Lane Kiffin fined $10,000 and T.J. McDonald is suspended by Pac-12
USC Coach Lane Kiffin has been reprimanded and fined $10,000 for critical comments about officiating and Trojans safety T.J. McDonald has been suspended for a half for making a late hit in last week’s triple-overtime loss to Stanford, the Pacific 12 Conference announced Monday night.
Kiffin criticized game officials after the game and again Sunday for failing to give the Trojans an opportunity to kick a potential game-winning field goal at the end of regulation. The Trojans lost, 56-48.
“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,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “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 had said that he spoke with an unnamed Pac-12 official by phone from the locker room and told the person, "I was basically lied to."
The final play of regulation began with nine seconds left, when receiver Robert Woods caught a screen pass from Matt Barkley. Instead of dropping to the ground after the catch and calling timeout, Woods ran across the field toward the Stanford sideline.
Kiffin said he had been calling for a timeout, and that during the replay review, he told the side judge to tell the referee so the Trojans would get a final play from the Stanford 33-yard line if one second remained.
"He went over there and then came back to me and said he communicated with him, and that if his knee was down with a second left we'd get another play," Kiffin said. "And unfortunately now [I find out] that never happened."
Referee Mike Batlan has said that time had expired.
Kiffin also took issue with the spot of the ball after a holding penalty against Stanford in the second overtime, joking that his 2-year-old son had figured out the correct the yardage.
Kiffin said he respectully disagrees with the suspension of 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," Kiffin said. "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.
"As for my reprimand and fine, 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."
McDonald was suspended "for his hit on a defenseless opponent," late in the fourth quarter against Stanford.
McDonald will sit out the first half of Friday night's game at Colorado.
“While Mr. McDonald was appropriately penalized on the field, I have deemed it necessary to add a a half-game suspension,” said Scott. “This process was part of our weekly review of all targeting and unnecessary roughness hits.”
Scott added: “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."
T.J. McDonald said his hit was not intended to harm his opponent.
"I accept my penalty and I apologize to my teammates, to our Trojan fans and to the Stanford team," McDonald said. "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."
More later at latimes.com/sports.
Photo: USC Coach Lane Kiffin complains at the end of regulation that one second should be left on the clock. Credit: Gary A. Vasquez / US Presswire