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USC football: Tennessee Titans lawsuit against USC and Lane Kiffin on third judge

January 24, 2011 |  6:46 pm


The saga of USC Coach Lane Kiffin and his time in Tennessee continues.

A story on the Tennessean newspaper's website said the lawsuit filed by the Tennessee Titans against USC and Kiffin last July is in front of its third federal judge after two stepped down from the case fearing their impartiality could be questioned.

A trial date is preliminarily set for Aug. 2, the story said.

The lawsuit was filed after Kiffin, who angered many in the Voulnteer state when he left the University of Tennessee for USC after 14 months, hired Titans assistant Kennedy Pola as offensive coordinator and running backs coach. The move came right before the NFL team was scheduled to open training camp.

The Tennessean's story said Todd J. Campbell, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, stepped down because he was worried that observers could accuse him of favoring USC.

"One of my children is applying to the University of Southern California, and I was literally standing on the campus when I received notification on my BlackBerry that the case had been assigned to me," Campbell told the Tennessean. "I thought that my impartiality could be reasonably questioned."

Judge Aleta A. Trauger told the newspaper that she recused herself because her husband was involved in negotiations to bring the Titans to Nashville. The case was reassigned to Senior Judge John T. Nixon.

--Gary Klein

Photo: USC Coach Lane Kiffin with assistants Clay Helton and Kennedy Pola on the sideline during a game last season. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times