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Can Tim Floyd or USC disprove Louis Johnson's accusations?

I saw the Yahoo! articles last night and I did not plan on writing about it. The headline is salacious and the story reads like an episode of the Sopranos. I hardly see the point of discussing it with all the angles still yet to be played out but with all the message boards lighting up like Christmas trees and numerous sites jumping on the hate USC bandwagon I figure I have to say something.

I am not going to link to any of the Yahoo! articles for now but I will link to others that are providing their own take on this mess.

So is it true?

Did Tim Floyd pass some money onto Rodney Guillory? That's going to be hard to prove when the accuser, Louis Johnson, didn't actually see the exchange. He weaves a wild tale about how Guillory supposedly told him that he had to "pick up a grand" from Floyd. Guys who break the rules have proven to be stupid in the past so it is entirely possible that Guillory could have said this to his former confident Johnson but Guillory also strikes me as being a bit more cautious than that.

Is Louis Johnson lying?

Who knows, people have lied under oath before and because this is cash we are talking about it would be awfully hard to prove or disprove without actually seeing the transaction take place. Johnson also has a book coming out so it is in his best interest to make it as sensational as possible to get the best story out there. Then there is Johnson's past legal troubles that hurts his credibility as well. On the other hand he is providing a lot of intricate details about this story for someone to have completely made up.

Chris Penrose over at WeAreSC thinks there is a timing issue with Louis Johnson's story.

From the articles that I’ve read and from the ESPN reports, this is my take:

The date that was given for Coach Floyd personally handing money to RG conflicts with a practice that we had before we caught a flight to Tucson to play U of A the next day.

I dont think any college basketball coach in the country would meet an advisor of a recruit to give them money in a public, well documented place like BH.

I was Coach’s right hand man during my senior year with all our new recruits (since I was going to be a GA with the team the next year), I knew all the ins and outs of O’s recruitment. There was nothing that we or the university itself did that was illegal AT ALL!!!

Johnson said that he told the Fed’s and the NCAA about this last year (an entire year ago). This would’ve been huge news, I think he would’ve documented this in his ESPN OTL interview and in his other reports.

This entire thing is comical.

Well, Penrose is off a little bit on his info. Johnson didn't tell the NCAA about the money drop until just recently though it appears the feds knew early on. If true then again this is easily proven airline receipts and practice schedules should be easy to produce. Penrose seems like a decent chap but for all his closeness to the program he doesn't bring a lot of inside info to the table. The other question that I have based on his comment is obvious...because of his knowledge of the "ins and outs of O's recruitment" what can he tell us about the NCAA initial investigation of Mayo that lead to his being cleared by the NCAA?

I will be interested in hearing his observations but I am not counting on hearing it any time soon.

Another thing stands out in the LA Times piece that could get to the bottom of this particular allegation once and for all... (emphasis added)

Guillory was driving an Infiniti sport utility vehicle when he arrived at Johnson's Long Beach home saying that he needed to meet Floyd to "pick up a grand" for a trip to Las Vegas during the NBA's All-Star weekend. Floyd and Guillory exchanged cellphone calls arranging their meeting at a café adjacent to Rodeo Drive.

Well if they exchanged calls their cell phone records will show that and with the technology we have today investigators should also be able to tell where exactly they were where those calls took place. Floyd could also provide an alibi for his whereabouts on the day in question. the problem here is that these records won't be released unless there is a criminal investigation. The NCAA and USC cn't ask for them.

The real damning thing in all of this (not necessarily against USC) is that this information was offered up a year ago and the NCAA never knew about it, they weren't even in the same ballpark in digging it up. Couple that with the NCAA clearing Mayo prior to his admission to USC and it shows an NCAA that woefully out of its depth as an investigating body. I still want to know why Louis Johnson waited so long to tell the NCAA? Getting them this info quickly moves the case along quicker toward a resolution.

To me it's obvious...he held onto that chip for his book that he is shopping around. He could care less about Mayo, Guillory, Floyd or USC. He cares only about himself...that's fine but I think the credibility of his story is being hurt by hanging on to this for so long. Sure the feds like having the info because they are investigating a tax fraud case...they really couldn't care less about USC. Theya re just means to an end.

Michael Lev has an interesting Q&A with Charles Robinson who co-wrote the Yahoo! piece. Here is a portion.

Question: How credible are the accusations against Tim Floyd?

Robinson: I think Louis Johnson is very credible, (especially) in terms of all the people we interviewed over the course of the Bush thing. It’s one thing if a source brings this to just a journalist. It’s another thing when he has sat with people from the FBI, the Attorney General’s office, the IRS, knowing the agreement when he went in that if he lies he’s facing prosecution. We’re talking about a felony situation if he lied to the FBI. He also was not somebody who just brought it to the media but was willing to sit in front of all comers and take questions. It wasn’t like he just sat down and said, ‘This is what happened.’

He also has a treasure trove of receipts and financial documents to back up what he has said about Rodney Guillory. When you pair that with what he did in the first round (of interviews) when he spoke to ESPN … that, in total, makes him an extremely credible source.

Q: But isn’t Johnson writing a book about this? Couldn’t he just be seeking publicity?

Robinson: I believe he is writing a book. But when we spoke to him, there was never any quid pro quo that I’ll tell you this if you mention my book. He understood 100 percent that this wasn’t going to be any kind of PR deal for his book. I tend to believe the overriding factor of (possible) prosecution from the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office stands as a far more credible point in his favor than this being a guy who’s out there trying to make money.

Robinson's explanation of the merged investigations is intriguing as well.

Q: Once the NCAA combined the Bush and Mayo cases, did parallels emerge?

Robinson: Interestingly enough, the NCAA didn’t actually combine them. There were reports that they combined them. The same people who were investigating Bush, as soon as other things (involving Mayo) came up, immediately that became part of their investigation. They weren’t just investigating Bush and football - they were investigating USC. It’s really an investigation of an institution.

As far as parallels, yeah, I think it’s pretty clear from what we’re being told from sources, the way the NCAA is going about asking questions, that they see parallels in the two situations. They see with Reggie Bush a number of different people who were allowed to get close to the USC football program. Through their ability to get close to the program, they were allegedly able to provide benefits, cash and things of this nature. In the same vein with Rodney Guillory and USC basketball, this was another individual allowed to be very close to the program. Through having that access, he was able to allegedly roll out benefits that would violate NCAA rules.

One of the strong themes when we talked to people who have been questioned was: Where was the compliance department in all this? Who was overseeing the conduct of these athletic teams? How were individuals who could do harm to these programs able to get so close? Who keeps these people at bay? The answer to that is that probably the coaches could be culpable, the compliance people could be culpable, the bosses of the compliance people. Ultimately, even (Athletic Director) Mike Garrett could be culpable. When the NCAA talks about institutional control, it’s very much a top-down thing. The questions for the NCAA are where did those breakdowns occur, why did they occur and how widespread were they.

Right, a light just went on in their heads. I mean the Bush thing went on in San Diego how was SC supposed to know what was going on in SD? That Lake and Michaels had access can easily be explained because of open practices and their previous friendship with the bush family. It just looks a little too convenient to me.

At this point nothing surprises me.

I have read in the comments here and elsewhere that because Johnson told it to the feds if he is caught lying it could spell big trouble. Well, Johnson has already rolled the dice in regards to a drug conviction. I mean no one twisted his arm to do that right? So it is entirely possible that he is rolling the dice again. He can't prove it anymore that Floyd can disprove it. He didn't see the transaction he only saw the cash allegedly after the transaction was made. Even if cell phone records prove Floyd was in the area he still can't prove that Floyd gave Guillory the money...its a classic he said she said argument.

The thresh hold of evidence here may be lower than in a criminal case but the NCAA could care less about that. SC is screwed in my eyes anyway you put it.