Originally written on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/20/14
Southern California: In the matter of the curiously, and criminally (in terms of NCAA rules) deflated footballs and coach with the over-inflated sense of self, the question is not whether we can believe Lane Kiffin – we already know that we cannot – but whether we should here. On Wednesday USC reported that it had fired a student manager who deflated footballs that the Trojans’ offense would use moments before taking the field in last Saturday night’s 62-51 loss to No. 2 Oregon. Purportedly, the student acted alone when he let the air out of a few balls on the Oregon sideline shortly before kickoff. The idea behind the scheme is that slightly deflated footballs are easier to pass and catch, and when your aerial attack is burdened by the limited talents of quarterback Matt Barkley and wide receivers Marqise Lee, Robert Woods and Nelson Agholor, you need all the assistance – fair or unfair – that you can get. So, of course a student manager places himself in the 6th floor of the Texas Book Depository, needle in hand, and acts alone in this clandestine and nefarious exercise. Because some young man (or woman) who gladly devotes his extracurricular hours to assisting a program, likely one that he worships, would risk everything and perhaps undermine the program’s integrity for…what, exactly? Here is what we know: Three months ago, Kiffin, whose reputation as a man of unimpeachable integrity was not exactly Gibraltaresque at the time, lied bluntly about his preseason coaches’ poll ballot. Kiffin, when told that Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez had voted the Trojans No. 1, told reporters, “I would not vote USC No. 1, I can tell you that.”
 Except that he did, as the USA Today, which oversees the poll, felt compelled to report. Pressed upon the discrepancy a few days later, Kiffin equivocated by saying, “Looking at it from the outside, I wouldn’t (vote USC No. 1). But did I? Yeah.” Here is a man with presidential potential. We have established, at the very least, that Kiffin has little concern for what you and I might call the truth. And then last week the USA Today (confound that rag!) caught the Trojans switching jersey numbers of players so as to confuse the opposition. That USC would stoop to this practice against Colorado, which had lost three of its previous four games by at least 34 points, should tell you something about Kiffin’s nature: He does not bend, or break, the rules because he feels he needs to do so in order to win. He does so because he is addicted to the thrill of it. Lane Kiffin is smart. And stubborn. And a bit of a maverick. He began his USC career by going for two after every touchdown, which is fine but also displays a touch of hubris. His high school coaches once told me that he’d occasionally ignore the plays that they sent in to him when he played quarterback. He knew better even then. And he had little respect for authority, even then. The USA Today/Coaches’ Poll incident should inform you that Kiffin has little concern with whether or not he communicates the truth to anyone outside of his program. The jersey-switch incident should inform you that Kiffin will bend the rules to the limits of elasticity, if for no other reason to see if anyone is keeping tabs. Kiffin forfeited the benefit of the doubt over the course of both his career and this season. Our feelings about his credibility, though, are not enough to convict him in this incident. Maybe we are naïve. Maybe many schools do this and this time USC just happened to get caught. And so the student manager, being the most expendable suspect, had to be cut (we’ve all seen “The Godfather” and know how this goes). What we would love to have is a conversation with the student manager’s parents. There’s taking one for the team and then there is the matter of having your reputation unduly sullied. Most parents would not allow a person in Kiffin’s position, much less an institution such as USC, to exploit their child in that way. What we know is this: Kiffin loves risk and he loves the thrill of demonstrating how much smarter he is than those who play by the rules. He is a narcissist. It is no exaggeration to suggest that he is pathological. And so he will strike again. Eventually, he will let the air out of his own once-promising career.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Former Knick Anthony Mason dies at age 48

Report: Blackhawks, Caps discussed Patrick Sharp trade

Giancarlo Stanton was 'angered' over $325 million offer

Colts, Cardinals, Cowboys interested in Adrian Peterson?

How much will Rousey and Zingano make for their fight?

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Browns agree to three-year deal with Josh McCown

Bulls general manager expects Derrick Rose back in 4-6 weeks

Ray Allen reportedly will not sign with Cavaliers if he returns

Shane Vereen squashes rumor he wants $5 million per season

Jon Gruden on Meyer: 'Greatest coaching job of all time'

Vince Young to work out at NFL Veteran Combine

WATCH: Montrezl Harrell throws down monster alley-oop

WATCH: Tyler Hansbrough, Festus Ezeli ejected for fight

WATCH: Russell Westbrook literally gets dent in his face

WATCH: Knicks' Alexey Shved tosses wild pass into stands

Ten players ready to make the leap in 2015

WATCH: Reggie Bush says he won't quit football

PHOTO: ECHL team will wear Dr. Seuss jerseys

Report: Baron Davis in talks to join a contending team

Earl Lloyd and basketball’s cruel February

Pirates issue statement about ISIS executioner in team hat

WATCH: Dress debate threatens to derail Brooklyn Nets’ season

FIFA gave Fox the 2026 World Cup to avoid a lawsuit

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Anthony Mason dies at age 48

Westbrook got dent in his cheek

Earl Lloyd and basketball’s cruel February

WATCH: Barkley rips analytics again

A-Rod: A con man returns to baseball

Bostick death threats show why some fans take sports too seriously

Russell Westbrook is surging into the MVP conversation

Five-round NFL Mock Draft

Key offseason moves for every MLB team

Rousey, Arianny Celeste get into it

Dallas sportscaster back with another powerful essay

The parallels of Rose and Hardaway

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.