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Texas rejection of Pac-10 bid puts USC in spotlight

There are times when Texas pride can be downright insufferable, as during a recent period of political wackiness in which the current governor, Rick Perry, spoke of his state seceding from the union.

There are other times, such as last week, when Texas pride seems deserving. The University of Texas declined an invitation to join the Pacific 10 Conference, thereby rescuing the Big 12 Conference, with its heavy southwestern complexion, from embarrassment and oblivion.

The Longhorns' decision to play "Texas hold 'em" approved a plan by Kansas and four other conference schools who weren't wooed by the Pac-10 to pay Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M part of their Big 12 Conference revenue to forego the offer to jump.

Does this entire college sports episode sound more than a bit gamey? It is.

With the Pac-10's star attraction, USC, up to its shoulder pads in scandal and out of the big-time bowl picture for the foreseeable future, Texas would have been the ideal star replacement. Consider the school's glittery football history with stars such as Bobby Layne, Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Colt McCoy and a dozen others added to the Pacific conference without being as near as a day's drive to the ocean.

So what looked like a shameful scramble for the buck now looks more like a mere semi-shameful scramble for the buck. USC won't get to hide its ugly sports face behind the Longhorns, Oklahoma, UCLA and all those new-look southwestern teams.

Pete Carroll, the so-called wonder coach, caught the last train out of L.A. as the scandal was about to fully burst. He's now back in the NFL, coaching the Seattle Seahawks, a team as resoundingly mediocre as the Patriots and Jets of the '90s, whom he served as head coach in less than glittery style and became the only pro coach in memory to be fired by two different teams in the same decade. In Seattle he'll duel with Washington Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian, Carroll's former top aide with the Trojans who has a similar brash style.

Meanwhile, USC hurried to hire Lane Kiffin, who in two years spawned a lot of headlines but a sparse amount of victories with the NFL's Oakland Raiders and then the University of Tennessee. He stayed at Tennessee just long enough, barely a year, to digest a corn dog, crash a leased automobile and alienate every other head coach in the Southeastern Conference.

In his introductory news conference as USC coach, Kiffin was asked how he could betray the players he recruited in his short stay at Tennessee. The roving coach replied "I never once told those players I would stay for a long time."

So it goes in the world of the student-athlete.

Larry Felser, former News columnist, appears in Sunday's editions.

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