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UPDATED...USC's use of football consultants questioned by the LA Times

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Updated below the fold - P

The LAT has a story out this morning questioning USC's use of coaching consultants within the football program and how it could constitute a serious violation of NCAA rules..

I got wind that the LAT was working on this story last week from someone that I trust to be a very good source. Now I didn't get all the particulars, only that Pringle was working on a story about the football program and more possible violations.

But now that I have read it a few things stand out.

With cross pollination between the NFL and D-1 coaching communities this type of arrangement doesn't really surprise me at all and I am sure that it is done more than we know. That there is even a rule about does surprise me...guys are going to talk and share information. It is natural, especially if they have known each other from past coaching connections.

The wording of this article is intriguing as it tries to draw you in with the alleged violations. A lot of it is based on "if it can be proved" or "if he had" etc.

With what I have read it would appear that consultants can be used on temporary basis but cannot have contact with the players.

Nowhere in the story does it say that either of the consultants mentioned had contact with ANY player. This would appear to be "coaching the coaches"...

The bylaws say teams may retain temporary consultants "to provide in-service training for the coaching staff, but no interaction with student-athletes is permitted."

So what's the problem?

The supposed "experts" consulted for this story had this to say...

But experts contacted by The Times said the type of assistance that Rodriguez described could constitute a serious violation.

"That's coaching," said J. Brent Clark, a onetime NCAA investigator who practices law in Oklahoma, when told of Rodriguez's statements.

More on Clark in a bit.

Did the so called experts have all the facts or just what the Times provided?

Earlier in the story it is stated why there are rules regarding consultants...

"The rules are designed to level the playing field for all institutions regardless of the size of their budgets. It would make no sense for the rich and powerful to be able to compensate coaches with NFL backgrounds outside the coaching-limitation rules."

OK...But what was Rodriguez compensated? Rodriguez states in the piece that his time consulting with Carroll was minimal. Didn't Charlie Weis have Bill Belechick consult with him on some ND football issues?

More important many knew that Alex Gibbs was brought into consult early on and no one raised the question then but now it is a big deal? What about Carl Smith? Was he considered a consultant too?

Once again the use of unnamed sources is the foundation of the story. Sources that don't have the balls to come forward because they are worried about "alienating" USC. Right, sounds like someone has another axe to grind but is too much of a wimp to stand up and be counted. This is essentially having your cake and eating it too...Stick it to USC behind their backs while still having access to USC to further your own agenda.

Of course the funny thing that stands out in this article is the one guy Pringle interviewed on the record, J. Brent Clark, has Oklahoma ties. He even wrote a book on Oklahoma he doesn't have an agenda........Right.

The sensational aspect of this reporting is the only real news here. Pringle makes the attempt to attach this charge directly on Pete Carroll. Something that up to this point in all of the discussions in regards to the investigations that hasn't been done anywhere before. This smells of desperation, especially with many knowing about Alex Gibbs being retained early in PC's tenure at USC.

I am not even going to sweat this. With all the scrutiny that the football program has been under for the past 3 years I find it surprising that if this is a serious violation that it wasn't uncovered sooner. The NCAA has drug this out long enough...why? Because they have little or nothing. This would appear to be a last ditch effort to nail SC before the NCAA supposedly (as we have read in the past) should/would/could hand down their findings before the season starts.

When the NCAA finally puts something out that is official then I will worry about it...

UPDATE - Here is Pete Carroll's take on the allegation...

Carroll addressed the issue this morning, after a published report suggested that USC’s employment of Pete Rodriguez in that capacity was a possible violation of NCAA rules.

“We’ve documented it,” Carroll said. “The topic has just come up because there’s an article on it. We dealt with this thing way back when to do it properly and do it the right way.”

Carroll said Rodriguez was paid by the school but declined to discuss further details of the arrangement, which reportedly included Rodriguez attending practices, watching games and reporting back to Carroll.

“To get to the point where we could have a guy be a consultant and come and see us, we did all of the homework, went through compliance, did all of the steps that you have to to make sure it’s OK,” Carroll said. “The way we understood and interpreted it, we tried to do everything exactly the right way. And that’s it.”

I wish it was that easy. But I think if that is the case this will go away as much ado about nothing.