Pac-12 Fines Kiffin, Suspends T.J. McDonald
The Pac-12 Conference has fined USC coach Lane Kiffin for his comments about officiating following Saturday's loss to Stanford and suspended saftey T.J. McDonald for his hit on Cardinal wide receiver Chris Owusu.
In a press release, the Pac-12 said in part:
"University of Southern California head football coach Lane Kiffin has been reprimanded and fined by the Pac-12 Conference for comments he made on the officiating after last Saturday’s game with Stanford.
"In addition to the reprimand, Kiffin has been fined $10,000 by the Conference for his public comments."
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement:
"The Pac-12 has specific rules that prohibit our coaches from making public comments about officiating, and this prohibition specifically includes comments that create doubts about the credibility of the Conference’s officiating program. The Conference expects each Pac-12 coach to adhere to our standards of conduct and to conduct himself or herself in a manner which will reflect credit on the institution and the Conference."
Kiffin responded to the news of the fine by saying:
"After numerous conversations with the conference office, we have agreed to disagree. As I have been saying the past two days, we have moved on from last week's game and we are preparing for a very challenging conference game this Friday at Colorado."
Kiffin said following the game that he was "basically lied to" by the officials, who told him that he would be granted a timeout following the disputed last play of regulation.
Initally, Robert Woods was ruled out of bounds with no time on the clock, meaning the Trojan's would not be able to attempt a game-winning 50-yard field goal.
Video replays showed, however, that Woods was down in bounds with one second left. While the play was under review, Kiffin said he was informed by an official that he would be granted a timeout if replays concluded that Woods was down with one second left.
"(But) they came back over and completely went against it,” Kiffin said after the game Saturday. “So I’m extremely disappointed in that. That’s not an opinion, I’m not complaining about it. I’m just giving you the exact facts of the situation. Really disappointed in that."
Kiffin spent more than a minute discussing the topic on his own after the game before an athletic department spokesperson motioned for him to move on.
Yesterday in a conference call with reporters, Kiffin expressed specific disagreement with three other plays, going so far as to say his two-year old son Knox was able to figure out where the ball should have been spotted better than the officials following a key Stanford holding penalty.
One of those other plays was a hit by T.J. McDonald (see video at the top), which forced an incompletion that would have resulted in a decisive fourth-and-seven. The penalty, however, gave Stanford a crucial first down on their final game-tying drive. Today, the conference suspended the junior saftey for the first half of the Trojan's next game against Colorado on Friday "for his hit on a defenseless opponent during USC’s game with Stanford on Saturday," according to the Conference's release.
Said Commissioner Scott:
"While Mr. McDonald was appropriately penalized on the field, I have deemed it necessary to add a half-game suspension.
"Mr. McDonald had been previously warned about illegal hits above the shoulders on defenseless opponents. In order to protect our student-athletes, it is imperative that we enforce these penalties for the safety of the game."
McDonald was flagged for similar reasons three times in the Trojan's only other loss of the season at Arizona State.
Kiffin defended his safety following the news of the suspension, saying:
"We respectfully disagree with the suspension imposed on T.J. McDonald. He made a bang-bang play and his intent was not to hurt the receiver or launch his body at the receiver or lead with his helmet. If you watch the hit in real time, we feel it is impossible to competitively play that play any differently.
"T.J. is a tremendous player and leader for our team, and he has our full support. I know he felt badly about being penalized and the impact it had in the game."
McDonald also released a statement, saying:
"I accept my penalty and I apologize to my teammates, to our Trojan fans and to the Stanford team. I'm disappointed that I can't be on the field with my teammates during the first half of this Friday's game, but I know they will do a great job without me.
"I was not purposefully trying to hurt the receiver. As I said after the game, I will figure out a way to play physically and still stay within the rules."
PAC-12 OFFICIAL RELEASES: