The only one who can take him down is Lane Kiffin, the guy who still has an occasional hankering to court distractions.
I love martinis. I average about two a year, usually here in Las Vegas, where they are known to spawn. A cold glass of beer is a splendid sight, and a glass of Chardonnay has a lovely sort of moon glow. But a martini comes with that great stiletto heel.
- USC Trojans
- College Football
See more topics »
And after the first sip of my very first martini, I become disoriented and hopelessly lost. We'd arrived in Vegas at 5 p.m., Posh and I, and by 6 we are sitting in a cocktail lounge at the MGM Grand, me sipping a vodka martini, her one of those cosmos, pink as a baby's butt.
"Where to next?" I say.
"We just got here," Posh says.
"We have to keep our fluids up," I say.
"Follow me," I say, and head off in the completely wrong direction.
For me, Las Vegas is one long sobriety test. Can I get through the revolving door alive? Can I keep from losing a foot on the escalator? I swear, if Vegas were a cruise ship, I would've fallen overboard years ago.
"This way," I say.
"No, I think it's this way," Posh says.
She's absolutely right. My wife is younger than me and has better eyes. In fact, she has magnificent eyes. And a Cheshire smile. Wait . . . that's not Posh. That's someone else's Posh. Poshhhhhhhhhh!!!
"I'm over here," she says.
OK, that's it, I'm switching to beer -- a far superior lubricant anyway. Vodka is for losers, the hooch behind most failed Eastern Bloc regimes. Beer is better. In the right light, a glass of beer looks like the Lombardi Trophy.
Fifteen minutes later, we're sitting in an Irish pub in New York New York, which is like heaping falsehood upon falsehood. There is nothing Irish about this pub. There is nothing New York about the desert.
What to make of Vegas. The place both fascinates and repulses me. I like the audacity of it all, and the energy too. I can skip that whole high-roller shtick -- the big cover charges, the limos and the bottle service. Go with it if you like; it's just "not my bag," as Sammy would say.
But for people-watching, good food and a little fun, Vegas is fine by me.
"Are you 21?" I ask Posh as we head into a casino.
"Yes, finally," she says.
"Good," I say. "Because you look so young."
"I'm always willing to look at my actions, and do them better,'' Kiffin says. "I make mistakes, and sometimes in split seconds. Then seconds later I know how wrong I was.''
But it's the hint of paranoia thrown in there at times, everyone seemingly intent on tearing him and USC down as Kiffin sees it, which seems so unnecessary.
"I deal with these 75 scholarship and walk-on players and control things really well here in this building. As well as how they think and what their performances really mean,'' Kiffin says. "In general, I do not feel the media is very positive toward game performances unless the players play perfectly."
And yet he says, "I feel the media has the same standards I do. That's what I expect from the players — perfection. But the problem is that's what everyone around them reads and hears and then it starts to get to them and suddenly it's, 'You guys really aren't very good,' and, 'Why aren't you scoring 55 points?' "
By the way, why isn't USC scoring 55 points? We're talking greatness here. Why haven't the Trojans been more impressive against some of the soft touches on their schedule? Is he already expecting a parade?
"We know how hard it is," Kiffin says. "We have less scholarship players than the other team, and while these kids know they are still going to win, it's like they don't win by enough with the media.
"You'll see it in the headlines. You read them and it's like you don't even know we won. You almost think we lost.''
For the most part, Kiffin is doing extraordinary work. But for now maybe impending greatness should be just seen and not heard whining.
Because as Jane put it so well in Season 4, Episode 14: "To whom much is given, much is expected.''
So for starters, how about 55 points?
JEFF, A UCLA fan, has a terrific idea. He emailed to say he's upset he cannot get the Pac-12 Networks on his TV, therefore missing UCLA's game with Cal.
"Perhaps we should have Coach [Jim] Mora yelling at the TV cable operators,'' writes Jeff, "instead of our sports information directors.''