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Sun Bowl Desmadre: Trojans Can’t Seem to Contain Their Own Spills [OPINION]

20121227-124901.jpgIt was a first, that’s for sure. After having to wait over 40 minutes for Utah at last year’s Sheriff’s Posse Dinner, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson wasn’t about to accept another Pac-12 diss to start his second straight Hyundai Sun Bowl experience. So, after waiting 40 minutes for USC to show up for the annual kickoff feed and talent show, he put officials on notice — 10 more minutes and the Yellowjackets would say, “Adios!

The 10 minutes came and went. And so did Georgia Tech.

The Sheriff’s Posse Dinner is a chance for the teams to unwind after a whirlwind day of travel and practice by eating together and showing their off-the-field skills in a talent show.

It’s fun and games, not fun and mind games, even if it was unintentional. Asking the Yellowjackets to wait…again? Not cool, Trojans.

USC’s sports information tried offering the excuse that the Trojans’ flight was late, which meant USC was late to practice and late to the dinner.

But, with a longer flight from Atlanta, Georgia Tech skipped pratice to make time for scheduled events. The Yellowjackets arrived two hours after USC, but had organized their schedule so they would arrive — promptly — at 6:30 p.m.

The Trojans’ official explanation stated Tech had left 75 minutes early to get to Sunland Park Racetrack and Casino, host for the event. If they had done so, via I-10 Georgia Tech would have been halfway to Arizona by the time the dinner started.

Head coach Lane Kiffin can apologize all he wants — and he did, by the way — but it’s just bad form. And, judging from the social media attached to two of his players already, it really seems like USC is more than disappointed to be playing in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.

First, Trojans linebacker Tony Burnett when USC first found out it was headed to the Sun City:

20121227-125718.jpg

Then, the Sheriff’s Posse mess.

Then, a little after midnight Thursday morning, freshman defensive tackle Leonard Williams chimed in with a delightful tweet:

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Sure, Lane Kiffin came in with a bad reputation. Sure, people are ready to pounce on every little misstep USC makes. But you’d think that would put your team on point to work a little harder on the little things, especially if games like the Hyundai Sun Bowl are supposed to be kickstarters for next season.

That’s what this is, incidentally. Auditions for 2013 have begun. Anyone thinking the Trojans shouldn’t be holding out quarterback Matt Barkley — that they owe this game some star power — don’t understand that. It will be freshman Max Wittek’s team next season, so the best thing Kiffin could do is let Barkley continue to heal while getting his expected starter all the reps and game action he can handle now.

But there are obviously some off-field issues the Men of Troy need to clean up, too. Pre-season Number One to a 7-5 regular season finish says so.

You hear analysts talk about “body language” during games — how bad body language usually means an attitude of resignation. USC may have started 2013 on the field, but poor time management and the inability of some players to seem even remotely grateful for a bowl berth show — its body language is pretty bad right now.

The Trojans just can’t seem to catch that. Not even with a reservoir tip.

CHAD MIDDLETON: THE HYUNDAI SUN BOWL IS BIGGER THAN ANY TEAM

This article was corrected to reflect the fact that Georgia Tech did not practice the day of its arrival in El Paso. –DK

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