Lane Kiffin relinquishes voting duty

LOS ANGELES -- Did he, or didn't he? Will he, or won't he?

USC coach Lane Kiffin, a first-time voting member of the USA Today college football coaches' poll, has pulled out -- after just one vote, for the preseason standings -- and won't continue to submit selections after the newspaper revealed his vote last week. He also apologized for the controversy caused.

"It is an opportunity and responsibility that I do not take lightly," he said in a letter to USA Today and Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association. "However, I find it necessary to relinquish my voting status."

Kiffin told reporters last week he wouldn't select his USC Trojans as the No. 1 team in the country, when in fact he did. The USA Today then released his vote, citing a desire to "protect the poll's integrity" and Kiffin's providing of "false or misleading information."

Votes are normally kept confidential until the final poll of the year. Kiffin defended his vote to the newspaper by saying his players would have found out one way or another.

The Trojans' coach offered an official apology for his vote after his team practiced on Monday.

"I apologize if somehow anybody thought I was misleading them," Kiffin said. "By far, I had no intent of misleading anybody. I was simply answering a question that one of you guys asked me in reference to if I was that person.

"I apologize if somebody took that the wrong way. I didn't mean to go that way."

Kiffin uttered the original comment -- "I would not vote USC No. 1, I can tell you that much" -- when told about Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez's assertion that he had put the Trojans at the top of his voting list.

He has since said he was trying to speak from the perspective of opposing coaches like Rodriguez.

Kiffin informed the newspaper of his decision to cease voting on Sunday, he said. The USA Today told him it was not an inconvenience because it was "so early, it'll be easy to replace us," Kiffin said.

He said he wished he hadn't agreed to vote in the poll to begin with, like his predecessor Pete Carroll. There isn't enough time in his schedule to watch all the other top-25 contenders around the country and rank them appropriately.

"Thinking back, I wouldn't have done it in the first place, but I didn't think about it enough," Kiffin said Monday. "I just don't think I can do it very well -- know the whole entire country and who they are when we are flying back on the plane trip and turn a vote in at 7 a.m."

Asked if he'd be upset if it came down to the coaches' poll in the BCS rankings and the Trojans were one vote away from being the No. 2 team in the country, Kiffin said no.

"Because that means we had a pretty good season," he said. "If we're one point behind No. 2, then we've had a good season.

"And, from what I know, it's never come down to one vote."

Pedro Moura covers USC for ESPNLosAngeles.com.