EL PASO, Texas — USC coach Lane Kiffin, who delivered several apologies for missteps during the regular season, offered another Thursday for etiquette slips by the Trojans in the run-up to Monday's Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech.
On Wednesday night, the Trojans arrived late for a kickoff dinner that was to involve both teams and bowl officials. Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson and his team were leaving as the Trojans arrived.
The perceived slight, fueled by a photo of an empty dining room, became a hot topic on Twitter and news outlets.
Kiffin said the Trojans were 30 minutes tardy because of their late arrival at the airport, which pushed back the start of a late-afternoon practice. Kiffin said bowl officials were with the Trojans throughout the day.
Upon seeing Georgia Tech exiting, Kiffin said he thought the teams were perhaps scheduled to arrive and depart at staggered times and was not aware there was an issue until Thursday morning.
“We had no intention of disrespecting anybody,” Kiffin said.
A USC athletic department spokesman said that Georgia Tech had arrived earlier than scheduled. But a Georgia Tech spokesman said the Yellow Jackets were there at their appointed time, adding: “From our perspective, it was not a big deal.”
Kiffin also expressed disappointment about a Twitter post by defensive lineman Leonard Williams later Wednesday evening.
Williams, a freshman from Daytona Beach, Fla., tweeted a negative comment about the city of El Paso. He later removed the comment and apologized.
Williams' post came less than a month after Trojans linebacker Tony Burnett tweeted negative remarks about El Paso, including “no one wants to be there New Year's Eve.”
Burnett and Kiffin later apologized for the remarks.
On Thursday, Kiffin said he was “very surprised” by Williams' tweet.
“We talk about it, we address it,” he said. “You get 110 kids and, unfortunately, they screw up. … Once again, another apology was sent out as soon as we got ahold of it.
”It does not reflect the way our staff feels or the way that our team feels, so I was really upset with that; especially, you'd think, we would've learned from the last one.“
Kiffin, however, indicated that no punishment was forthcoming.
”You've got to be careful where you get into people's rights,“ he said. ”You can disagree with what they're saying, like we do, but I don't think you start punishing people for what they put on their social media.“