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While Kiffin claimed he didn't hear about the officials' discovery until Sunday, Oregon coach Chip Kelly told SiriusXM's College Sports Nation channel Thursday he heard about it after the game.
"It doesn't affect us," Kelly said. "I mean, we worry every day, or are concerned with every day, of what we can control and what we can't control, and what other teams do doesn't really affect what we're doing."
USC announced the Pac-12's fine and reprimand late Wednesday night, well after every member of the program except Kiffin is done talking to the media for the week. Barkley and his offensive teammates only speak to reporters for a few moments on Tuesday mornings -- another part of a strict policy on injury reporting and media access instituted by Kiffin this season, ending USC's tradition of famously open practices and Kiffin's own largely cordial relationship with Los Angeles media before the last few months.
While Kiffin has been fairly successful on the field, particularly given the Trojans' NCAA-mandated scholarship limitations, the underinflated footballs are just the latest minor misstep adding up to a potentially major problem. Kiffin's apparent predilections for cutthroat competition and gamesmanship have followed him from USC to the Oakland Raiders to Tennessee and back again.
Last month, USC backup quarterback Cody Kessler took off his No. 6 jersey and put on No. 35 while playing on special teams against Colorado, even running for a 2-point conversion attempt with the new jersey. Players are allowed to wear different jerseys for many reasons during games, but it's widely considered deceptive, if not unethical, to change numbers during a game specifically to confuse an opponent.
USC also is still the FBS' most penalized team with 85 penalties for 702 yards, even after a relatively clean game against Oregon. The Trojans counter that they were a mostly clean team last season, and that the Pac-12 has seven of FBS' 16 most-penalized teams, perhaps indicating more about the conference's officiating crews than the schools' play.
But after USC's latest brush against propriety, even Kiffin acknowledged it's fair to wonder whether his staff has created a culture of moral relativism, where a student might deflate footballs on his own just to try to gain an advantage.
"I don't believe that at all," he said. "I believe this was a very isolated incident that had nothing to do with the coaches or the players on this team."
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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