Lane Kiffin: End-of-Game Officiating Was Wrong, But We Had Other Opportunities

Didn’t mince many words when discussing some of the officiating in Saturday’s epic three-overtime battle with Stanford after the game. A few days later, he still isn’t happy about it, particularly a penalty called on the Trojans late in regulation and then the final play of regulation when receiver Robert Woods couldn’t get out of bounds but Kiffin tried to call a timeout. A couple of those situations are highlighted here. All of that said, Kiffin did temper some of his anger in the following interview, mentioning several times that those things weren’t correct, but that the Trojans had other opportunities to win the game and didn’t. Lane Kiffin joined The Dan Patrick Show to discuss putting USC’s heartbreaking loss to Stanford behind him, watching film of the game, the plays that he keeps watching over and over, the final play of regulation, the play of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, how his quarterback played and the potential to keep Matt Barkley around for another year.

How do you put this kind of loss behind you?:

“You have to. It’s no different than the week before, coming off a big win in South Bend where there’s a lot of questions about would they come back for another physical game and our players did. They responded. You can’t keep sitting around dwelling on it. We’ve got to move on.”

How many times have you watched the game?:

“A lot. I don’t watch the TV copy, I watch the other film. … Those are the hardest games, where one play can make a difference. Both teams played great. Both teams played their hearts out and the game could’ve went either way. Those are the hardest ones to deal with because it’s just one inch here, one thing here or there and the game changes.”

What’s the play that you keep replaying?:

“Well, the end of the game and just Marqise Lee makes a great play and his foot’s out of bounds by two inches and then it’s first-and-goal from the four and … it looks like we’re going to score and go to another overtime. Unfortunately the ball pops out. That and really I just with the T.J. McDonald penalty wouldn’t have happened just because it makes Andrew Luck go to a fourth-and-seven in their own territory there with two minutes left in the game. It would’ve been an interesting play.”

On the end-of-game situation where the clock ran out but you attempted to call a timeout:

“It was wrong. Don’t tell me one thing and have a communication process that’s supposed to take place with officials and then that didn’t really happen. I was disappointed with that for our players that they didn’t get the right opportunity to have a chance to win it. But even with that … we had a bunch more opportunities to finish the game off and, unfortunately, we didn’t.”

What did you think of Andrew Luck?:

“Same as always. I’ve said perfect and he really kind of was outside of one play.”

And how about your quarterback, Matt Barkley? It felt like he really rose to the challenge and took this game like it was his bowl game:

“This wasn’t our bowl game. We’ve still got a huge game versus Oregon. The game before was a huge game in South Bend. … We’ve had some big games and we’ll be having some more big games. But I do think he did play really well. I don’t think he treated it any different. … Really we’re just a couple inches away from having a big statistical day. … I thought he managed the game really well. … Matt did everything that he could.”

Can you use the fact that probation is over and you can be bowl eligible next year to keep Barkley on campus?:

“That’s going to be part of the conversation and he knows that already. We joke about it and stuff. He’s going to have, obviously, a big decision to make. He can go be an early first-round pick, which he will be. Or, he can stay and have a chance to come here when it was at it’s brightest, coming off of seven straight BCS bowls, and then the dark clouds … and then ride us back to the top. It’s going to be a big decision and we’ll support whichever way he wants to go.”

That’s got to be tough for you, because you know he’s NFL-ready but would love for him to stay:

“I think Matt, just being around him for two years, I think Matt understands that I have the best interest for him. I would never tell him to stay when he’s going to get drafted where I think he is. … Matt’s just a different person. Matt is the type of guy that will really think about this and will possibly stay because of the factors of being a special USC guy that comes back as a three-time captain and four-year starter. … The money and fame isn’t what it would be to a lot of kids.”

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