USC coach Lane Kiffin is trying to quash his team’s public verbal bashing of Notre Dame after several of his players publicly accused the Irish of giving up after during the fourth quarter of the Trojans’ 31-17 win in South Bend on Saturday night.
Kiffin said today he called Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly and also issued a public statement in an effort to paper over the mini-controversy. Unfortunately, he only apologized for one of the many comments out of the Trojan camp in the past couple days, including his own.
“On behalf of our football program, I apologize for Chris Galippo‘s statements after the game. I’ve addressed this with Chris and he is remorseful,” Kiffin said in a statement. “I also called Coach [Brian] Kelly to personally apologize. As I said to the media immediately after the game, I thought Notre Dame played extremely hard throughout the game. It was another classic rivalry game and we feel fortunate to have won.”
Kelly refused to get into a war of words with USC and acknowledged making mistakes during the game’s final minutes, including not using any of the Irish’s three timeouts as USC killed nearly seven minutes’ worth of clock on ten consecutive running plays to end the game.
“I think right around the 3:30 mark is when I started to think about the potential for using timeouts. Just never felt like the right situation,” Kelly said. “I think we were in a number of second and shorts, and where the ball was, I don’t know, intuitively, instinctively, I didn’t pull the trigger on a timeout.
Galippo, who tweeted his apology Monday, had the most publicized comments after the game after questioning Notre Dame’s strategy.
“At the end there, when they didn’t call those timeouts, they just quit,” Galippo said after the game. “That’s what Notre Dame football is about. They’re not anything like USC.”
But running back Marc Tyler and quarterback Matt Barkley also chimed in. Barkley told a Los Angeles radio station Monday that he agreed with the assertion that Notre Dame players had thrown in the towel.
“It seemed from our sideline and our perspective that they did give up,” Barkley told 710 ESPN. “It seemed uncharacteristic of Notre Dame. I wouldn’t have wanted to have been on that sideline.”
Kiffin isn’t blameless in all this. Even he had choice words about the final minutes, stating that he was shocked the Irish didn’t use their timeouts and try to get back in the game.
“The game was far from over,” Kiffin said after the game. “Obviously, over two minutes left with three timeouts, there’s a lot of football left. But I’m not complaining.”
But Kelly said his team is ripe for ridicule after the way it played against the Trojans.
“Our guys know what happened. They got their butts beat,” Kelly said. “They didn’t play very well, and that comes with it. You get what you deserve.”