You Know What’s Inside A Trojan Horse? College Football And Basketball Players

Lonnie White at Fanhouse:

There’s no question the University of Southern California enjoyed the success its football and basketball programs had during the high-flying days of Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo.

But the Trojans have to question whether it was worth it now that the NCAA Committee on Infractions has spoken.

USC was placed on four years probation, which includes a two-year football postseason ban; a one-year basketball postseason ban; forfeiture of regular season and postseason wins for three sports that used ineligible athletes and scholarship reductions for football and basketball.

“We acknowledge that violations occurred and we take full responsibility for them,” Todd Dickey, USC’s senior vice president for administration, said in a statement after the sanctions were announced Thursday. “However, we sharply disagree with many of the findings … Further, we feel the penalties imposed are too severe for the violations identified in the report.”

USC plans to appeal the penalties it considers excessive. “We will accept those sanctions we believe to be consistent with penalties imposed upon other NCAA member institutions found guilty of similar rules infractions. We are hopeful that the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee will agree upon our position on appeal, and reduce the penalties,” the statement said.

Dashiell Bennett at Deadspin:

I was hoping to avoid talking about the conference thing again until something official was announced, but it now seems rather pertinent (and unavoidable.) Unless Notre Dame throws a Hail Mary, it looks like Nebraska will be invited to join the Big Ten on Friday. That means Texas will want out of the Big 12 and the Pac-10 will be waiting with open arms. (Allegedly, they’ve already started by poaching Colorado.) So in addition to being smacked with the only real penalty the NCAA ever dishes out, Lane Kiffin is about to find out that by the time his team becomes bowl eligible again, Texas and Oklahoma will have already taken over the lease at the Rose Bowl. So much for their cute little dynasty.

(Oh, and the newest rumor is that a new Pac-16 will want TWO BCS bids instead of a conference championship game. Which is total bulslhit, right? Let’s just write them a check for a billion dollars and we won’t even have to play the games anymore.)

Formal announcements from the NCAA and USC (including a possible appeal) will come later this week. Meanwhile, Reggie Bush sleeps the sleep of the just.

Jim Litke at AP:

If you think the bite the NCAA took out of USC on the playing field was painful — forfeited wins, a postseason ban and lost scholarships — check out the fine print. It says no more “non-university” personnel — a.k.a. “celebs” and “hangers-on” — at practice or on game-day sidelines. In LA, where being seen is everything, that’s the really diabolical part.

Being told to hide the 2004-05 national championship banner, white out a few wins in the record book, maybe even give back Reggie Bush’s Heisman trophy — those things might bother alumni, but not the talented kids who made it so glamorous to be around Football U. Yet this guarantees the Trojans will be seeing less and less of them, and possibly for a very long time.

The Trojans’ vaunted recruiting machine took a big hit when Pete Carroll lit out for Seattle and the NFL a step ahead of the law. Now Lane Kiffin, Carroll’s successor and a promising fast-buck artist in his own right, has 30 fewer scholarships to hand out and no way to promise those kids they’ll be on TV much, let alone sniff the postseason for at least two more years.

Trust me, you wouldn’t want to be in the living room when he tries to explain to some 18-year-old kid why he won’t get the chance to low-five Will Ferrell or Snoop Dogg coming up the sideline of the Coliseum after taking it to the house.

Ted Miller at ESPN:

Yes, USC will right itself. Eventually, no doubt. The right coach at USC, which may or may not be Kiffin, will win, just like the right coach at Alabama or Ohio State or Florida or Texas will win.

Just know that these sanctions have teeth. A loss of 10 scholarships from the next three recruiting classes will significantly damage overall depth. And, as Tom Luginbill points out, the margin for error in recruiting will become razor thin. A couple of busts and the program could find itself with gaping holes heading into the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

But it’s not just about the loss of 10 scholarships per class, it’s also about the remaining 15. Kiffin will be challenged to convince elite prospects who have no emotional ties to the program to sign. The bowl ban won’t matter that much. Even with the 2011 class, you’re talking about an incoming freshman only missing one postseason (though an appeal would mean the Trojans could play in a bowl after this season but not the next two). No, the recruiting challenge will emerge from USC not being in the national title hunt in the near future. A recruit who signs this February or the next one or the next one probably can’t count on being a member of a national contender.

Phil Wallace at L.A. Observed:

Now whether Todd McNair lied on his own volition, or whether he was asked to by someone within the USC program is a question that may never be answered. But regardless, USC should fire McNair if he doesn’t resign first. The sanctions included a one-year recruiting ban for McNair.

I’ve also said that Mike Garrett should resign too, and USC needs to completely rebuild its athletic department with competent administrators who understand NCAA rules. While the sanctions were exceedingly harsh, that doesn’t excuse USC for being completely blindsided by them. For several years, USC has acted as if it’s done nothing wrong, and continued business as usual. Better cooperation with the NCAA might have resulted in a lesser penalty, along with better awareness of its own misdeeds. Ultimately, Garrett allowed his own student athletes to be punished for what seems like a shoddy handling of the investigation.

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