Lane Kiffin indifferent about poll

LOS ANGELES -- USC coach Lane Kiffin responded Friday to USA Today's decision to release his coaches' poll vote despite traditional rules that keep the votes private until the final poll of the season.

Earlier this week, Kiffin said he "would not vote" the Trojans No. 1 overall when told that Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez mentioned he did. When USA Today caught wind of Kiffin's comments, the newspaper revealed Kiffin did vote USC No. 1, citing his providing of "false or misleading information" to the public and a desire to "set the record straight to protect the poll's integrity."

USC released a statement Thursday night, attributed to senior associate athletic director for media relations Tim Tessalone, that said the newspaper's decision to release Kiffin's vote was "disappointing and attacks the integrity of the poll."

Asked about the poll after his Trojans scrimmaged at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Friday afternoon, Kiffin downplayed the issue and defended his original comments.

"Not a big deal," Kiffin said. "You guys asked me about RichRod and I was saying I wouldn't put us No. 1. I was saying that because of our issues with numbers, from (the perspective of) other people. Did I vote us No. 1? Yeah. I said that when they called me, before they even told me."

USC is under NCAA sanctions and can only have 75 players on scholarship this season as a result. Most schools are allowed up to 85.

Still, Kiffin indicated he voted the Trojans No. 1 because he didn't want players such as Matt Barkley and T.J. McDonald to think he didn't believe in them.

"I don't know how you go in to see these guys and say, 'Hey, thanks for coming back for your senior year, but, by the way, my opinion is I have these other teams ahead of you,' " Kiffin said. "It is what it is."

Asked how his players would have found out if he didn't vote the Trojans No. 1, Kiffin went back to the poll's supposed secrecy.

"Nothing stays private," he said. "This didn't stay private. They say it does, but it doesn't."

Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association which co-directs the poll with the newspaper, told USA Today on Thursday he sent Kiffin a letter about his issue with the comments.

Kiffin said Friday he has not received the letter and has had "no communication" with Teaff about whether he'll be allowed to continue voting.

Asked if he plans to file future ballots, Kiffin was apathetic.

"I don't really care," he said. "Really, it doesn't make sense to me. The coaches vote, and the coaches I know, the good ones, they don't watch other games. They're trying to worry about their own team, watching film.

"Yet we vote on who's best."

The preseason poll was the first time Kiffin voted in the USA Today Coaches' Poll.

He said he filled out the poll "with a group of people helping me."

Pedro Moura covers USC for ESPNLosAngeles.com