There are many out there who feel that USC has already lost in the court of public opinion when it comes to the NCAA and its investigation of USC.
A four year investigation, numerous negative stories by the media and silence form Heritage Hall have all contributed to the negativity that many have expressed recently but it has also been fueled by USC's dominance and exposure over the past several years.
Should USC have fought a more vigorous battle to diminish the damage that we have seen from the media? Should they have got out in front of the allegations in regards to Reggie Bush?
Would it have mattered?
Dan Weber, formerly of the Press-Enterprise, now with USCFootball.com thinks so...
There’s one visual detail from the USC hearing in front of the NCAA’s Infractions Committee in Tempe last weekend that I can’t get out of my mind.
It’s the hotel bellman pushing a cart out of the hearing room overloaded with folders of USC material addressing one or another of the various NCAA charges.
My first reaction? Nice to know USC did address them, took them seriously and went to great lengths to do so.
My second reaction? So what. It doesn’t matter. It’s too late. USC has lost this case in the court of public opinion where it matters the most.
You do not have to wait a couple of months for the committee’s published verdict and penalties. This case is over. The Trojans lost.
And I say that, informed by of all things, a recent scanning of various Notre Dame and UCLA fans message boards. It’s something to do, at times, for laughs to see how many more threads and posters there would rather talk about USC than their own programs.
But I also do it to see what, if anything, can be learned from the perceptions of USC’s historic arch-rivals.
And sure enough, some of them had noticed that same detail, the reams of rebuttal material USC was offering the NCAA.
That puzzled the more serious among them. What was USC doing? Making this stuff up? They’re guilty. Everyone knows that. Everyone’s known it for four years. There is no exculpatory material.
I will get to UCLA and Notre Dame later as I have found an interesting take...
Weber is the best beat writer in SoCal. It is nice to see him get a chance to show off his talents for USCFootball.com instead of hardly getting read in a secondary paper in one of the countries biggest media markets. He brings a tone of credibility to USCFootball.com.
Weber is also right!
How are the allegations against USC any different than those we have heard or read about from other programs in the past?
The NCAA has always come down hardest in two areas of violations. One is academic fraud to either get student-athletes into school or keep them there. No one has ever accused USC of that in any of this.Then there’s paying a player or his family, high school coach or “representative” to get him to attend a school—or stay there....
SC has never been accused of these type of infractions by the NCAA so when you look at the alleged infractions SC could have deflected many of these with a few well timed and placed interviews. They may not have been able to discuss the actual investigation but there is no rule that says they can't address the allegations and defend the schools good name.
The school whose athletic program has been the most open to the media as far as practices, postgames, athletes and coaches availability, cannot simply embargo all information when it comes to what it’s finding out about its own investigations.
That is pretty dead on.
Those video taped messages last year by Garrett and Dickey in response to the allegations were a joke. I think they produced more questions than answers.
Forget the all the lawyer mumbo jumbo about not being able to discuss the allegations because they were still being investigated there is plenty USC could have done to fight for their good name.
SC could have used the media to its advantage to get their message out...the same media that fawned all over them in the early part of the decade. They would have found many in the press who would carried SC's water and the damage done in the arena of public opinion would have been minimal.
SC could have got out in front of a lot of this had they not been so worried about making a mistake.
The old saying goes that it isn't always the original crime that gets you into trouble but it is the cover-up that nails you. Many would say that SC's silence (or arrogance) is tantamount to a cover-up...stonewalling if you will.
The NCAA has spent four years investigating this. If it was a such a slam dunk why did it take so long? If Lake is such a credible witness and if we are to believe all that Yahoo! reported why wasn't this nailed down in say 2008?
I understand where Weber is going with this...
By the time the investigation had passed two years, someone at USC should have realized that the NCAA would not, could not, let this high-profile case blow up in their face and walk away with nothing but a stonewall in the chops.
Again, no where has it been reported as FACT that anyone from SC knew about this. If the primary (alleged) wrongdoers aren't compelled to talk and if we are to believe that USC has cooperated fully then what more do people want? The NCAA put themselves in a box here. The NCAA's desire to keep their credibility in the realm of public opinion as the governing body of college athletics, while at the same time trying to investigate a complicated case is just as much to blame for this taking as long as it has as it is USC's fault for not getting out in front of this from the start.
With all that being said...does it really matter?
Does anyone really care what is really said on UCLA or Notre Dame blogs or message boards? Are they really the people that drive public opinion? Does it really matter what Alabama or Oklahoma fans think? They want to see USC go down so they can feel better that USC "didn't get away with it" while they had to pay the piper for their transgressions.
Weber makes a big deal about fans from ND or UCLA boards have already found USC guilty. I am not surprised that they feel that way. I guess I am surprised that Weber feels that the UCLA and ND fans matter.
Are these fan bases really our rivals?
I found this comment on one of the premium message boards...(used with permission)
A rival is someone who values the relationship, covets the competition, and measures themselves by their relative success against their chief adversary. Does any of this sound like the mewling from UCLA and Notre Dame in the last decade? Hasn't the posture been more like scrawny children taunting from behind an ample woman's skirt, hoping that someone will protect them from the muscular kid on the block?
So the narrative is if we're beating them, we must be cheating. It's useless to point out that pretty much everybody is beating them, so there must be a fair amount of cheating spread amongst the current tormentors of our erstwhile rivals. I keep waiting for Notre Dame to kick that scofflaw Navy program the hell off their schedule.
I actually have some respect for ND...there was a time when they played all comers and never backed down. Today their schedule is filled with cupcakes and many in their fan base continue to blame Ty WIllingham for NDs dive off the cliff over the past few years...
Unfortunately, the number of whiny Domer fans has increased ten-fold as they continue to get embarrassed on the field and because of Charlie Weis' loud mouth. Hopefully things will get better under the new regime.
When it comes to UCLA I can tell you that a majority of SC fans have little to no respect for UCLA. The obsession that UCLA fans, players and coaches have of USC is pretty high. We already know about BN so there is no need to comment or discuss them...but head over to BRO and you will see a great number of posts focusing on USC.I have read comments on some USC boards over the past couple of years where it was mentioned that Tracy Pierson of BRO keeps saying that SC is going to get nailed and that he has info on other alleged USC transgressions...blah blah blah.
Well, if you have something put it out there or call the NCAA, either way the obsession is scary.
But here is where the SC fan base needs to step up.
Here is a little more of that comment...
How ironic is it that the loudest, longest, most anguished bleating comes from UCLA, who not only parlayed Sam Gilbert's checkbook into their only era of athletic excellence, but somehow elevated John Wooden, the inspiration for Sergeant Schultz, to sainthood while he saw no evil underlying his Pyramid of Success. I guess the Wizard forgot to include those six underlying base blocks; "THE", BEST", "PLAYERS", "MONEY", "CAN", "BUY" when he prepared that graphic for his motivational speeches. Strange, because it made the whole thing a damn sight sturdier.
I suppose even sanctimonious frauds need a patron saint, and old John is certainly worthy of a tin figure hanging on a key chain next to the GNC member card.
Of course UCLA fans will say that there is no proof or that times were different then.
Really? I always thought cheating was cheating. As I have said before the reason I believe Jerry Tarkanian's comments on John Wooden is because it takes a cheater to know a cheater. We know Tark the Shark cheated so it should surprise no one that he could spot a cheater a mile away.
If Bruins can be uniform in their contempt for Pete Carroll, as fine a man as you can get coaching big time sports, then I can play that game as well as anyone. The aggressor sets the rules.
We obviously make fun of UCLA and ND, just like they do to us...that is what "rivals" do, but in the grand scheme of things I could really care less what they think. If it wasn't for CC it wouldn't even come up in conversation in my day to day dealings, that is how much I care about what they think.
I don't think the NCAA will rule against SC because of what many of USC's detractors are screaming from the top of their lungs...I do think the NCAA will rule because of what Weber said in his article - after four years of investigating they really have no choice, no amount of screaming from a decidedly biased group of people will make it any worse but SC could have taken a different approach as soon as the allegations surfaced. USC's lack of a response to me did either one of two things...1) set the tone of the investigations as being defensive and 2) silence interpreted as arrogance.
SC made their bed...they will soon get to lie in it.