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USC's Lane Kiffin can't get away from questions about Tennessee

After firing of basketball coach Bruce Pearl over NCAA inquiry disclosures, football coach says he's not concerned he might face NCAA sanctions linked to his 14-month tenure in Knoxville.

March 24, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • USC Coach Lane Kiffin isn't concerned he will face sanctions related to an NCAA investigation into Tennessee's athletics program.
USC Coach Lane Kiffin isn't concerned he will face sanctions related… (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles…)

Lane Kiffin is two workouts into his second spring at USC, but he is still fielding questions about his time at Tennessee.

Bruce Pearl, who admitted that he provided misleading and incorrect information to NCAA investigators, was fired this week as basketball coach at Tennessee.

In the wake of Pearl's firing, Kiffin was asked Thursday whether he was concerned that he might be suspended by the NCAA's Committee on Infractions.

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Last month, after an investigation into Tennessee's athletic program, USC and Kiffin received a notice of allegations from the NCAA regarding Kiffin's 14-month tenure in Knoxville. The NCAA said Kiffin "failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failed to monitor the activities regarding compliance" of several assistant coaches and an athletics administrator involved with the football program.

A hearing for Tennessee and Kiffin is scheduled for June.

"I don't have a concern for it because I know, and as you read reports [about Pearl], I think when you look at those things it has to do with issues of how you deal with the NCAA and how you communicate with them through the process," Kiffin said. "I don't think that that is a question at all in this situation."

Young quarterbacks coming along

Max Wittek and Cody Kessler are taking steps.

The freshmen quarterbacks enrolled at USC in January to get a jumpstart on their careers and compete with redshirt freshman Jesse Scroggins to become Matt Barkley's back-up.

On Thursday, they completed their second workouts of spring practice.

"They've come a long way since they first got here," Barkley said.

Kessler, who played at Bakersfield Centennial High, attributed some of that progress to Barkley.

"Matt's been great about helping us out," Kessler said. "In the film room, he'll add little side comments to let us know what we're reading."

Wittek, who like Barkley played at Santa Ana Mater Dei High, said the transition from high school to college has gone smoothly.

"I'm getting a better feel for the offense and getting more acclimated with the team," Wittek said. "It definitely does take a little bit of getting used to coming from high school, but it's going good."

Quick hits

Tailback Marc Tyler could miss all of spring practice after suffering a hamstring injury Tuesday. "I know from the guys who've hurt their hamstrings that it took them a long time to get back," Tyler said…. The Trojans are practicing in the morning, and Kiffin said they would probably continue to do so in the fall. "It looks that we are," he said. "We just have to make sure that we can get everybody's schedules blocked out in the fall to be able to do it."…. Jacksonville Jaguars Coach Jack Del Rio, an All-American linebacker at USC, attended practice with his son.

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