Quick Thoughts on Kiffin and Redshirting

LOS ANGELES CA - SEPTEMBER 11: Running back Dillon Baxter #28 of the USC Trojans carries the ball against the Virginia Cavaliers at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 11 2010 in Los Angeles California. USC won 17-14. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Well, understandably, the news regarding Reggie Bush seems to be creating its own fair share of headlines nationally, and that's fine. It's the Heisman Trophy, it's Bush, and such is to be expected. But nonetheless, we're also three days away an intriguing road game at Minnesota, so in the grand scheme of things, Bush's decision to return the Heisman is largely irrelevant.

In its present state, the program has its own set of issues it needs to address. Penalties, tackling, and various offensive miscues, have all proved to be problem areas in just two games. But one interesting storyline this week, at least for me, is what Kiffin plans to do with some of the younger players. Will he redshirt them, or instead incorporate them into the rotation?

Michael Lev of the Orange County Register has some thoughts on this question:

Coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday that the freshmen who haven't played in the first two games are on track for redshirts. There are 11 players in that group - more than double the number who have played. That's a clear sign that Kiffin is preparing for the looming scholarship reductions.

"We've got to find a way to redshirt some of these guys for what's coming," Kiffin said.

Here's the breakdown:

  • Playing (5): WR Markeith Ambles, RB Dillon Baxter, CB Nickell Robey, DE Christian Thomas, WR Robert Woods
  • Redshirting (11): S Dion Bailey, CB Anthony Brown, OL Giovanni Di Poalo, TE Xavier Grimble, RB D.J. Morgan, WR Kyle Prater, LB Hayes Pullard, QB Jesse Scroggins, TE Randall Telfer, DT George Uko, CB Demetrious Wright

There seems to be two schools of thought regarding the possibility of redshirting a majority of USC's 2010 recruiting class.

One idea is that it's a smart move, saving some players, who might not even play a significant portion of the snaps this season, for the coming years in which depth could prove to be even more of an issue with the scholarship reductions.

Another commonly held belief seems to be that doing such would be an admittance that this season is a wash, and if that's the case, it's incredibly disturbing.

Is there a bowl game to play for? No. A conference championship? Not technically. A national championship? Not unless the Associated Press title is your cup of tea.

But Kiffin is smart enough, to realize that despite the limited options in terms of hardware, 2010 is still incredibly important. He may be inexperienced as a head coach, but he isn't silly enough to mortgage this season for the coming years. This year is all about perception, which is what largely drives recruiting. If 'SC looks like it's on a down swing, targeting a class of 15 recruits is going to become all the more difficult.

No, this team doesn't need to run the table, finish 13-0, and win an AP national title, but it does need to stay relevant in a positive sense, and that will only happen through winning. The last thing the program needs is to become obsolete on Saturdays.

Kiffin understands this. It's just about juggling the balls. All roads lead to the recruiting trail.


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