of the unquestioned leaders of the team, both on and off the field.”