Go ahead and laugh, but this time,
Kiffin's scholarship offer to a 13-year-old seventh grader has turned into a national joke, right down to the obligatory
I'll admit it. I chuckled, too. Until I searched for
The description of
Let's not discount the fact that Sills is a promising young quarterback who, at 11, was
Now, if Clarkson happens to give Kiffin the first crack at his best students, all the better for Kiffin.
Remember, Kiffin has done this before. Last year, he offered a scholarship to 13-year-old
Kiffin got ripped for that scholarship offer, too, but it's difficult to understand why. The son of a former college star, whose older brother was an All-America, might someday join your team. And he might bring his fraternal twin brother with him. Any geneticist will tell you it's best to fish in a stocked gene pool, so why not get in on the brothers as early as possible?
In the more recent case, Kiffin had three other good reasons to offer Sills.
Sills might grow into a five-star stud. Clarkson doesn't toss around such praise lightly, but in 2007 he told SI.com: "I know he's young, but there's always an exception. He's the exception. By no means would I recommend this for 10-year olds, but he's a special case."
In 2000, I was a recent college grad covering Tennessee sports. The father of one Volunteer told me the player had a younger brother who might be truly special under center. The Tennessee player was quarterback
Kiffin also has fallen in love with a young quarterback before. In 2005 while he was a USC assistant, Kiffin thought the Trojans should offer a high school freshman from Santa Ana, Calif. That quarterback's name was
As for the length of the commitment and the mercurial nature of college football recruiting, it's safe to assume both parties went into this with eyes open. Sills' father, also named
At Tennessee, Kiffin earned the nickname "Lane Violations" because of a nasty habit of breaking the NCAA's more persnickety rules -- often in public. By recruiting a seventh-grader, he can avoid breaking those rules, most of which don't apply to Sills.
The NCAA doesn't consider a player a "prospective student-athlete" until he enters ninth grade. Until then, coaches can call as many times as they want. So Kiffin is in the clear.
Or maybe we should call him the 6-8, 330-pound offensive tackle in the room.
Henderson, ranked the nation's No. 2 overall prospect by Rivals.com, will not sign until after the Trojans meet with the NCAA's committee on infractions later this month. If USC receives bad news, it's a safe bet Henderson will sign elsewhere. If the NCAA really drops the hammer, it could affect the Trojans' recruiting for a long time -- maybe even until 2015.
Fortunately, USC already has locked up the kid who could be the best quarterback in that class. Of course, a lot can change between now and then. As the singer of the way-too-literal soundtrack to the Sills YouTube clip/Clarkson commercial croons, Sills has got "all kinds of time."