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Kiffin's airport firing, Clowney's antics and other missed calls

In college football, people study up, but there are things no one sees coming. This season, the list includes USC coach's 4 a.m. dismissal and hyped South Carolina defensive end being a bust.

October 09, 2013|Chris Dufresne
  • South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney greets fans during the Gamecock Walk before before a game against Kentucky at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., on Saturday.
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney greets fans during the Gamecock… (Kim Kim Foster-Tobin / McClatchy-Tribune )

You prepare for a season with flash cards: The nickname of Texas State is….?


You purchase the best college football magazines, re-read "Death to the BCS," and hang on every one of Kirk Herbstreit's words.

There are still things you never see coming:

•-Jadeveon Clowney will be a bust.

What? South Carolina's all-world defensive end entered the season as the most hyped player by ESPN since Tim Tebow.

It was said the only person who could stop Clowney was Clowney, which turned out to be true — he took himself out of the lineup last Saturday.

Clowney has only two sacks and 12 tackles and has clouded his enormous NFL upside with some unusual behavior.

Is Clowney faking injury? Did an agent get in his ear? Will he ever play another game in college?

It took three days for Crisis Control to get everyone on the same page, and that led to Coach Steve Spurrier reading from prepared notes and saying, "we all handled it poorly."

Clowney told the State newspaper, "I will be back on the field" but we're still not sure whether it will be in the SEC or the NFC.

•Pat Haden will fire Lane Kiffin at 4 a.m. in an airport.

Everyone knew Kiffin was a Lane-Duck this season, but classy USC had never fired a coach during the season.

Even athletic directors in the cold-blooded SEC allow coaches one last cigarette before blowing out their lights.

It would have been more civil for Haden to fire Kiffin at a coffee shop.

He could have at least told Kiffin to meet him at a Denny's: "Oh, and bring your menu."

•Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be criticized by former Auburn Coach Pat Dye.

After word leaked that Rice is likely to be a member of the new playoff selection committee, Dye said he didn't think Rice was qualified because she had never drawn up a play in the dirt.

That's like saying Shelby Foote wasn't qualified to write about the Civil War because he didn't fight at Gettysburg.

Two minutes of research and Dye could have learned Rice grew up in Alabama as the only daughter of a high school football coach and athletic director. According to a 2007 ESPN story celebrating Black History Month, her dad put a football in Condi's crib.

After her dad joined the University of Denver faculty, members of the Denver Broncos who visited the Rice home were amazed at her acumen for Xs and O's.

Her dream job, she said, was to be NFL commissioner.

My guess is Rice will be the most prepared member on the committee. She might still get her daily briefs from former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, a longtime consultant for the BCS.

•Baylor will average 70 points per game through four games.

Everyone knew Baylor was Oregon's offense played in less rain, but what's happening in Waco is just Wacko.

Baylor is the first team in 83 years to score at least 70 points in three consecutive games.

But here's the cautionary rub: Like Louisiana State in 1930, Baylor hasn't played anyone yet, with wins over Wofford, Buffalo, Louisiana Monroe and West Virginia.

LSU opened the 1930 campaign with wins over Dakota Wesleyan, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana Lafayette by the scores of 76-0, 71-0 and 85-0.

The Tigers then scored 12 combined points in consecutive road losses to South Carolina and Mississippi State. LSU lost four of its final seven to finish 6-4.

•Stanford Coach David Shaw and Washington's Steve Sarkisian will engage in a public war of words.

We could buy former Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh and Sark going jaw to jaw, but Shaw? He is normally more guarded than the Queen of England, but this week he went on the offensive.

Shaw opened his segment on the Pac-12 Conference coaches call by blasting Sarkisian for suggesting Stanford players were faking injuries during last Saturday's game at Palo Alto. "I don't care what Steve Sarkisian thinks he saw," Shaw said.

Shaw said Sarkisian's comments were "unprofessional." He said the only coach he knew accused of ordering players to fake injuries was a current Washington assistant. Sarkisian staffer Tosh Lupoi was suspended one game in 2010 when he was an assistant at Cal.

Asked to respond later on the call, Sarkisian said, "I'm done with the subject."

Ah, too bad.

•Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion in October will be leading the nation in passing yardage and touchdown passes.

This would have been news to some of us who weren't sure whether Mannion was going to even beat out Cody Vaz as the Beavers starter.

Not only did Mannion win the job, he has statistically outperformed bigger names such as Johnny Manziel, Jameis Winston, Teddy Bridgewater, Bryce Petty and Tajh Boyd.

Mannion leads the nation with 2,018 passing yards and 21 touchdown passes.

So he must be getting some Heisman Trophy consideration, right?

Not a whiff.

•UCLA will be No. 11 in the polls while leading the nation in penalties.

The Oakland Raiders used to win like this but it seems very un-UCLA like.

Actually, several Pac-12 schools rank among the NCAA's most penalized teams. It could be a result of the league having more up-tempo offenses and running more plays per game.

•Boise State, on Oct. 9, will be in third place in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West.

The Broncos were preseason No. 19 in the Associated Press poll and prohibitive favorites to earn the last non-AQ BCS bid his season. But two early losses have the Broncos looking up at Wyoming in the standings.

•Pac-12 refs will make at least one bad call that will impact the outcome of an important game.

Oh wait…everyone saw that coming.

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