During June of 2010, the USC Football program was going through a change. The Trojans were coming off of a 9-4 season and Lane Kiffin was the new head coach after Pete Carroll left to take over as head coach for the Seattle Seahawks. Although there was a coaching change, expectations remained high even though a dark cloud hovered over Los Angeles, the NCAA.
On the morning of June 10th, 2010, breaking news in sports as the NCAA hits USC with sanctions as a result of "lack of institutional control" from 2004 to 2009.
It’s been over five years since the NCAA hit the Trojans hard with sanctions and we are currently watching the governing body of college sports look like fools by documents that have been released as a result of a lawsuit involving former USC assistant coach,Todd McNair. More documents related to the USC sanctions case were released last week that have transcripts involving NCAA members talking about how they needed to hammer USC for their violations and how two members who were not supposed to voice their reasonings to the committee became involved.
In the documents released this week, the NCAA originally planned to impose a one-year postseason ban for the Trojans, the loss of six scholarships over two years, and a scholarship limit of 82 for those two years. The actual sanctions for the Trojans were a two-year postseason ban, the loss of 30 scholarships over three years and a maximum of 75 scholarship players for those three years. Let’s compare these penalties to other big-time programs that have been sanctioned in the past five years:
Miami (FL): Over a dozen football players at Miami (FL) accepted improper benefits from booster Nevin Shapiro during the 2000’s. The NCAA put the school on probation for three years but the school did not receive a postseason ban even though they had self-imposed that ban the previous two years. It is interesting to note that the athletic director at Miami during this era was Paul Dee, who was the Committee of Infractions Chairman for USC’s case. Also Miami self-imposed their sanctions.
Ohio State's "TattooGate": Ohio State players received free tattoos in exchange for autographs and memorabilia. Head Coach at the time Jim Tressel allegedly knew of his players involvements and withheld information from the school and wrote in a statement that he had no knowledge. Three years of probation and one-year of postseason ban.
Penn State's Jerry Sandusky case: Five-year probation, four-year postseason ban, loss of scholarships. These penalties lasted one year as the NCAA allowed Penn State to participate in a bowl last year and the school will have all their scholarships restored this season.
Was there good behavior involved in the Penn State case? Why were USC’s penalties not cut short for the same reason? Ohio State’s head coach allegedly had knew what his players were doing and the NCAA only bans them for one year? Money is given to players at Miami but because their former A.D. was on the Committee of Infractions, they are only put on probation?
USC missed the postseason for two years and saw their power in the conference shift downwards. They had to practice with two-hand touch because they didn’t have enough bodies. They routed their cross-town rival 50-0 and were top five in the nation but couldn’t claim their division title because they had to suffer because the NCAA changed their mind and decided USC needed to be punished harder than any school besides SMU.
But USC is back. They have a top-ten ranking entering 2015 and are coming off of an amazing recruiting class and have another elite class in 2016. They will never get an apology from the NCAA for the way their case was handled. This dark cloud is almost gone.
The sanctions against USC tarnished one of the school’s best running backs and created a dark cloud for one of college’s most successful coaches. If I am at USC now, I bring back Reggie Bush this season and put his jersey alongside the other legends at the Coliseum. Pete Carroll is loved at USC, why can’t Reggie Bush be treated the same?