Faced with a not-unexpected first-day-on-the-job grilling, Lane Kiffin already seemed to be blowing smoke. . . .
Kiffin is the very definition of a polarizing figure, supporters enamored by his youth and vitality and detractors wary of his boorishness and snake-oil-salesman artifice. . . .
The coach's sister, Heidi, told Yahoo last fall that a friend of hers used to call her brother "The Helicopter" because "he was always stirring stuff up, always stirring up trouble." . . .
John McKay era at USC: .749 winning percentage in 16 seasons; four national championships; nine conference titles; Heisman Trophy winners Mike Garrett and O.J.
Simpson; 18-11-3 record against UCLA and Notre Dame. . . .
Pete Carroll era at USC: .836 winning percentage in nine seasons; two national championships; seven conference titles; Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush; 16-2 record against UCLA and Notre Dame. . . .
Edge: Carroll. . . .
USC teams coached by Howard Jones won four national titles -- and 75% of their games -- in the 1920s and '30s. . . .
Mark McGwire's weepy confessional brought to mind the scene in "The Godfather" where Johnny Fontane whines to Don Corleone, "I don't know what to do," and the godfather shakes him violently and commands, "You can act like a man!" . . .
Andrew Bynum, who noted on the day he was drafted that he would be compared to Shaquille O'Neal "but I can hit free throws," has made 68% of his NBA foul shots. . . .
O'Neal has made 53%. . . .
Blake Griffin's season-ending knee surgery is a disappointing blow to the Clippers' playoff hopes, of course, but might buy time for embattled Coach Mike Dunleavy. . . .
Ageless Junior Seau, perhaps finally retired, was among the first wave of undergraduates who made themselves available for the NFL draft, announcing 20 years ago next month that he was forgoing his final season of eligibility at USC. . . .
As the NFL playoffs head into their second weekend, the most probable Super Bowl pairing would match Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts against the New Orleans Saints, according to odds posted at BetUS.com, while the least probable would match the New York Jets against the Arizona Cardinals. . . .
Mark Sanchez of the Jets is trying to become the first former USC quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl. . . .
Sunday's shootout between Kurt Warner's Cardinals and Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers would have made for a fantastic Super Bowl -- except for the missed facemask penalty against the Cardinals on the game-winning play. . . .
Before Drew Brees did it this season, the Sporting News reports, Fran Tarkenton in 1975 was the last quarterback 6 feet or shorter to lead the NFL in touchdown passes. . . .
The NCAA tournament is out, but here's something for Dwight Lewis & Co. to shoot for: Since 1961, when USC won its most recent outright conference men's basketball title, the Trojans have finished ahead of UCLA in the conference standings only three times -- and never by more than one game. . . .
Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia are part of a committee that will discuss expanding instant replay in baseball and lengthening the first round of the playoffs to a best-of-seven format. . . .
In order to end their long playoff drought, Anze Kopitar and the Kings might have to hold off late pushes by the Ducks and Detroit Red Wings, who between them have won two of the last three Stanley Cup championships. . . .
John Wooden's first Final Four team had no answer for Jerry Lucas, who had 30 points and 30 rebounds in a 105-84 Ohio State rout of UCLA on Dec. 28, 1961, at the Sports Arena. . . .
Lucas, a three-time Big Ten player of the year, later was named to Sports Illustrated's all-20th century college basketball team along with UCLA's Lew Alcindor, Cincinnati's Oscar Robertson, Princeton's Bill Bradley and North Carolina State's David Thompson. . . .
The Lakers and Kings train there, as did the Raiders, but no sports figure stood taller in El Segundo than longtime El Segundo High baseball coach John Stevenson, who died this week. . . .
A $160-million entertainment complex being developed in New Orleans by Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne will be known, naturally, as "Wayne's World." . . .
The gyrating Fox Sports robot wore out its welcome years ago.