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When the son outshines the father

Two years ago, Monte Kiffin, perhaps the most celebrated defensive coach in NFL history, left his beloved Tampa football home and took a $700,000 pay cut to buoy the college coaching career of son Lane.

Today, Monte's defense is drowning him.

Two years ago, Monte sacrificed a pro career that included a Super Bowl championship, 11 top-10 defenses, and credit for designing the popular Tampa Cover 2 scheme, all in hopes of helping Lane win.

Today, Monte's defense is getting him beat.

USC would have won the first five games of Lane's career if its defense had not been flattened down the stretch of its last-second, 32-31 loss to Washington last week. USC would not have dropped steadily in the rankings while winning those first four games if its defense was not ranked 99th in the nation.

Lane's offense is working. Monte's defense is not. And now the nepotism naysayers have surfaced, the long-unspoken question being shouted from the depths of cyberspace.

Would the son ever have the guts to fire the father?

Said Monte: "You know, I'm up in the press box, I don't really hear that."

Said Lane: "People are really saying that?"

It's hurting Lane that his father is hurting so much over this.

"Can you imagine leaving something you love to take care of your child, and then to feel like you've let him down?" Lane said. "I keep telling my father that it's about all of us, but he's not hearing that."

Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times

Syracuse seeks Big East success

Doug Marrone understands the challenge still ahead of him in making Syracuse a competitive part of the Big East.

In the five years since USF joined the league, Syracuse is 4-31 in conference play, with 27 of those losses coming by 10 points or more.

"We have a difficult task going down there," Marrone said this week. "It doesn't change for us. We haven't won a lot of football games. We're trying to win football games. We're going to try to win against a very good South Florida team."

Syracuse's 3-1 start is encouraging, but two of the three wins are against I-AA opponents in Colgate and Maine; the lone I-A win is against Akron, which is 0-5 this season. The Orange are the only Big East opponent the Bulls have never lost to since joining the league.

Here are the conference records for all eight Big East teams since 2005:

West Virginia 27-8

Cincinnati 23-12

Rutgers 20-15

Pittsburgh 19-16

USF 17-18

Louisville 16-19

Connecticut 14-21

Syracuse 4-31

If there's one area where the Orange have an advantage, it would be in a close game, decided by 10 points or fewer. Syracuse is 3-4 in those games in conference play since '05, while USF is 3-9 under the same circumstances.

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

West best, East least

Coaches in the SEC believe the balance in power shifts regularly between the East and West divisions.

Maybe, but right now there's little doubt which one is on top.

West schools are 7-1 this year against their East rivals and boast four teams in the top 12, including No. 1 Alabama and No. 8 Auburn.

The East has just two ranked teams — No. 14 Florida and No. 19 South Carolina.

The West is favored in two of the three interdivisional matchups this weekend.

Kentucky LB Danny Trevathan says the difference between the divisions is offense. Five of the top six offenses are West schools, as are four of the top six scoring offenses.

Quotable

"The pressure of being No. 1 and repeating hasn't even started yet for Alabama. As they talk about how they are handling everything, they don't even know how it's going to build. I saw it in Florida last year. It's like what they say about the Masters, that it doesn't start until the back nine on Sunday. Alabama is not even to the back nine on Sunday yet. South Carolina might be the 10th hole. It really is going to start now. The pressure's going to start mounting."

CBS analyst Gary Danielson

By the numbers

102 Touchdowns thrown by ACC quarterbacks this season

1 Rank of the league among Division I-A conferences (The Big 12 is next at 96, the Big Ten has 93 and the SEC 91)

14 TD tosses by North Carolina State's Russell Wilson, second most in the nation

38 Quarterbacks selected in the NFL draft since the last one from the ACC was picked

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

A look at this week's college football scene.

His longtime nickname is "The Mad Hatter," but if LSU coach Les Miles isn't careful, his angry fan base may start calling him "The Clock."

As in clock management. Or lack thereof.

For the second consecutive season, Miles and the Tigers demonstrated poor clock management.

In last week's 16-14 victory over Tennessee, there was mass confusion on third and goal from the Tennessee 1. Fearing the clock would run out, center Bob Hebert snapped the ball with four seconds remaining, but it was low and outside, and QB Jordan Jefferson missed it as it bounced toward the 20. The game seemingly ended. But the Vols were flagged for having 13 players on the field. LSU RB Stevan Ridley bulled in from the 1 on the next play for the win as the clock finally expired.

"I don't know if we could have planned it any poorer," Miles said. Actually, they have. In last season's 25-23 loss to Ole Miss.

After recovering an onside kick, Jefferson completed a pass to Terrance Tolliver at the Ole Miss 6 with one second left. The Tigers had no timeouts and didn't send the field goal unit onto the field, and the clock expired as they tried to spike the ball, giving Ole Miss a 25-23 win.

Miles took issue with the comparison this week.

"I think it's a completely different scenario," he said. "It's a clock management issue, without question, but it's not the same."

Based on the criticism by analysts and angry fans on the Internet, no one is interested in the distinction.

"I can't really comment on what speculation is on the perimeter," Miles said. "It's not me. I don't operate that way. The only thing I can tell you is I criticize and critique everything that goes on in those games from player to coach, including myself. The only thing I can tell you is we are working on the corrections, and they are ones that can be corrected."

Antonya English, Times staff writer

When the son outshines the father

Two years ago, Monte Kiffin, perhaps the most celebrated defensive coach in NFL history, left his beloved Tampa football home and took a $700,000 pay cut to buoy the college coaching career of son Lane.

Today, Monte's defense is drowning him.

Two years ago, Monte sacrificed a pro career that included a Super Bowl championship with the Bucs, 11 top-10 defenses, and credit for designing the popular Tampa Cover 2 scheme, all in hopes of helping Lane win.

Today, Monte's defense is getting him beat.

USC would have won the first five games of Lane's career if its defense had not been flattened down the stretch in its last-second, 32-31 loss to Washington last week. USC would not have dropped steadily in the rankings while winning those first four games if its defense was not ranked 99th in the nation.

Lane's offense is working. Monte's defense is not. And now the nepotism naysayers have surfaced, the long-unspoken question being shouted from the depths of cyberspace.

Would the son ever have the guts to fire the 70-year-old father?

Said Monte: "You know, I'm up in the press box, I don't really hear that."

Said Lane: "People are really saying that?"

It's hurting Lane that his father is hurting so much over this.

"Can you imagine leaving something you love to take care of your child, and then to feel like you've let him down?" Lane said. "I keep telling my father that it's about all of us, but he's not hearing that."

Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times

Syracuse seeks Big East success

Doug Marrone understands the challenge still ahead of him in making Syracuse a competitive part of the Big East.

In the five years since USF joined the league, Syracuse is 4-31 in conference play, with 27 of those losses coming by 10 points or more.

"We have a difficult task going down there," Marrone said of today's game at Raymond James Stadium. "It doesn't change for us. We haven't won a lot. We're trying to win. We're going to try to win against a very good South Florida team."

Syracuse's 3-1 start is encouraging, but two of the wins are against Division I-AA opponents in Colgate and Maine; the lone I-A win is against Akron, which is 0-5 this season. The Orange is the only Big East opponent the Bulls have never lost to since joining the league.

Here are the conference records for all eight Big East teams since 2005:

West Virginia 27-8

Cincinnati 23-12

Rutgers 20-15

Pittsburgh 19-16

USF 17-18

Louisville 16-19

Connecticut 14-21

Syracuse 4-31

If there's one area where the Orange has an advantage, it would be in a close game, decided by 10 points or fewer. Syracuse is 3-4 in those games in conference play since 2005, while USF is 3-9 under the same circumstances.

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

West best, East least

Coaches in the SEC believe the balance of power shifts regularly between the East and West divisions.

Maybe, but right now there's little doubt which one is on top.

West schools are 7-1 this year against their East rivals and boast four teams in the top 12, including No. 1 Alabama and No. 8 Auburn.

The East has just two ranked teams: No. 14 Florida and No. 19 South Carolina.

The West is favored in two of the three interdivisional matchups this weekend.

Kentucky LB Danny Trevathan says the difference between the divisions is offense. Five of the top six offenses are West schools, as are four of the top six scoring offenses.

Quotable

"The pressure of being No. 1 and repeating hasn't even started yet for Alabama. As they talk about how they are handling everything, they don't even know how it's going to build. I saw it in Florida last year. It's like what they say about the Masters, that it doesn't start until the back nine on Sunday. Alabama is not even to the back nine on Sunday yet. South Carolina might be the 10th hole. It really is going to start now. The pressure's going to start mounting."

Gary Danielson, CBS analyst

By the numbers

102 Touchdowns thrown by ACC quarterbacks this season.

1 ACC's rank among Division I-A conferences in TD passes (Big 12 is next at 96, Big Ten has 93 and SEC 91).

14 TD tosses by N.C. State's Russell Wilson, second most in Division I-A behind Hawaii's Bryant Moniz (15).

38 Quarterbacks selected in the NFL draft since the last one from the ACC was picked.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Five things

1. F

Around college football 10/08/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 8, 2010 9:58pm]

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