Pretty Sweet Jump, Doesn't Count Now Though
The NCAA took their time in writing out their 67 page report on the USC Trojans and their scofflaw ways. That report finally came down on Thursday. The resulting penalties are substantially less than "the fall of Troy." This is wrong. USC should have gotten at least the death penalty like SMU did and probably worse (more on this below). The Trojans are on probation for the next four years.
Here is the run down of the actual penalties:
- Two year bowl ban
- Reduction of scholarships (10 per year for the next 3 years)
- 14 vacated wins (including the 2005 Orange Bowl)
That's a wrist slap (it's not, "a virtual hammer", likewise, "the NCAA threw the book at storied Southern California" is a ridiculous statement) because the message hasn't been sent, to USC or anyone else. Consider the following:
On page 56 of the report, we are told a decision not to give USC a TV ban was "a very close call." Why? Because the three penalties above were deemed sufficient. Are they? No. Page 56 also says "all student-athletes, coaches, administrators, boosters and agents must understand that violations of NCAA rules have severe consequences." If that is really the case, a TV ban is in order. The NCAA's message of "severe consequences" is being ridiculed by USC (a repeat offender, I might add).
USC's AD Mike Garrett said the sanctions were "nothing but a lot of envy" and further, jealous people, "all wish they were Trojans." The comments were offered to USC boosters, but Garrett knew in the hyperconnected world in which we live in that he would be heard outside of the room in California. USC is appealing the sanctions because they feel the punishment is "too severe," as Head Coach Lane Kiffin said. Moreover, USC is claiming that five schools (Alabama, Florida, Fresno State, Oregon and Washington) contacted their incoming Freshman RB Dillon Baxter. This deflection attempt doesn't sound like something we've heard from Kiffin before at all...
The man responsible for the lack of control over his football team, former Head Coach Pete Carroll, was "absolutely shocked" on Pete Carroll TV (click the link, you'll see) by the findings and denied wrongdoing. His innocence in the matter is hard to believe and no punishment is going to be handed down to the Seattle Seahawks coach. Carroll landed a good paying job and hauled in plenty of cash during his tenure at USC. What coach is going to learn a lesson from this? Well, besides the lesson of flee town before you get caught holding the bag.
What about Reggie Bush? Did he have any remorse? Hardly. He might even get to keep his Heisman Trophy which he was ineligible to win. He certainly gets to keep all of the millions of dollars that he made from the New Orleans Saints. What's the message that sends to the student-athletes? Your college career won't count but you could still end up a millionaire. Bush just won a Super Bowl. Does he really care how he got there? "Whatever happens, happens." Right. However, if the NCAA would allow athletes to get paid real money while they are in school, none of this rule breaking would happen in the first place--something to think about.
The Press itself didn't learn anything from the penalties. The AP is going to let USC keep their 2004 AP National Title. AP sports editor Terry Taylor says "the poll is intended to measure on-field performance. If teams are allowed to play, they're allowed to be ranked and USC certainly played in 2004." It won't matter if the BCS vacates USC's 2004 title. It already doesn't matter that USC's 2004 record is 11-0 with 2 vacated wins including the National Championship Game. Tommy Tuberville stood to get $300,000 from Auburn for winning a National Championship. He sounded like Spalding in asking for an AP revote. Tuberville, who is the current Texas Tech head coach, will have to get nothing and like it.
Instead of accepting their wrong doing maturely, USC clearly doesn't get the message that these penalties are supposed to be serious. Can you imagine the impact on Pac 11 expansion if potential new member institutions knew USC was getting the death penalty? What would the conference do? We'll never know because the NCAA went light on the Trojans. It's a move that sets a bad example for other programs. The real concern should be that the NCAA seems to be fine with violations as long as they aren't flaunted. If they were serious about consequences, USC should have gotten the death penalty and forfeited revenue from the 14 vacated wins and 1 loss that Bush was ruled ineligible for. If we are going to get really serious, how about forcing USC to forfeit any revenue made off of Reggie Bush USC items (replica jerseys, signed mini helmets, signed prints, etc.) sold by approved university vendors for the time period in question? College football is big business. The most surefire way to ensure that "all student-athletes, coaches, administrators, boosters and agents must understand that violations of NCAA rules have severe consequences" is to hit the schools where it really counts, in the wallet.