Dropping the Trojan Bomb
For years USC football has been subject to not so subtle whispers of fraud, from opposing Pac-10 fan bases. Particularly cross-town rival UCLA Bruin supporters, who have never been low-key when voicing their disgust. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times since 2004, I’ve had the term, “best college team money can buy” thrown in my face for rooting for the Trojans.
Apparently the NCAA agreed. And THEN SOME.
In a predictable development, the NCAA is expected to release its sanctions on SC’s historic football program within the next several hours.
In an astonishingly horrific development (for Trojan fans anyway), the NCAA is rumored to be metaphorically planning on uprooting half of Los Angeles county, magically lifting it above the athletic department offices, and dropping the cluster of madness on top of every USC football connection in its wake.
In other words: The NCAA is about ready to take out SC apocalyptic movie style.
Reports have SC about to get run for two seasons worth of playoff eligibility, ten scholarships and the forfeiting of all wins from the 2004 season.
Goodbye National Title. It was nice knowing you. That Bush-Leinart push into the endzone, taking down Notre Dame in the fourth quarter? DIDN’T HAPPEN.
USC beating Oklahoma in the BCS Championship? Yeah… didn’t happen.
You know what else didn’t happen? Accountability. Which is clearly part of the reason the NCAA is dropping the 30,000 ton hammer on the program. The other reason – one can only assume – is that the investigation committee must have had ROCK SOLID proof, directly tying the Reggie Bush improprieties to those in positions of power within the SC program.
In my eyes, among the dozens of people to blame, three faces from the crowd should be REALLY weltering from the heat of the spot-light. In reverse order, least to most significant reasons the men of Troy are about to get taken behind the wood-shed:
3.) Reggie Bush
He fuzzed up. He took out his taser and ruined all of our lunches. Electro-shock therapy and meat-lover’s pizza don’t match-up well.
Nor does living in a booster’s house for that matter. You or your parents. C’mon Reggie… REALLY?
But with all of Bush’s misguided monetary practices, I can’t fully fault him. Not when hundreds (if not thousands) of other college athletes are also accepting improper benefits. Reggie broke the rules, but it is the system that is broken.
Rule No. 1 in major college sports isn’t actually, “Don’t break the rules.”
It’s, “Don’t get CAUGHT breaking the rules.”
2.) Pete Carroll
Ok Petey… the gloves are ON.
Throughout his SC tenure, I had been a huge Carroll rep. I gulped his Kool-Aid every season, as if I had just spent a week in the L.A. summer sun, without quenching my thirst. Uncle Pete’s drink was the cure-all.
But when Carroll, seemingly out of nowhere, waved goodbye to the Trojan faithful, to head north to Seattle; something didn’t smell right. Almost like sitting in the back of a Greyhound bus, after some old lady just broke the unspoken, “No going No. 2” rule. And now it lingers in the air.
It just wasn’t like Uncle Pete, who was incredibly loyal. Sure, it was a given that every summer a pro team or two would come calling, and Carroll would flirt for a week or so, but it was always harmless. Like the hot fiance who doesn’t mind her man eying the waitress every now and again… UCS knew who Pete was coming home to.
But with the Seahawks, there was no flirting.
“I’M LEAVING YOU. KEEP THE DOG.”
And just like that, everyone’s favorite Trojan was history. Leading us to the Lane Kiffin era.
(I think I need a ralphing bag.)
You’d have to be naive to assume Carroll didn’t foresee this sanction coming. He was absolutely aware of what kind of ammo the NCAA held in their chambers and probably had a good idea that at least one playoff suspension was coming. And for a high-profile coach like Pete, one wasted season probably would have been enough to send him up the road.
So thanks Pete.
1.) Mike Garrett
My initial thoughts – which I shared with every sports fan friend I could get a hold of tonight – were that Garrett should have his office cleared out by 9 a.m. Thursday morning.
I’ll give him one more day.
Seriously though, if USC doesn’t can Garrett within 24 hours of the official sanction ruling, this world will cease to make sense.
On Garrett’s watch, as the school’s Athletic Director, he saw both of his major programs (Football and Men’s Basketball) red-faced, getting caught with both hands in the cookie jar. He allowed famed booster, Rodney Guillory, to come around and muck things up not once… BUT TWICE.
And of course totally looked the other way on the Bush saga.
If you think about it, either way, Garrett’s role should doom him.
If he knew all about the football and basketball improprieties, he should be fired.
If he didn’t, it was because he had his head under water for five years. How could you possibly be the school’s AD and NOT know what was going on? Only if you were totally disengaged from your job. Which should lead to him no longer having that job.
I will be totally flabbergasted if Garrett isn’t shown the door soon. And extremely disappointed.
Ok, so the Trojans messed up, obviously. Now what? Why the harsh penalty and what will it tangibly mean?
One at a time, shall we…
The penalty must be so harsh for two reasons:
A.) The NCAA has HARD evidence on the Trojans. And it’s JUICY stuff.
B.) After dolling out many weaker penalties of late, (I’m looking at you Florida State) the NCAA clearly needed to tighten its britches and remind all the kids who Daddy is. And Daddy went out back and essentially returned with an entire tree trunk as a switch.
This might sting… a little.
What will the punishment mean? A major loss of revenue for one. Two straight years of no Bowl games? Well, when you consider that the Trojans’ two most likely Bowls are typically the BCS Championship or the Rose Bowl, you’re talking two possible $17-million payouts… JUST FOR THE APPEARANCE. Not to mention the loss of booster donations. Do you really think Steven Spielberg or Will Ferrell are going to want to put their names on donation checks right about now?
So over the next two years, a conservative estimate would pit the Trojans in the hole somewhere between $30-50-million MINIMUM.
That is one steep fine.
You also have to account for the loss of ten scholarships. Now in truth, that number doesn’t seem like such a large chunk when you consider that NCAA football programs get to use 85 scholarships a year. But what usually makes the Trojans great, or better than most at least, is their year-to-year depth. Axe 20 of those scholarships and you’re chopping off a lot of C.J. Gable types.
If the school appeals the sanction (which it can) really, it will only hurt the team more.
Don’t be the least bit surprised to see numerous players from this year’s Top-5 draft class bail either way. So that’s already one lost year for USC. Do they REALLY want to prolong the two-year punishment a third year?
I want to say no. I really want to say no when I have to believe Mike Garrett knows his team is wrong and totally screwed. But then again, Garrett is kind of a moron, so all bets are off.
Heck maybe he’ll try to sabotage the school if they aren’t quick to the draw in giving him the boot.
Finally, I think SC is about to lose their all-world, soon to be second-year-starter sophomore quarterback; Matt Barkley. A self-professed Carroll disciple. Why should he stay? So he can stick around for two years without getting to showcase his NFL skills in major Bowl games, before filing for the draft after the 2012 season?
What Barkley should do, and I swallow my pride hard when I suggest this, is transfer to UCLA.
(I want to sucker-punch myself in the Adam’s apple right now.)
The Bruins are clearly on the up-swing and one of their few major holes happens to be at QB. Oh and UCLA also happens to have one of the best Offensive Coordinators in place for developing star-in-the-making QBs: Norm Chow.
In case you have forgotten, let’s run down the list of QBs Chow has laid his glory hands upon… Jim McMahon, Steve Young, Ty Detmer, Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer, and Matt Leinart.
(Maybe we should take Leinart off the list to make Chow’s resume look better.)
So instead of wasting away at SC under Lane Kiffin, Barkley would transfer cross town – becoming the angelic figure who wouldn’t tolerate cheating in the process – helping fill a major position of need for the ever-improving Bruins, for two years before entering the NFL draft in 2012.
Barkley hardly would have anyone blame him for leaving SC (even Trojan fans), wouldn’t have much pressure at UCLA, would go to a pretty decent team with Bowl ambitions, would still rule Los Angeles, get to work with a phenomenal offensive coach and STILL enter the draft with three years of starting experience. Eat your heart out Mark Sanchez.
I say three years, rather than two with a transfer sit-year, because the NCAA has a Transfer Waiver Rule, which typically allows players under a sanctioned program a get-out-of-jail-free card, allowing them to transfer wherever they wish, with no penalty.
In most cases, a severely sanctioned team suffers from the hangover effects long after the initial penalty has been served. Reputation tends to linger. It’s why good programs stay good and poor ones stay irrelevant, for the most part.
But there is a hope. A ray of light at the end of the tunnel. And one ENORMOUS reason why SC shouldn’t appeal the sanction:
The potential Big-12/Pac-10 mega-merger. Who’d have thought Texas and Oklahoma could eventually save the day?
If Pac-10 is able to woo Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Colorado to the point of wrestling them away from the Big-12, the public relations swoon could actually end up making even a post-sanctioned SC, more attractive to recruits. Brighter lights = more desirable location.
I was already rooting for the merger to happen. After the Trojan Bomb, this now NEEDS to happen.
Just like Mike Garrett needs to be fired.
Here’s to hoping both are announced sooner rather than later.