If 2012 was any indication, it’s clear that Lane Kiffin doesn’t have too many supporters. Throughout the season, Kiffin was peppered, crucified, blamed and criticized for everything from wearing sun glasses to recruiting Silas Redd.
Many of the criticisms, like shoddy play calling all season long, have their merit. Others, like Kiffin catching heat for the Coliseum’s decision to ban pregame walk-throughs, have been examples of Kiffin’s reputation losing the benefit of the doubt for him, an opposed to his actions.
So we created the ‘Lane Kiffin Blame Game’, the interactive game that uses a spinning wheel to determine whether or not it’s just to blame Kiffin for anything that may occur in the world.
To test out the wheel, here’s eight headline topics that have been blamed on Kiffin either justly, injustly or just ‘cuz. Before you begin, set the mood with some music by opening this or that in a new tab.
Lying about his Coaches’ Poll vote
Remember when USC was No. 1 in the country? That’s probably going to be a joke for months to come, but it was the reality when it came to Lane Kiffin’s vote in the Coaches’ Poll back in August. Kiffin told the media that he wouldn’t vote for a team with 75 players to be No. 1 and the USA Today revealed his vote to save the integrity of the poll. Kiffin took his ball and went home, withdrawing from the poll. It’s widely known that some coaches don’t actually vote in the poll as it’s filled out by staffers, so was Kiffin really lying? Let’s find out who to blame. SPIN THAT WHEEL!
Switching jerseys of Cody Kessler and Kyle Negrete
Remember when Negrete looked nimble and athletic against Colorado? Yeah, neither do we. That’s because it was Kessler suited up as the punter in an attempt to convert on a two-point conversion and chase a lost point. Kiffin blamed special teams coach John Baxter and many were conflicted as to whether or not it was ethical or legal per NCAA rules. Can Kiffin as the head coach be blamed if it was Baxter’s call? SPIN THAT WHEEL!
Deflated balls vs. Oregon
The Trojans’ balls were a half pound shy of regulation size and a ball boy was deemed the scapegoat by the athletic department. Players didn’t notice the feel of the deflation during the first half, nor did referees who touched them between plays. Chip Kelly said he didn’t mind, but for many, the deflated balls were the most embarrassing moment of the season for Kiffin and the Trojans, as deflated balls can provide an advantage when caught or grasped. Is Kiffin to blame for the balls being deflated four percent under their intended weight? SPIN THAT WHEEL!
Losing at UCLA
The Trojans sputtered in the passing game against the Bruins but running back Curtis McNeal ran for 161 yards on 21 carries while looking nearly unstoppable in the second half. Down by as little as four in the third quarter, Kiffin opted to go with his forced passing game instead of sticking to the run game despite the rain at the Rose Bowl, and it led to a few three and outs that killed USC’s momentum. Did Kiffin blow it against the Bruins? SPIN THAT WHEEL!
The goal line stand
After Max Wittek connected with Marqise Lee on a 53-yard bomb against Notre Dame, the Trojans had the ball at the two-yard line for a first and goal. They would have seven plays inside the two-yard line but they were going up against the best front seven in college football. Kiffin opted to put fullback Soma Vainuku in motion and run the ball from a single back set, in addition to sneak the ball twice. It didn’t work. But who’s to blame? Kiffin’s tactics or Notre Dame’s stout from seven? SPIN THAT WHEEL!
Being late to a Sun Bowl dinner
The Trojans didn’t exactly make themselves welcome in El Paso after two tweets from Tony Burnett and Leonard Williams. Being late for their dinner with Georgia Tech on the first night really didn’t please too many El Pasoans, either. The Trojans were late due to multiple team flights and a long practice held on the outskirts of town. Tech wasn’t a fan of the incident but was it the head coach’s fault that a whole team and its staff was late to a dinner at bowl-sanctioned event? SPIN THAT WHEEL!
The offense’s struggles in the Sun Bowl
Max Wittek, while starting in place of Barkley, completed just 14 of 37 passes for 107 yards and never looked to be in rhythm. His throws were off, the play selection was off and nothing looked right. Kiffin’s head was buried in his play chart during stoppages of play and Marqise Lee was seen yelling at Wittek on the sidelines. Was this just a case of a poor performance by Wittek or did Kiffin drop the ball and cause the Trojans’ offensive implosion? SPIN THAT WHEEL!
Sebastian LaRue’s De-commitment
LaRue had long been considered to be a long shot to land at Troy after he had taken multiple visits to other schools, in addition to his choice to not visit USC with other committed players in January. But with his decision being just two days after the Sun Bowl loss, some have pointed the finger at Kiffin and USC’s 7-6 record as being the cause of the de-commitment. Is it right to blame Kiffin for LaRue’s change in heart? SPIN THAT WHEEL!
Now that we’ve tested the game, try spinning the wheel daily and for any event that needs a scapegoat, albeit just or unjust! Need to find someone to blame for not doing the dishes? Play the Lane Kiffin Blame Game! Suggested uses include seeing whether or not you should blame Kiffin for the fiscal cliff or Ray Lewis’s retirement. GO SPIN THAT WHEEL!
(This game is suitable for all ages, including 7th graders endorsed by Steve Clarkson)