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Lane Kiffin defends Barkley by ripping USC’s defense, which was coached by his father

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Lane Kiffin managed to make defending his former quarterback right before the NFL draft into a "Did he say that?" moment.

[Also: Combine math makes overachievers of Northwestern, Mississippi]

In an interview with, the USC coach said Matt Barkley was under-appreciated by Trojans fans. No real problem with that. And then he went on.

"I think he's going to be a great starting quarterback in the NFL, and the film shows it," Kiffin said, according to "The plays he makes, all the throws he's made here, the leadership qualities ... I've said this before: If Matt Barkley had the defense that Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer had, Matt Barkley would have won the Heisman Trophy just like they did. He would have had the winning records they had."

Three issues with that quote:

1. It's not true in the slightest.

2. Many of those same defensive players Kiffin just threw under the bus will be back to play for him next year.

3. One person who bears the major blame for the defensive problems is the coordinator. That coordinator was Monte Kiffin, who happens to be Lane's father.

Other than that, though, no big deal.

Barkley threw for 3,273 yards, more than 400 fewer than Heisman winner Johnny Manziel (who ran for a few yards too, you may recall), and he threw for 15 interceptions. The defense wasn't responsible for that. A better record for USC wasn't going to vault him past Manziel's transcendent season.

Most sane people understand that. So what might stick is the decision to include the failures of his defense, led by his old man, in pumping up Barkley. USC's defense wasn't good, and Monte Kiffin resigned at the end of the season, likely to avoid an awkward situation for his son. Even though the Trojans defense struggled, there just doesn't seem to be a ton of upside in Lane Kiffin kicking it two months after the season. His father in particular probably didn't need the reminder that he performed so poorly last season.

[Also: Four suspended Alabama players 'no longer associated with the team']

At least Lane Kiffin seems to be interested in keeping this offseason lively.

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