Kiffin ‘extremely disappointed’ in officials


Stanford’s thrilling 56-48 triple-overtime win over USC was an instant classic, preserving the Cardinal’s unbeaten season, 16-game winning streak and BcS title hopes all in one fell swoop.

The game wasn’t without its controversy, however.

With nine seconds left in regulation and the game tied at 34, Matt Barkley hit sophomore Robert Woods on a screen pass at the 40-yard line and near the right sideline.  With time ticking away, Woods ran clear across the field and went down at around the 33 as the clock hit double zeros.  And then all confusing hell broke loose.

Woods’ knee appeared to hit the Coliseum turf inbounds and with one second left; Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin claimed he told officials prior to the play that he wanted to call a timeout if there was still time left on the clock, which would’ve given USC a shot at a 50-yard or so field goal for the win.  Upon further review, the officials ruled that Woods did not get out of bounds but time had expired before a timeout was called, sending the game into the first of what would be three overtimes.

Following the loss, Kiffin was livid at the officiating.

“I’m really disappointed in the officials,” Kiffin said. “Extremely disappointed. They said [Woods] was out of bounds which he wasn’t. I had asked for a timeout with one second left before the play. We could have kicked a 50-yard field goal to win the game.  I’m not complaining. I’m just giving you the exact facts.”

Suffice to say, the officials had a slightly different view as to how the final seconds of regulation played out.

“The ruling on the field was that we were going to overtime. Through review, it was seen that the knee was down and time had expired and therefore we were headed to an overtime period,” head referee Michael Batlan said. “Any coach can ask for a timeout but he doesn’t get one until an official grants or signifies it. I was not part of any conversation with regards to a requested timeout.”

One thing lost in all of the end-of-regulation drama and confusion was the brain flatulence on the part of Woods.  On a play that begins with less than 10 seconds left and two timeouts remaining, Woods has either got to turn it up the field and get down, or not sprint across the width of the field and leave it the hands of the officiating crew to sort out the mess.  In fact, that was exactly what Barkley was intimating following the loss.

“I was yelling at [Woods]. I was yelling, ‘Get down’ because I could see the clock. That play never really goes that far across the field. You hit it, and you turn upfield, but it was an unfortunate that it didn’t work out.”

Isn’t that something Kiffin and his coaching staff should be drilling into his players — especially Woods as the play was obviously designed for him — coming out of a timeout?  Instead of piling onto an officiating crew that appeared to make the right call, Coach Kiffin, how about taking yourselves to task for not ensuring  all of your players are aware of the situation and what their responsibilities are with so few seconds left?

Albeit limited, Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) returns to practice

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In the end, it appears to be much ado about (mostly) nothing.

Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his left (throwing) hand. It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.

Wednesday, it was reported that the injury was believed to be just a sprain and that Tagovailoa could return to practice soon. That report proved prophetic as Tagovailoa was indeed back at practice Thursday, albeit on a limited basis.


The quarterback was not doing the normal drills with his teammates but was off to the side working with head athletic trainer Jeff Allen. It looked like they were testing Tagovailoa’s ability to grip the football since the injury was suffered on his throwing hand. He replicated a few play-action roll outs with the ball in his left hand. At one point, he rolled over toward where Jalen Hurts was standing and they high fived.

Until Tagovailoa is fully recovered, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.

The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are entrenched in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp. That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.

USC graduate transfer Jalen Greene heads east to play at Illinois in 2018

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Greene is turning orange. Well, Jalen Greene is at least.

The former USC wide receiver who announced he would pursue a graduate transfer earlier this month announced on Twitter that he would be heading East to play at Illinois in 2018. He will be immediately eligible to play for the Illini.

Greene was originally recruited by the Trojans as a dual-threat quarterback but eventually made the move to receiver. He caught eight passes for 98 yards at USC last season as a partial starter and added another eight receptions for 116 yards the year prior.

Illinois has already begun spring practice and has been trying several new players at wide receiver in the process to find a good complement to Mike Dudek on the outside. It seems Greene could find himself in the mix to be one of those guys when he arrives in Champaign.

Josh Heupel keeping most of Scott Frost’s playbook at UCF as spring practice begins

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There are a ton of interesting storylines as spring practice begins across the country but one of the most intriguing programs to watch might be in Orlando as UCF looks to simultaneously follow up an undefeated season while also transitioning to a new coaching staff.

ESPN’s Andrea Adelson wrote a good story on the Knights changing some things up under head coach Josh Heupel the past few months like eating with players during meals, new strength and conditioning regiments and the usual offseason stuff you typically wind up season. However there was one interesting nugget about the team’s playbook that the coach relayed:

In other areas, player input has kept a few things unchanged. Take the offensive playbook, for example. Heupel and (Scott) Frost share enough offensive concepts that the new staff has adopted the terminology that players already know on the plays they have in common. So in theory, that should allow the offense to hit spring practice, which started Tuesday, with much more familiarity than another program that has completely changed over its staff.

As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In Heupel’s first head coaching gig, it seems he’s taking that to heart.

David Beaty elevates Cassius Sendish from GA to Kansas safeties coach

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It didn’t take long nor did David Beaty have to look far for Kansas’ new safeties coach.

The school confirmed on Thursday morning that graduate assistant Cassius Sendish, a former Jayhawks team captain and defensive back, would be taking over as the team’s new safeties coach to complete the staff for 2018.

“I am honored and proud to represent the University of Kansas football program,” said Sendish in a statement. “I hold this place near and dear to my heart and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work at my alma mater. I can’t thank Coach Beaty and the rest of the football staff enough for allowing me to come aboard and be a part of something special.”

Sendish replaces Todd Bradford on the staff after he made the rather head-turning move to leave coaching and take a new job in the oil industry. Recently hired Bill Miller will continue to coach linebackers while the newest hire will team up with defensive coordinator Clint Bowen to handle the secondary.

There will be plenty of time for everybody to settle into their new on-field roles as the Jayhawks will open up spring practice on March 31st.