Tag:USC
Posted on: March 31, 2011 8:56 am
 

HBO fouls it off; college athletics just foul

There hasn't been much good news at all for Auburn since Wes Byrum hit that field goal at the gun to beat Oregon.

That was 80 days ago. Makes sense that it seems like the football program has been around the world.

If it wasn't someone poisoning their oak trees, it was their former Heisman winning quarterback under investigation by the NCAA. And now this: Failing to get any more dirt on Cam Newton, HBO settled for four former mostly-disgruntled Auburn players who said they received extra benefits at the school. I received an advance copy of the "Real Sports" Tuesday. Maybe it's the age we live in, but when Stanley McClover started talking about hundred-dollar handshakes, it hardly registered.

Isn't that what the SEC calls "game week"?

Now it's a national story, I guess, but until we have a) a paper trail and b) names, this is an athletic version of "Entertainment Tonight." SEC-schools-paying-players is the equivalent of Lindsay Lohan entering a courtroom. Sooner or later you get numb to it all. (Although Lindsay does dress better.)

There's also the issue of the NCAA's statute of limitations. The association sets a prosecution limit of four years from the time of the wrongdoing. Most of the payments mentioned came between 2001-07. An NCAA official told me Tuesday that the association is interested if the players want to talk, but the trail is so cold will there be any footprints leading investigators to the offending sugar daddies/coaches? 

The NCAA can re-open cases beyond the statute of limitations -- this one seems juicy enough -- but where does it find the time? Also Wednesday, ESPN reported that infamous seven-on-seven entrepreneur Will Lyles solicited upwards of $80,000 from Texas A&M to land cornerback Patrick Peterson


Let's not forget that Bruce Pearl is waiting to see if he can ever work again at a major college. USC is awaiting its appeal in the Reggie Bush case. Remember those carefree days of last June? I guess what I'm saying is, don't get antsy. The USC case took four years and is still going on, with at least one lawsuit sure to follow if an appeal isn't won. These Auburn players could have their own web-based cyber-shows by the time the NCAA gets to them -- "Who Wants to Be A Deadbeat?" 

OK, so the fact that these guys might not have been upstanding citizens shouldn't matter. Wrong is wrong. And we shouldn't diminish HBO's reporting. I didn't get those guys to talk. Neither did anyone else. When you hear $7,000 for a car, that's starting to get into some serious Maurice Clarett-type money. But admit it, we've got bigger, more tangible scandals to concentrate on. Jim Tressel tried to upstage the cable network Wednesday by "apologizing". Well, apologizing for things he can't discuss. I'll translate: Tressel is so sorry that he allowed five of his players to compete while ineligible than he's genuinely worried about his job. That kind of sorry. 

Oh, and pay attention to the man behind the curtain. That's Luke Fickell who was introduced as interim coach when Tressel starts working only six out of every seven days a week. The five-game suspension is so serious that Tressel will, get this, actually miss game day.

Anyway, back to Auburn. The players' allegations don't involve just the Tigers. McClover said he had sex while on a visit to Ohio State. LSU and Michigan State are mentioned too in the cavalcade of hundies. It's been a dreary offseason for the Tigers, one big hot mess. If it wasn't already, confidence in the system is eroding. But until the NCAA sends out that message, a corrupt system is going to keep operating. Alabama had four major violations in 14 years. It won the national championship (2009) in the same year as its last one. Newton's daddy solicited money at Mississippi State. The kid skated, remained eligible, because of a loophole in the NCAA rules.

Some obscure six-year-old language allowed the Buckeye Five to play in the Sugar Bowl. Talk about a competitive advantage. Disgusted? Yeah, well, at least we have the annual refreshing bowl experience to cheer us up. Oh wait...
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: March 31, 2011 8:55 am
Edited on: March 31, 2011 8:55 am
 

HBO fouls it off; college athletics just foul

There hasn't been much good news, at all, for Auburn since Wes Byrum hit that field goal at the gun to beat Oregon.

That was 80 days ago. Makes sense that it seems like the football program has been around the world.

If it wasn't someone poisoning their oak trees, it was their former Heisman winning quarterback under investigation by the NCAA. And now this: Failing to get any more dirt on Cam Newton, HBO settled for four former mostly-disgruntled Auburn players who said they received extra benefits at the school. I received an advance copy of the "Real Sports" Tuesday. Maybe it's the age we live in, but when Stanley McClover started talking about hundred-dollar handshakes, it hardly registered.

Isn't that what the SEC calls "game week"?

Now it's a national story, I guess, but until we have a) a paper trail and b) names, this is an athletic version of "Entertainment Tonight." SEC-schools-paying-players is the equivalent of Lindsay Lohan entering a courtroom. Sooner or later you get numb to it all. (Although Lindsay does dress better.)

There's also the issue of the NCAA's statute of limitations. The association sets a prosecution limit of four years from the time of the wrongdoing. Most of the payments mentioned came between 2001-07. An NCAA official told me Tuesday that the association is interested if the players want to talk, but the trail is so cold will there be any footprints leading investigators to the offending sugar daddies/coaches? 

The NCAA can re-open cases beyond the statute of limitations -- this one seems juicy enough -- but where does it find the time? Also Wednesday, ESPN reported that infamous seven-on-seven entrepreneur Will Lyles solicited upwards of $80,000 from Texas A&M to land cornerback Patrick Peterson


Let's not forget that Bruce Pearl is waiting to see if he can ever work again at a major college. USC is awaiting its appeal in the Reggie Bush case. Remember those carefree days of last June? I guess what I'm saying is, don't get antsy. The USC case took four years and is still going on, with at least one lawsuit sure to follow if an appeal isn't won. These Auburn players could have their own web-based cyber-shows by the time the NCAA gets to them -- "Who Wants to Be A Deadbeat?" 

OK, so the fact that these guys might not have been upstanding citizens shouldn't matter. Wrong is wrong. And we shouldn't diminish HBO's reporting. I didn't get those guys to talk. Neither did anyone else. When you hear $7,000 for a car, that's starting to get into some serious Maurice Clarett-type money. But admit it, we've got bigger, more tangible scandals to concentrate on. Jim Tressel tried to upstage the cable network Wednesday by "apologizing". Well, apologizing for things he can't discuss. I'll translate: Tressel is so sorry that he allowed five of his players to compete while ineligible than he's genuinely worried about his job. That kind of sorry. 

Oh, and pay attention to the man behind the curtain. That's Luke Fickell who was introduced as interim coach when Tressel starts working only six out of every seven days a week. The five-game suspension is so serious that Tressel will, get this, actually miss game day.

Anyway, back to Auburn. The players' allegations don't involve just the Tigers. McClover said he had sex while on a visit to Ohio State. LSU and Michigan State are mentioned too in the cavalcade of hundies. It's been a dreary offseason for the Tigers, one big hot mess. If it wasn't already, confidence in the system is eroding. But until the NCAA sends out that message, a corrupt system is going to keep operating. Alabama had four major violations in 14 years. It won the national championship (2009) in the same year as its last one. Newton's daddy solicited money at Mississippi State. The kid skated, remained eligible, because of a loophole in the NCAA rules.

Some obscure six-year-old language allowed the Buckeye Five to play in the Sugar Bowl. Talk about a competitive advantage. Disgusted? Yeah, well, at least we have the annual refreshing bowl experience to cheer us up. Oh wait...
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: March 28, 2011 6:06 pm
 

Haden plans to attend UT infractions hearing

LOS ANGELES -- USC AD Pat Haden says he wants to attend Tennessee's June infractions hearing as an "observer."

Haden told CBSSports.com he was in the process of making a request to the NCAA.

"I hope I'm able to attend as an observer," Haden said. "I have a request [in] ... I've been told by people I should be able to."

Obviously, Haden has an interest in the hearing beyond just the experience. Tennessee basketball and football have been accused by the NCAA of a combined 12 major violations. Current USC coach and former Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin is charged by the NCAA with a "failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance" and "failure to monitor the activities regarding compliance" while in Knoxville.

Haden has been on the job eight months wants to learn more about the NCAA process, he told CBSSports.com

Tennessee's hearing is June 10-11 in Indianapolis. USC is still waiting the NCAA answer to its appeal on the June penalties for major violations. The school considers the penalties too harsh and is seeking elimination of this year's bowl ban and relief on scholarship reductions.
Category: NCAAF
Tags: NCAA, Tennessee, USC
 
Posted on: February 10, 2011 2:28 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2011 2:33 pm
 

National notes leading w/ TCU-Wisconsin

Let's straighten out this TCU-Wisconsin mini-controversy. There's a huge reason the Horned Frogs did not want to play the Badgers for the second time in nine months. Its 2011 schedule is all but full.

TCU took a bit of a beating in the court of public opinion this week when Badgers coach Bret Bielema casually mentioned on a radio show that he had been approached by a third party to play the Horned Frogs in Madison in 2011. TCU turned down the "offer." Words like "rematch" and "ducking" entered the conversation on the always level-headed Worldwide Interweb. 

It wasn't a true rematch in that Wisconsin wasn't willing to return the game. There was no ducking because, in truth, TCU's schedule is about to be finalized. The public just doesn't know about it yet. 

The only other opening on the TCU schedule is expected to be filled by BYU on Friday, Oct. 28 at Cowboys Stadium. Pending the final contracts, that's the way it's going to be. TCU's other non-conference games are against Baylor, SMU, Louisiana-Monroe and Portland State. The Froggies will be playing five non-conference games because there are only seven conference games in its final season in the Mountain West.

AD Chris Del Conte's "Anytime, anyplace, anywhere," blast was in reference to Ohio State after Gordon Gee's "Little Sisters of the Poor," comment during the season. It doesn't apply to Wisconsin which was not committed to a return game. TCU is at a level now that it doesn't have to take one-off games on the road. 

It has future home-and-homes scheduled with Oklahoma, Virginia, LSU and Arkansas.




England, Hong Kong weigh in on the BCS: Nothing like a little foreign influence in the BCS. 

The San Diego State International Sports MBA Case Competition is taking on the postseason system in its annual contest involving some of the world's best MBA programs. Twelve schools are being asked to present their best alternatives for postseason college football. The winning group of students will present their case this summer to Mark Cuban, a noted BCS critic and NBA referee baiter who proposed his own playoff plan last year.

Among the MBA programs involved are San Diego State, UCLA, USC, Cal, Notre Dame, Texas, Florida as well as -- wait for it -- Oxford and Hong Kong University.

"We're really interested in what they say, they have no skin in the game," said Greg Block, a media relations director at San Diego State. 

Per the press release, "The largest hurdle ... is to work around the existing personalities and relationships in the current system, making it possible for an independent, outside company to navigate the existing power structures, earn a profit and enact lasting change that is supported by all (I-A) universities."

A time-saving hint for the MBAers: They might start by calling the Rose Bowl, Big Ten and Pac-12 to figure out how to get those three entities in a playoff. No one inside the system has been able to do it yet.

A winner will be determined Friday night. 



Signed and sealed: If you want to view the inner workings of an NCAA CEO you'll have to wait another 57 years. 

Bumping around the NCAA website this week, I discovered something called the Richard D. Schultz Papers. If that sounds like something akin to presidential papers, you're right. Schultz was the NCAA's second executive director from 1987-1993, following the iconic Walter Byers. During his time NCAA basketball revenue skyrocketed, a football playoff became topical and gender equity became a major issue as Title IX took hold.

The point is, you may have to wait a while to read about it.  Schultz' papers were sealed back in 1993 for 75 years or until 2068. All 111 boxes, taking up 57 linear feet. 

"There are some documents the public will never see," said NCAA librarian Lisa Douglass. 

The records are open only to NCAA employees and to "outside researchers" at the discretion of NCAA librarian, according to the site. I don’t know how much juicy stuff is in there but Schultz was not without a bit of controversy in his career. He resigned in 1993 after an investigation into improper loans given to athletes while he was AD at Virginia. 

Juicy stuff, if you're an NCAA nerd like me and love poking around that that kind of stuff. For some reason Byers' papers are more accessible. Those of Cedric Dempsey, who replaced Schultz and Myles Brand are still being assembled.
Posted on: January 21, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2011 10:13 am
 

Dodd mail, 1/21/11

I put out an informal Twitter poll request this week: In light of The Longhorn Network announcement, what is the over/under on number of years the Big 12 will last in its current configuration.

Dan Beebe may want to avert his eyes. Fifty persons responded. The average life span from the respondents? 3.4 years

Here's a sampling of some of the replies ...

"3 seasons, breaks up in spring of 2014"

"A&M and Oklahoma will go to SEC and leave Texas high and dry"

"I second that--2 years. Everyone finally wants to admit Texas is out for themselves. A&M, OU next to leave following CU, NE"

"Give them 3 yrs. Others will tire of the pro-Texas deals and agitate for more. Horns then leave"


I was surprised too. I don't know if one has to do with the other -- TLN and Big 12 Conference stability. In fact, the reason Texas stayed in the Big 12 last year was because it wanted to pursue its own network. Without Nebraska and Colorado, the Big 12 is leaner in football and flat-out a monster in basketball. We haven't even gotten to the Big 12's new TV deal which -- to quote Texas AD DeLoss Dodds -- is going to be worth SEC money" -- $17 million-$20 million per school per year.

I'm not into Big 12 bashing. Any league with Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Missouri (three 10 win seasons in the last four years) is formidable. It's going to be easier for the league to get two teams to the BCS each season without a championship game.

3.4 years? And some of us thought conference realignment had calmed down for a while. If an informal Twitter poll means anything, the upheaval has just begun.

This week's letters from the edge ...


From:
Wickedgrin1

I hope 2011 is better. 2010 left me feeling cheated by the NCAA, the SEC, the sports media herd, and Preacher Newton. I love the SEC and wanted to cheer for Auburn, but the smell was too great. And you in the media fed the momentum for that Newton thug, making this ripoff a fait accompli. I could not watch the biggest game of the year, and hung my head over the black eye to this greatest of all sports. With the possible nod to TCU, 2010 was the year without a national championship, and you in the media, the last line of defense, allowed it to be so.

Wicked:

What exactly did you want us to do? We reported the news to the best of our ability. We stayed on this Newton story so hard that the NCAA took the unusual step of dealing with player eligibility in the middle of an active investigation. What exactly did we miss?

We are, like you, still skeptical. We, like you, need closure from the 2010 season. We, like you, probably won't get it.


From: Richard

This is disturbing -- the new ESPN agreement with Texas. Notre Dame has had their own network for the past twenty years -- and, the last time I watched a Notre Dame football game -- including bowl games -- was the last year before their exclusive contract with NBC -- and, I am Catholic. Now Texas. This sets up a very disturbing and problematical hierarchy of the haves and have-nots and in the long run is not good for college football.

Since the NCAA has allowed Notre Dame to get away with this all these years without penalty or criticism -- they set themselves up for this eventual predicament. Once the genie is out of the bottle it is very difficult to put humpty-dumpty back together again. I don't know what the right answer is -- right now. But, I know this, these kind of arrangements would be considered unfair trade practices in the real-world and would be prohibited or highly discouraged.

Agitated:

Two words summed up your post -- "real world". There is no real world in college athletics. Notre Dame is private. Texas is public. One has to release balance sheet. The other doesn't. Both are among the richest schools in the country. And that's just a start. There are still 118 other schools with their own stories, desires and bank accounts.

We should have it figured out by now. Athletic departments are like board rooms -- selfish and worried about the bottom line. The "stock" in this case are young adults on scholarships on whose talents the schools' "stock" fluctuates.


From: Whatever

Brady White as the eighth-best hire [in Wednesday's story ranking the new hires 1-21] just because Miles and Harbaugh weren't hired?? Admittedly, Harbaugh would have been great for Michigan but the timing was wrong. It's hard to resist the NFL. But I definitely would rather have Hoke than Miles. There's something about the Miles situation that stinks... three years ago and now. In a few years, you will see that Hoke is a good short-term hire and probably the best long term coach for Michigan.

Whoever:

According to my research, you represent exactly 50 percent of the fans at Michigan right now. The other half wonder why the heck Dave Brandon couldn't do better.


From: Michael

There is no Louisiana-Lafayette. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette media guide has asked the media to call us UL, Louisiana or Ragin' Cajuns. The use of ULL or Louisiana-Lafayette is unexceptable.

Ragin' Politcally Incorrect:

It's also
unacceptable.

Serious tip: I have this rule that I've enforced for the 13 years I've been at CBSSports.com. This isn't some court room where you can change your last name when it suits you. You've got to earn it, over decades. Calling Ooo-La-La, Louisiana is arrogant and wrong. The same goes for Central Florida (not UCF) and South Florida (not USF). In other words, you're not a household name just because you say so.

All name changes should go through a panel made up of USC, UCLA, ACC and K-State officials.


From: Doug

Dennis--Maybe you or one of your colleagues has written about this already but I'd like to see something about the extremely poor example set the way Randy Edsall left UConn. Not telling his players, not taking a flight with the team after the bowl game. If he can't be man enough to tell his players he's leaving then I think he doesn't deserve to be coach in UConn, Maryland, anywhere. If I were a player I would not want to play for this clown. Fact is, Edsall is an average coach and recruiter, and he lucked out with the disaster of a league the Big East was this year.

Jilted:

I used to have a problem with this kind of conduct -- skating out of town without telling players. But what is this, a broken engagement or a new job? All Edsall owes his players is everything he gave them which is blood, sweat and tears for 12 years. He took a I-AA program and dragged it to the Fiesta Bowl. What else does he have to do at UConn?

He did make an honest attempt and spoke to a few key players by cell phone when they landed after the bowl game. He even apologized. I've got no problem with that. Edsall and Maryland kept this whole thing under wraps perhaps better than any of the other coaching searches this season. We didn't know Edsall was at Maryland -- until Edsall was at Maryland. Hurt feelings heal. Randy Edsall's only duty is to his family, his employer and his players. He has done all he could for all of them.


From: Bob

At this time, SEC has had a good run in football and the BCS, no doubt. However, when CBS & ESPN, ABC tells you that the SEC is great, I wonder. You guys are paying a lot of money to the SEC, you really can't say anything bad, and lose viewers. Sorta like patting your 8-year-old on the head telling everyone how great he is.

... or sorta like saying the sky is blue. We were merely stating the obvious, no matter how repetitive it might be. The SEC is fantastic until further notice. Nothing can change that no matter who runs the company.


From: John

I really don't get your sniping at the Legends and Leaders division names. Get a life. I think they are fine. Hopefully they will build into a tradition in time. I really don't get why you hate the Big Ten Conference so much. It sure does show.

Thank you, Mr. Delany. Your correspondence is appreciated.


From: Mike

I still wish that Butler had hit on that 3-point, 3-fourths of a court shot at the end of the NCAA Championship Game last year. That would have done more for parity, folklore, and equalizing all sports, big and small, at all levels of college sports. Duke would have deserved it, too!

Little Big Man:

Obviously you haven't been watching Boise State, TCU, Utah and Jacksonville State in football.


From: Steve

How does a national championship game that isn't even on network TV in prime time demonstrate that the whole BCS concept is a good idea? Give me back the days when all the games were on New Year's Day and the winner was crowned shortly thereafter.

Ding, ding, ding! We have found one of the two percent of people who don't have basic cable. What's it like watching Oprah all day?


From: Dan

I believe the TCU vs. Wisconsin game was a more of a comment on how weak the Big 10 conference is compared to other conferences. I admired TCU's win in the Rose Bowl but the problem with giving these small schools more BCS acknowledgment is their weak schedules, especially compared to the SEC, Big 12, etc. I know that TCU beat some good teams this year but it's the weekly grind of facing one big team after another each week that doesn't compare.

Mr. Gee:

Let's just make it the SEC vs. Big 12 every year and get over with, right?

TCU beat four teams with at least eight wins this season. Wisconsin beat three. TCU beat five bowl teams. Wisconsin beat four. TCU was one of two undefeated teams left in the country. Wisconsin was not. The Mountain West is considered just as good or better than the ACC and Big East and may have a BCS berth beginning in 2012.

Not exactly Little Sisters of the Poor, eh?

 

 

Posted on: January 21, 2011 1:50 pm
 

USC makes NCAA appeal, kills it in recruiting

This seemingly is going to be a great and horrible weekend for USC.

Talented recruits will visit the campus, possibly adding to an already loaded recruiting class. At the same time, a contingent of USC officials have landed in Indianapolis for Saturday's NCAA appeals hearing. AD Pat Haden is trying to get some relief from the crippling NCAA penalties that he inherited when he took office in August.

That it could be both a great and horrible weekend for Troy is a sign of the strength of the football program. Haden admits that the school's appeal is a long shot. He's hoping to halve the two-year bowl ban and the reduction of 30 scholarships over three years. It's not an all-or-nothing argument. The NCAA could honor none, some or all of USC's request.

"Our primary contention," associate AD J.K. McKay told reporters, "is, given what we were found to have done, these are the harshest penalties ever meted out."

At the same time, Lane Kiffin continues to pull big-time recruits -- possibly more than he can sign. The roster is down to 60 scholarships players. While the appeal is working its way through the system, though, the scholarship penalties are stayed. That means, conceivably, Kiffin could sign 25 players -- the NCAA limit -- get the roster up to 85 maximum and begin taking scholarship hits beginning in 2012.

Delaying a 30-scholarship hit doesn't seem to improve the situation unless, of course, Haden and USC get their way. They, and we, won't know for the next four-to-six weeks. That's the usual time for an appeal to be completed. If USC delays the scholarship hits, it couldn't sign a full class until 2015. If the 2011 bowl ban is upheld, USC could possibly be the poison pill in the first Pac-12 race. It could win the South Division but wouldn't be eligible for the conference's first (Pac-11?) championship game. Nothing says drama like a second-place team playing in a conference title game.


The thing is, it doesn't seem to matter. The quality of the current top-five class suggests that USC is going to weather the penalties relatively quickly either way. That is somewhat amazing for a program climbing out of penalties that were deemed to be death penalty-like. Kiffin has 17 commitments -- two over the limit if the appeal is denied. Nine other players who signed early count towards the 2010 class. Kiffin said after the penalties were handed down that the staff would have to be extremely selective and accurate because of the reduced scholarships. He also said that because it's USC the program might be able to get through the penalties relatively intact.

Hubris? Optimism? How about reality?

It has to be said: Kiffin and USC are killing it so far. Players still want to come to the program for the same reasons that have applied for decades -- it's L.A., it's sunny, it's a winning program and you can get to the NFL from there. It's the reason quarterback Matt Barkley didn't transfer knowing he may never play in another bowl game (assuming he stays only three years). It's the reason talented prospect Dillon Baxter came in last year's class pretty much knowing the program was about to be hammered.

The Trojans won eight games in 2010, the first year of that probation and should have won 10. It lost to Notre Dame for the first time since 2001. It got boat-raced by Oregon, the new power in the Pac-12. Depth was an issue. So was the offensive line and the front seven. But if this is as bad it gets, then USC will have absorbed a punch to the gut and kept on trucking.

Kiffin has a top-five recruiting class because he was able to get two of the top five recruits in the country -- receiver George Farmer and athlete De'Anthony Thomas. There are two other kids from USC go-to talent base Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. That's the home of Barkley and Matt Leinart as well as two Heisman winners (Leinart, John Huarte). 

As bad as things eventually turn out Saturday in Indianapolis, USC football may be turning the corner toward national prominence. Saturday could be horrible. The future, though, looks great.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 21, 2011 1:48 pm
 

USC makes NCAA appeal, kills it in recruiting

This seemingly is going to be a great and horrible weekend for USC.

Talented recruits will visit the campus, possibly adding to an already loaded recruiting class. At the same time, a contingent of USC officials have landed in Indianapolis for Saturday's NCAA appeals hearing. AD Pat Haden is trying to get some relief from the crippling NCAA penalties that he inherited when he took office in August.

That it could be both a great and horrible weekend for Troy is a sign of the strength of the football program. Haden admits that the school's appeal is a long shot. He's hoping to halve the two-year bowl ban and the reduction of 30 scholarships over three years. It's not an all-or-nothing argument. The NCAA could honor none, some or all of USC's request.

"Our primary contention," associate AD J.K. McKay told reporters, "is, given what we were found to have done, these are the harshest penalties ever meted out."

At the same time, Lane Kiffin continues to pull big-time recruits -- possibly more than he can sign. The roster is down to 60 scholarships players. While the appeal is working its way through the system, though, the scholarship penalties are stayed. That means, conceivably, Kiffin could sign 25 players -- the NCAA limit -- get the roster up to 85 maximum and begin taking scholarship hits beginning in 2012.

Delaying a 30-scholarship hit doesn't seem to improve the situation unless, of course, Haden and USC get their way. They, and we, won't know for the next four-to-six weeks. That's the usual time for an appeal to be completed. If USC delays the scholarship hits, it couldn't sign a full class until 2015. If the 2011 bowl ban is upheld, USC could possibly be the poison pill in the first Pac-12 race. It could win the South Division but wouldn't be eligible for the conference's first (Pac-11?) championship game. Nothing says drama like a second-place team playing in a conference title game.


The thing is, it doesn't seem to matter. The quality of the current top-five class suggests that USC is going to weather the penalties relatively quickly either way. That is somewhat amazing for a program climbing out of penalties that were deemed to be death penalty-like. Kiffin has 17 commitments -- two over the limit if the appeal is denied. Nine other players who signed early count towards the 2010 class. Kiffin said after the penalties were handed down that the staff would have to be extremely selective and accurate because of the reduced scholarships. He also said that because it's USC the program might be able to get through the penalties relatively intact.

Hubris? Optimism? How about reality?

It has to be said: Kiffin and USC are killing it so far. Players still want to come to the program for the same reasons that have applied for decades -- it's L.A., it's sunny, it's a winning program and you can get to the NFL from there. It's the reason quarterback Matt Barkley didn't transfer knowing he may never play in another bowl game (assuming he stays only three years). It's the reason talented prospect Dillon Baxter came in last year's class pretty much knowing the program was about to be hammered.

The Trojans won eight games in 2010, the first year of that probation and should have won 10. It lost to Notre Dame for the first time since 2001. It got boat-raced by Oregon, the new power in the Pac-12. Depth was an issue. So was the offensive line and the front seven. But if this is as bad it gets, then USC will have absorbed a punch to the gut and kept on trucking.

Kiffin has a top-five recruiting class because he was able to get two of the top five recruits in the country -- receiver George Farmer and athlete De'Anthony Thomas. There are two other kids from USC go-to talent base Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei. That's the home of Barkley and Matt Leinart as well as two Heisman winners (Leinart, John Huarte). 

As bad as things eventually turn out Saturday in Indianapolis, USC football may be turning the corner toward national prominence. Saturday could be horrible. The future, though, looks great.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: January 10, 2011 2:22 pm
 

Football Foundation could rip USC title


PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- The National Football Foundation board of directors will discuss vacating USC's 2004 national championship if the school loses its NCAA appeal later this month, NFF CEO and president Steve Hatchell told CBSSports.com Monday.

USC was awarded the prestigious MacArthur Bowl in 2004, signifying the foundation's national champion. USC's major penalties from June have caused various organizations to react negatively after it was found that tailback Reggie Bush was basically competing while ineligible in 2004 and 2005. For example,  the BCS is on record as saying it will vacate USC's title from that year if the school loses its Jan. 22 appeal in Indianapolis. USC is arguing that the penalties -- a two-year bowl ban and loss of 30 scholarships -- are too harsh.

"We're going to wait for the appeal. That seems like what everybody is doing," Hatchell said following Monday morning's Football Writers Association of America annual breakfast here.

The FWAA asked USC to return its '04 national championship award, the Grantland Rice Trophy, in August. The Heisman Trust vacated Bush's 2005 winning of the Heisman Trophy in September. On his own, Bush said he would return the trophy. The Heisman Trust has not commented on whether it has received the trophy four months after Bush was stripped of the award.

The MacArthur Bowl, recognized as one of major national championship awards, has been awarded annually since 1959. The winning school gets to keep the MacArthur Bowl for one year after winning it. It receives a permanent plaque. Hatchell said if the foundation decides to vacate that USC's name would be removed from the MacArthur Bowl, which is named after Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

The National Football Foundation was established in 1947 to "promote and develop the power of amateur football". It also oversees the College Football Hall of Fame which is in the process of moving from South Bend, Ind. to Atlanta. The foundation's annual December awards dinner in New York is considered one of the biggest events on the college football calendar.

 

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com