USC's situation is not as bad as it is made out to be. Don't be a lemming -- or an Obama supporter. Think for yourself on this issue.
USC has a problem with agents -- mostly the two major sports seem to attract those with hygiene problems. In other words they're greasy. The NCAA is looking into the, ahem, pasts of O.J. Mayo and Reggie Bush. But death penalty? Whoa, there. Let's operate from the premise that USC didn't know about either case of extra benefits. A source with broad knowledge of the NCAA investigative process, says the NCAA is actually slightly more forgiving when it comes to agents giving extra benefits than it is with boosters. The language in the NCAA Manual deals specifically with boosters, the thinking being that schools have an ability and a duty to control them.
Not so much with agents. This isn't to absolve USC. Bush-Mayo looks bad. Real bad. But unless the NCAA can prove that USC knew or should have known about each situation, the school is likely to skate. Is it fair? Probably not, but as Gary Parrish pointed earlier this week there are Mayo situations going on all over the country. USC being USC, it got caught in the headlights. Do you think "Outside the Lines" does a piece with a jilted agent runner outing, say, Seton Hall?
We'll find out soon enough about Bush. Depositions will be taken next month in the lawsuit against him. The trial is scheduled for March. If it gets that far, I'll be shocked. Bush should have settled with Lloyd Lake by now. I don't know why he hasn't. The negative publicity from the case already has cost him dearly in endorsements.
"Hummer, lost them all, except for adidas," one source told me.
Since both these guys are out of school it will come down to the NCAA deciding if the school knew about the agents. At worst USC is guilty of negligence, not complicity. Did USC want to know? Of course not. It was in the school's best interest to get Bush and Mayo on campus win games. Should USC have known? That's the NCAA's (and the Pac-10's) task.
• If you playoff proponents want a ray of hope, here it is: Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen is rumored to be stepping down next year. (His choice, by the way) Hansen, along with the Big Ten's Jim Delany, is part of the blockade against a plus-one. The new commissioner might be able to slowly melt some cold presidential hearts within the conference.
Watch for the Mountain West's Craig Thompson to go after the job. That makes sense, but there is another name in the rumor mill that will blow your doors off: Notre Dame AD Kevin White.
Hansen is the longest-tenured major-college commissioner having been in his position since 1983.
• Why didn't someone at the BCS meetings in South Florida last month propose an unseeded plus-one? That model seems much more agreeable to the bowls, presidents and schools. Let all the bowls go back to the natural hookups (Fiesta with the Big 12, Rose with Big Ten-Pac-10, Sugar with the SEC, Orange with ACC and/or Big East). The two highest-ranked teams after the bowls would then meet for the national championship.
There are issues: Because of its agreement with two conferences, the Rose Bowl could face a situation where an 8-4 team could upset an undefeated No. 1 team. That doesn't exactly legitimize a national championship game.
A fifth bowl would have to be added to accommodate the non-BCS schools. There's always the possibility that 1-2 teams could play in a bowl, although not much of one. Between 1936 and 1992 (when the Bowl Coalition was formed) No. 1 played No. 2 in a bowl only eight times.
But the dearth of postseason sizzle was why the BCS was formed.
Choosing among the bowl winners still doesn't clear up the problem of selecting the top two teams. If the system had been in place last season, you would have needed federal troops to clear the streets. The top seven teams in the final BCS standings (prior to the bowls, mind you) finished with at least two losses. The No. 8 team, Kansas, went 12-1.
Best guess on an unseeded plus-one in that scenario: LSU vs. Georgia, USC, Missouri or Kansas. Satisfied?
• A fond farewell to Kansas State president Jon Wefald who is retiring after the 2008-2009 academic year. The Miracle in Manhattan never would have happened had not the energetic president taken big, big chances in turning his football program around.
In the late 1980s, he spent K-State into debt in order to hire a top notch coach, pay his staff and improve facilities. Obviously, it worked. You couldn't help but like the guy. He bounced around the press box like a suit-wearing gnome, a cheerleader without being annoying. Warner Bros. is busy turning a screenplay written by Wefald into a TV movie about the Negro Leagues.
His legacy will be greater than 99 percent of the presidents around today. First, he stayed on the job, 23 years by the time he retires. Most of his peers are academic gigolos, jumping from one job to another.
The school continued to go out of the box with Bill Snyder's replacement, Ron Prince. The hire was great at the time, in part, because Prince was one of the few minority head coaches in I-A football. The hire looks like a gamble now because Prince lost his AD (Tim Weiser) and his president while the program has declined.
Wefald leaves with another gamble on his record. Bob Huggins came and went. So did Michael Beasley. For now it worked. Frank Martin took K-State to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 12 years. Can the basketball success be sustained?
• That Tim Tebow circumcision stuff was worth a laugh but if I'm a self-respecting doctor, I'm pissed. Letting a Heisman Trophy winner snip sutures is a bit like letting a civilian in a press box. That's our office. We're the trained professionals who, like doctors, adhere to a code of ethics.
There has to be a professional organization of doctors in Alachua County, Fla. that will weigh in on this. And what about the head of the University of Florida medical school? If I get a minute I'm going to call them and ask them about Tebow.
• I was sitting around and decided to rate the conferences going into next season. What do you think?
1. SEC -- Three of the last six BCS national champions.
2. Big 12 -- All grown up. The Large Dozen enters its 13th season with at least four top 15 programs (Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas)
3. Pac-10 -- The only league to play nine regular-season conference games continues to chase USC.
4. Big East -- Seven deep in 2008
5. Big Ten -- Big drop off after Ohio State.
6. ACC -- Haven't won a BCS bowl game since 1999.
7. Mountain West -- BYU is back!
8. WAC -- Depth throughout. Boise, Fresno and Hawaii should all go bowling.
9. Conference USA -- Two 10-game winners in 2007.
10. MAC -- The league champion (Central Michigan) lost six games<>
11. Sun Belt -- Finally. Three teams at .500 or above.