LOS ANGELES — The eventful, and at times, humorous banter between USC head coach Lane Kiffin and the USA TODAY over the last few days has come to an end.
Kiffin has decided to give up his vote in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches’ Poll.
After filling out one ballot in the poll, Kiffin wrote a letter to the USA TODAY and American Football Coaches Association executive director Grant Teaff bowing out.
In the letter, Kiffin wrote “It is an opportunity and responsibility that I do not take lightly,” according to USA TODAY. “However, I find it necessary to relinquish my voting status.”
Kiffin was accused of being “misleading” when, last week, he told reporters “I would not vote USC No. 1, I can tell you that.” That was Kiffin’s response to being told that new Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez voted the Trojans No. 1 in his poll. Kiffin contends he was making a statement as if he were another head coach or media member.
After his comments, USA TODAY revealed his vote in order to protect the “integrity” of the poll, which set off a back and forth exchange between USC and the USA TODAY. After the Trojans practiced on Monday, an apologetic Kiffin addressed the media.
“I apologize if somehow anybody thought I was misleading them,” said Kiffin speaking to the media on Monday. “By far, I had no intent of misleading anybody. I was simply answering a question that one of you guys asked me in reference to if I was that person and so I apologize if somebody took that the wrong way. I didn’t mean to go that way. We have informed them that we just made a decision not to continue voting.”
Kiffin says he informed the members on Sunday that he would no longer be participating in the poll. He says he was told it’s early enough in the season for him to drop out and not put any inconvenience on the poll. A replacement will be found for him. The USC head coach said he would not have any regrets about it, even if it meant his team would be left out of the national championship picture by one vote.
“That means we had a pretty good season,” Kiffin said. “If we’re one point behind No. 2 we had a good season. From what I know, it’s never come down to one vote.”
When discussing the issue last week, Kiffin said “it doesn’t make sense” for coaches to vote.
“The coaches I know, the good ones, they don’t watch other games,” Kiffin said last Friday. “They’re trying to worry about their own team, watching film, but we vote on who’s the best.”
One of Kiffin’s mentors, former USC head coach Pete Carroll, never voted in the coaches’ poll nor was he a fan of the BCS and claimed to “not understand how the thing works.” By giving up his vote, Kiffin takes a page out of that philosophy.
“If I could have went back I wouldn’t have done it in the first place but I didn’t think about it enough,” Kiffin said. “I just don’t think I can do it really well and know the whole, entire country and who (the teams) are when I’m flying back on a plane trip and turn (my poll) in at seven in the morning.”