Posted on: June 10, 2010 3:39 pm

Let's get this out of the way...

I was wrong. USC didn't walk.

But as a columnist I am allowed to be wrong. It's an opinion, not a mortgage. I don't have to pay.

Seantrel Henderson? That's another matter. The nation's No. 1 recruit came to USC with the same belief I did in writing that column.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: USC
Posted on: June 9, 2010 11:16 pm
Edited on: June 9, 2010 11:27 pm

NCAA could announce USC penalties on Thursday

NCAAThe L.A. Times is reporting that USC has received its NCAA findings . The NCAA could announce the penalties as soon as Thursday.

Our long (four years) national nightmare might finally be over.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: USC
Posted on: May 20, 2010 8:38 pm

BCS can vacate USC's 2004 title

The BCS has the power  to vacate one of its championships should USC be found guilty violating of NCAA bylaws. The question is, what form would that take?

USA Today reported Wednesday that a little-known BCS rule added in January 2007 allows the BCS to vacate the championship of a team if it has found to be guilty of major rules violations. USC is awaiting penalties -- if any -- regarding the Reggie Bush case. Bush is alleged to have taken money and extra benefits from would-be agents while at the school. If he is ruled by the NCAA to have competed while ineligible, the association could strip USC victories while he was at the school. Only, then would the BCS step in.

But the NCAA doesn't sponsor a championship in football so it essentially has no jurisdiction on USC's '04 title. How the BCS would strip that title isn't clear.

The BCS can't compel the American Football Coaches Association or the Associated Press to take back trophies from the Trojans' 2004 championship season.  In other sports besides football, the NCAA typically only removes references of championships in media guides and record books of teams that have vacated wins.

In the case of the BCS, what record books? What media guides? The BCS runs a website, bcsfootball.org, and puts out a small pamphlet-like media guide each season. 

Since 1998, the AFCA has awarded a trophy to the winner of the BCS title game. The AP awards a trophy to a team that finishes No. 1 among the voters in its final poll. AP told the BCS to drop it from its formula a few years ago, in part due to a conflict of interest among its voters.

A college football national championship has never been forfeited or vacated (in the wire service era since 1936).

"The NCAA will do whatever we do," one BCS official said.

The NCAA has section in its record book recognizing BCS champions.

The NCAA has vacated those records and championships in basketball and other sports. That typically involves removing a teams' wins and championships of record books and media guides. In the case of Florida State's Bobby Bowden, it would have involved no reference its former coach being the all-time winningest coach in NCAA history.

Prior to his retirement, the veteran coach was within reach of catching Joe Paterno for No. 1 on the all-time list. The NCAA then forced Florida State to vacate 12 of his victories. Bowden finished with 377 career victories.

Category: NCAAF
Posted on: April 26, 2010 12:10 pm

NFL draft, expansion and bowls

It's pretty simple.

You’re an SEC assistant (or head coach). You go into a home. You tell select recruit that your best chance to play for a national championship and NFL football is in the SE of C!

End of argument.  No negative recruiting. No money under the table (well, maybe not). This is the not-so-secret of the SEC winning four consecutive championships. Forget all the other analysis, the NFL draft reflects why the SEC has it rolling. It has tied or led in number of NFL draftees 11 of the last 13.

The Strength Everywhere Conference had 49 players drafted last week. Think if it adds any combination of Miami, Florida State or Texas, the SEC gets stronger?

 Interesting piece in the Omaha-World Herald regarding Nebraska chancellor Harvey Perlman. He's more than a power broker considering he's also on the Big 12 board of directors and chairman of the BCS presidential oversight committee.

Perhaps most telling is Perlman's super conference assessment, " ... 24 teams [in a league] has been floated, though not publicly ..."


 Thirty-five bowls? Really. That's not the most shocking aspect of the NCAA certifying a record number of bowls for the next four-year cycle.

The shock is that the NCAA reportedly has a "contingency plan" in case there aren't 70 bowl-eligible teams. Bruce Binkowski, executive director of the Holiday Bowl, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that all the slots will be filled no matter what.

"They don't have a formula yet," Binkowski was quoted as saying, "but the NCAA has told all the bowls that if there aren't enough  bowl-eligible teams, all the bowls will still be played."

That can only mean one thing: 5-7 teams in bowl games.

And just to put more fear in the bowls' hearts consider the Hawaii angle. Teams are allowed a 13th game if they play a non-conference game in the islands. Because they are playing 13-game schedules, UNLV and USC will have to win at least seven to qualify for a bowl. Unless, of course, the NCAA needs to fill those 70 slots.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Hawaii, Nebraska, SEC, UNLV, USC
Posted on: April 20, 2010 4:47 pm

Pac-10 schedule breakdown

The best thing about the Pac-10 is that it plays a true round-robin with only three, usually strong, non-conference games.

The worst thing about the Pac-10 is that is plays a true round-robin with only three, usually strong, non-conference games.

Ask the coaches.

While the Pac-10 produces a "true" champion, there are plenty of reasons to question the scheduling philosophy. The unbalanced schedule means nine conference games. Half of the league is playing four conference home games and five away games. That puts more pressure on getting just the right mix of three non-conference games. Six Pac-10 teams will be playing I-AA teams this season. Arizona State is playing two. USC gets a 13th game this season by playing in Hawaii and is still playing seven road games.

That means there are plenty of land mines out there for the contenders and a chance for the Pac-10 to drop off the national title radar this season. Even with the loss of Jeremiah Masoli, Oregon will be favored. The Ducks, though, still have to travel to USC and Oregon State as well as Tennessee in the non-conference.

If the Pac-10 expands -- a decision is coming soon -- it probably will have to abandon the round-robin scheduling format.  It might not be such a bad thing to add a winnable non-conference game and drop a conference game that could ruin your season.

Game of the year:  (non-conference) Notre Dame at USC, Nov. 27. There are other tasty games (UCLA at Texas, Oregon State at Boise, Oregon State vs. TCU in Arlington, Texas), but it's never bad to go with tradition.

Neither the Irish nor the Trojans will likely be favored to win any championships this season. That's hardly the point. There's a new coach on each side in this game for the first time since 1941 (Sam Barry and Frank Leahy). USC's current winning streak over Notre Dame (eight) is a game more than Lane Kiffin has won (seven as a college coach).  Brian Kelly tries to  bring the zone read option to a program that is searching for an identity.

Heismans are won and souls are crushed in this game. You have to watch.


Game of the year: (conference)  Oregon at Oregon State, Dec. 4. The Civil War reached new heights last season when the Ducks were featured on a Thursday night in their road to the Rose Bowl. It's hard to describe the intensity in this game but when it makes an impression on the Big Ten commissioner who know it's special.

"The games that were regional became national," said Delany speaking about the BCS has been able to highlight certain games. "Once they got me to watch Oregon-Oregon State, they got me to watch other games."

Team on the spot:  Arizona State. Three years ago the Sun Devils actually won a share of the Pac-10. Since then, they are 9-15. Only six of those victories have come against BCS conference schools. Dennis Erickson's star has faded fast. No one is expecting the Sun Devils to do much this season. With two I-AAs on the schedule (Portland State and Northern Arizona), a bowl is a must isn't it?

Toughest non-conference schedule:
UCLA. It's all about momentum. In his third season, Rick Neuheisel has to have it. By the first week of October he could lose it.

An 0-4 start is a definite possibility. There are no breathers in the non-non which is broken up by an early conference opener in the second week against Stanford at the Rose Bowl.

I dare any team to try this September schedule in consecutive weeks:

Sept. 4 -- at Kansas State. The improving Wildcats came within a game of winning the Big 12 North last season. Under Bill Snyder at this point they are capable of beating anyone outside the top 10. UCLA needs to mature in a hurry on offense. If it doesn't in this game, it could be another lost season.

Sept. 11 -- Stanford.  This was supposed to be an off field before it got switched for television. (Stanford was originally scheduled for Oct. 16) At least the Bruins get the Cardinal at home before (perhaps) the Pac-10's best quarterback, Andrew Luck, can get on a roll.

Sept. 18 -- Houston. This is the real WTF? Houston beat Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Mississippi State on its way to a 10-win season last year. Case Keenum sure as heck isn't going to be intimidated by the Rose Bowl. This is a pick-'em at best, a Houston victory if Keenum heats up. This is the beginning of a two for one and gives the Bruins some face time in Texas, but wedged in where it is ... tough, tough, tough.

Sept. 25 -- at Texas. More face time in Texas but this is not the game you need at this time. Mack Brown has promised that the offense will become more physical this season. The Bruins better muscle up on D coming off meetings with Luck and Keenum.

Easiest non-conference schedule: Arizona State. As mentioned, Portland State and Northern Arizona kick off the season. That means the Sun Devils will have to win seven this season to go to a bowl game. It can count only one I-AA against bowl eligibility.

Reality sets in the next week at Wisconsin.




Posted on: March 30, 2010 10:37 pm
Edited on: March 31, 2010 12:20 pm

How the UTEP hire helps USC

USC has to feel good about Texas-El Paso's hiring of Tim Floyd. Maybe better than UTEP.

The hiring indicates that Floyd will not be penalized in connection with the NCAA's investigation of USC. You've seen the headlines: Floyd allegedly paid an associate of former Trojan O.J. Mayo $1,000. He resigned two months later and said in January his departure had to do with a deteriorating relationship with AD Mike Garrett. Floyd has maintained his innocence throughout.

Half the battle, then, might be won for Garrett with his two major sports staring down an NCAA gun barrel.

Don't be surprised if UTEP checked with the NCAA infractions committee through channels to determine if Floyd was going to be involved in USC penalties. It's interesting to note that Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky is on the committee.

Still, UTEP is still in a unique position. The USC case is still open. What if a show-cause order is attached to Floyd by the NCAA?  Show-cause means if a school hiring a coach who has been slapped with such a designation must appear before the NCAA to explain why it shouldn't face penalties.

A show-case usually can be a career killer for a coach wanting to work in college again. Former Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson is currently under a five-year show cause. Dave Bliss, formerly of Baylor, has a 10-year show-cause. Current Morgan State coach Todd Bozeman was given an eight-year penalty after his issues at Cal. 

But none of those coaches had taken another college job before his show-cause. I person familiar with the NCAA process told me that such a penalty would follow Floyd to UTEP. That's potentially a messy situation.

I spoke to UTEP AD Bob Stull on Tuesday who said the school had done its "due diligence" in vetting out Floyd. Stull is proud of the fact that there have been no major violations on his watch and called Floyd, "a man of integrity." 

" We weren’t the only one out there talking to him [to coach]," Stull said. "As much as Tim loves El Paso, the situation at USC made him available to us. We feel like we have a guy who is an icon in the community. He's a good fit for us."

Floyd is a good fit particularly at UTEP because he was one of Don Haskins' lead assistants in the 1970s and 1980s. Given his recent past, he's not going to use UTEP as a steppingstone. That also makes Stull feel good. Three of his last four hires -- Tony Barbee, Billy Gillispie and Doc Sadler -- took the Miners to the NCAA Tournament.

Floyd should do the same.

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Baylor, Cal, Oklahoma, USC, UTEP
Posted on: March 19, 2010 1:48 pm
Edited on: March 19, 2010 4:27 pm

Bellotti misses coaching, hates being an AD

Just what the world needs, another talking head.

Just what Mike Bellotti needs, time to sort out his career.

It's certain that ESPN isn't hiring Bellotti to spin stories about his 8 1/2 months on the job as Oregon's athletic director. When the Ducks' coaching legend abruptly resigned Friday to take an analyst's job with ESPN, he descended into a sort of purgatory.

He hates being an AD, but there aren't any coaching jobs available, at least for 2010. He probably isn't sure he even wants a coaching job. But the possibility is out there and will remain out there.  Meanwhile, he gets to keep Lou Holtz and Lee Corso in line.

And he thought the Jeremiah Masoli situation was a nightmare?

It's been done before and it's been done often. Former coach goes to the TV to talk some ball while simultaneously marketing himself to some interested AD. That's not to say Bellotti will ever coach again but does anyone doubt that he misses it? The man himself still talks fondly about missing Friday nights and Saturday game days with the team. What he didn't particularly care for was the recruiting. But do any of them? It's a drug, like sports writing, that gets in your DNA and doesn't let go.

It impacts your family, it impacts your health. Coaches and hacks share the same job view: No matter detrimental it is, you keep realizing you can't live without it.

There was something that seemed too soon about Bellotti stepping down as coach last year when Chip Kelly took over. The vibe I got was that he had more to give.  Then and now. The AD thing sure didn't satisfy his career goals. His brief tenure has been, well, a mess .  Bellotti had to deal with the football program's off-field problems as well as fire coach Ernie Kent.

He was probably thinking, "Who needs the aggravation?"

As a coach, he was a mini-Paterno or Bowden, a guy whose touch had made the school a national brand. All Bellotti had to do was blow a whistle, recruit and take Phil Knight's calls. Oregon football was on cruise football. It seems to me Bellotti is jonesing for that good life again, at least a different life.

 Maybe he will re-invent himself as a TV guy.  ESPN certainly could use some youth in its college football coverage. Lee and Lou not only are flat-out old, their shtick has worn thin.

Maybe in Bellotti's mind he checked out too soon. This move keeps him close to the game while figuring out what to do with the rest of his life.

As I said, none of this means Bellotti will actually get back into coaching. There aren't any jobs available. In a year there might not be any jobs that fit him.  Example: You're not going to see Bellotti taking the Utah State job. 

It does give him time to think, to plan, to re-emerge. I do know that a lot of schools would hire him in a heartbeat. When he was coaching, his name would come up all the time, most famously at USC before it hired Pete Carroll and Ohio State before it hired Jim Tressel.

No matter what happened Friday, we still don't know for sure if Mike Bellotti is resigning from college athletics. We do know he's transitioning. To what, we're not quite sure but it's clear he still prefers calling plays more than shuffling paper.



Category: NCAAF
Posted on: March 15, 2010 1:18 pm
Edited on: March 15, 2010 1:19 pm

Seantrel Henderson to sign with USC

Apparently, Seantrel Henderson is OK with USC's NCAA future.

The father of the nation's No. 1 prep recurit told me on Monday that his son will sign a letter of intent with USC on Thursday. Seantrel Henderson committed to USC on signing day (on CBS College Sports). On the same day his dad Sean said his son was concerned about possible penalties USC would receive from the NCAA.

USC appeared before the NCAA infractions committee Feb. 19-21. The aftermath wasn't good, as stacks of files were wheeled out of the conference room in Tempe, Ariz. Plus, the hearing lasted all three days, a bad indicator according to experts.

Henderson may know otherwise. The big tackle is expected to anchor the USC offensive line, possibly as a freshman. 

USA Today reported Monday that Henderson had received his ACT scores recently and was academically eligible.

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