Kiffin ‘extremely disappointed’ in officials

39 Comments

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?

Army on cusp of rare back-to-back bowl seasons for first time since 1984-85

Photo by Lance King/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Army is taking on Temple on Saturday afternoon with a chance to punch the first postseason bowl ticket of the 2017 season. Other teams may already be bowl eligible, but Army will be the first team to have a chance to accept an invitation to a bowl game on Saturday if they can manage to get by the Temple Owls.

Army has a spot waiting for them in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth as long as they are bowl-eligible this season. At 5-2, the Black Knights can start making their bowl plans as soon as they win one more game. If they do clinch their bowl eligibility on Saturday, it will be the first time Army will go to back-to-back bowl games for the first time since the 1984 and 1985 seasons. Army played in and won the short-lived Cherry Bowl in the 1984 season and the Peach Bowl in the 1985 season. After going to the Heart of Dallas Bowl last season for their first bowl trip since the 2010 season, Jeff Monken and his program are looking to make going to a bowl game a regular thing.

Army defeated Temple in the season opener a year ago, and Monken is aware that can be a motivating factor for Temple despite these Owls being a much different team from the AAC champions of last season.

”This is a tough football team that won their conference last year,” Monken said. ”They’ll have a ton of confidence and they feel as though they have to come in and win this game. We had the chance to come out with a win at their place, and I’m sure they’d love to return the favor.”

Monken took over the Army football program in 2014 after a successful run as head coach of Georgia Southern, then a powerhouse FCS program. His run at Army took a couple of years to get going, but Army has shed their losing ways under his watch, and that was highlighted by a long-awaited victory over Navy in last season’s Army-Navy Game. Picking up a win against Temple will continue to prove Army is continuing to improve as a program, and that also means Monken will potentially be finding himself on the radar in the coaching rumor mill. The Nebraska job has had some people mentioning Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo, but perhaps Monken would be a name to keep an eye on as well. As long as that means Army is winning games, so be it.

Keep in mind this would not be the first time Army would have back-to-back bowl eligible seasons since the mid-1980s. The Knights have had winning seasons on multiple occasions since last going to back-to-back bowl games, but the bowl game picture was quite different in the 1980s than it is today. With an oversaturation of bowl games available to schools today, Army stands a much better chance of going to a bowl game this season even with just six or seven wins than they would have 30 years ago.

Ohio State unveils alternate helmet for Penn State game

AP Photo/Nati Harnik
2 Comments

Contrary to previous internet uniform rumors, Ohio State’s alternate helmet for their big division showdown with Penn State next week is far closer to home to the traditional Ohio State look than some of the outside-the-box helmet designs that had been floating around in various rumor mills in Ohio State circles lately.

Ohio State is rolling out with an alternate gray uniform, for some reason (recruiting!), next week when the Buckeyes host Penn State. And to keep the look from head to toe, Ohio State will wear a gray helmet with a slightly abstract pattern seemingly mimicking camouflage.

Two years ago when Ohio State hosted Penn State, the Buckeyes took the field in an all-black uniform. The Buckeyes have also worn all-white uniforms (excluding the helmet) for road games against Michigan and Penn State in recent seasons.

Penn State, barring any unforeseen announcements, will stick with their traditional all-white look for the road game. Although, Penn State did wear a specially designed uniform this season a few weeks ago. It’s a new era, so never say never.

Ohio State is off this week. Penn State hosts Michigan Saturday night. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions meet in Columbus next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Big Ten lines up Thursday and Friday night football for 2018

Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
2 Comments

The Big Ten is planning ahead to buckle down and try to make Thursday night and Friday night football a thing in the conference. After breaking the ice on Thursday and Friday night football in the 2017 season, the conference has officially moved five games on the 2018 conference schedule to Thursday and Friday nights.

Purdue will host Northwestern in the Big Ten season opener on Thursday, August 30, marking the second straight season the Big Ten will kick off the college football season with a Thursday night football game. Indiana hosted Ohio State in a Thursday night season opener this season. The opening week of the season will continue the following night with Michigan State hosting Utah State and Wisconsin hosting Western Kentucky on Friday, August 21, 2018. This will mark the second straight season Wisconsin will open the season at home on a Friday night in Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers hosted Utah State on Friday, September 1 this season.

The three games on Thursday and Friday night in the opening week of the 2018 season keeps the Big Ten on the primetime lineup on various TV partners between ESPN, FOX Sports, and the Big Ten Network, although the programming specifics will come later on. But the idea of adding games to Thursday and Friday nights has been designed to add programming to TV partners and add content across all partner networks as part of the latest contracts with ESPN and FOX, along with the Big Ten Network.

The Big Ten has moved two additional games Friday nights next season as well. Illinois will host Penn State on Friday, September 21, 2018. Minnesota will host Indiana on Friday, October 26, 2018.

In statement, Mark Dantonio says LJ Scott’s ‘status will be affected for Saturday’s game, but he will play’

Getty Images
3 Comments

At least on the field, LJ Scott‘s latest boneheaded misstep won’t prove too costly.

Thursday, it was reported that Scott was arrested Wednesday for the seventh time in the last year and a half for driving on a suspended license or similar offense.  There was some question as to whether this latest off-field incident will cost the running back playing time for Michigan State’s game this weekend against Indiana.

In a statement, head coach Mark Dantonio said it would. Kinda.  Sorta.

In what has been a lengthy process, LJ Scott now has a valid driver’s license, free of any restrictions. He has resolved the matter completely, and has paid a price, both financially and publicly. His status will be affected for Saturday’s game, but he will play.

Scott currently leads the Spartans with 408 yards rushing and is tied for tops on the team with three rushing touchdowns.  He’s coming off a career-high 194 yards in last Saturday’s win over Minnesota.