USC inner battles costly
Posted: Friday, August 6, 2010 3:55 pm
By: By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Southern California cornerback T.J. Bryant had surgery on his left cheekbone Thursday after getting into a fight with teammate Stanley Havili last week.
New USC head coach Lane Kiffin said Bryant will be out for at least three weeks, decreasing his chances of winning a starting job. The Trojans haven’t decided whether Havili will face disciplinary action.
“It’s something we’re not excited about right now, but we’re looking into it,” Kiffin said of the scuffle, which happened last Friday during the players’ final conditioning workout before the official start of training camp.
Bryant is a junior who played mostly on special teams last year. Havili is the Trojans’ senior fullback and a vocal team leader entering his fourth season as a starter at USC. Coaches aren’t allowed to attend the players’ workouts before camp starts.
Bryant and Havili scuffled during “a high-intensity drill that turned ugly,” Kiffin said. “Stanley tried to step into a leadership role. There was some talking, some pushing back and forth, and obviously it didn’t end well.”
Havili, who left Thursday’s practice early because of a strained hamstring, wouldn’t say whether he had struck Bryant in the face.
“I feel terrible about it, horrible about it,” Havili said. “Emotions were high. When emotions are high, intelligence is down. It was an intense workout, and I let it get the best of me. … We shouldn’t have gone that far.”
The Trojans initially thought Bryant wasn’t seriously injured, but USC’s doctors recommended surgery Wednesday after studying X-rays.
Havili is USC’s career leader among fullbacks with 84 receptions. He has spoken to Bryant since the fight, and said the players are “on good terms.” They plan to discuss the incident with the media together later in camp.
Havili caught 22 passes for 298 yards last season and ran for 138 yards. He missed two games because of a sprained shoulder. Bryant made 22 tackles last season.
The fight is another complication for Kennedy Pola, the Trojans’ new offensive coordinator. His arrival from the Tennessee Titans last month sparked a lawsuit, and he’s still learning Kiffin’s tweaks on the Trojans’ offense with four weeks until their first game at Hawaii.
Pola said he’ll deal with Havili “like a parent. You’re always going to make sure you’re there to support him.”