Tirebiter’s Morning Byte: USC Football Better Without Monte Kiffin and Other Links


USC: Will Kiffin be better off without Dad around? A litany of coaching miscues plagued the Trojans during their disappointing 7-6 campaign, but even Lane Kiffin conceded after the fact that father Monte — who resigned after the season — was not well suited for the college ranks. New defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, formerly of Cal, has a better grasp at countering new-age spread offenses like Oregon and Arizona’s. He’ll spend the spring installing a diverse scheme that will likely see Trojans defenders playing more man coverage and flexible fronts.

Let’s put it this way: If you notice athletes prominently featured on Deadspin on a Sunday, they probably aren’t featured for any philanthropic reasons. It isn’t because they visited a downtown Boys & Girls Club. And it isn’t because they hosted an anti-crime campaign insisting people should “shoot baskets, not guns,” or anything like that. No, they’re making news because of Saturday-night shenanigans. And that’s exactly what happened last Sunday afternoon to the USC men’s basketball team.

USC head coach Lane Kiffin gets a lot of criticism—some of it deserved, some of it not.  Part of Kiffin’s polarizing image may be due in part to the University of Tennessee’s fans who loudly voiced their disdain toward the former Tennessee coach over his abrupt departure from Knoxville. Apparently, a coach doesn’t don’t leave an SEC school—especially to go to the Pac-12—unless they say he can leave.  One of the current criticisms of Kiffin, however, may be well-justified—his play calling. Fans and sportswriters all probably questioned Kiffin’s play calling at some point during the 2012 season—not the entire games’ play calls mind you, but specific down-and-yardage situations in those games. Like these….

Mama led the way with a performance that earned him the MVP honors for the group, as well as an invitation to The Opening. The first thing that jumps out to you about Damien is that he’s a big guy at 330 pounds. Then, when you watch drills, you see the power and the athleticism. Mama played alongside USC signee Nico Falah last season, so it’s easy to see why Bosco advanced to the CIF-SS Pac-5 final, and why national champion Alabama is on his early offer list.

At 9-9 in Pac-12 play, the Trojans are entirely unpredictable. Six of their Pac-12 wins were by four points or less, while their most lopsided win was the 17-point victory over Utah. The Utes, who haven’t surprised a team all season, finally notched a meaningful win against the Ducks on Saturday, playing the spoiler.

USC has indefinitely suspended basketball players James Blasczyk and Dewayne Dedmon, officially for the violation of a team rule. Neither center will play Wednesday when the Trojans face Utah in the first round of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament in Las Vegas.

USC is ranked #3 in the nation by the AVCA and split their two opening matches, defeating Loyola Marymount 4-1 and losing to #4 Florida State 3-2. Upperclassmen Brooke Fournier and Natasa Siljkovic scored the first Trojan victory on the new sand, winning 21-13, 21-9 over an LMU pair. Katie Fuller, a senior who played outside hitter on the women’s indoor volleyball team, teamed with grad student transfer Stevi Robinson to sweep their LMU match 21-15, 21-12. Fuller and Robinson also won their match against FSU in three sets, 21-16, 18-21, 15-12.

The USC women’s lacrosse team (4-4, 2-1 MPSF) returns from four straight road games to host a pair of non-conference matchups, this week, at McAlister Field. The Women of Troy welcome Temple (4-1) for a Wednesday afternoon bout and will take on fellow first-year program Marquette (2-3) on Saturday.

The No. 12 USC women’s tennis team got a big lift last week with a nice road upset of No. 3 rival UCLA, and the Women of Troy now roll into a busy week back on their home courts at Marks Stadium. USC (10-2) kicks off the week with a nonconference tangle with Texas (3-6) at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday (March 12). The Trojans will then turn to play its first Pac-12 matches of the year, taking on Colorado (6-6, 1-1 Pac-12) at 1:30 p.m. on Friday (March 15) and then facing Utah (7-3, 1-1) at 12 p.m. on Saturday (March 16).

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