Tag Archives: University of Southern California

The Coach Who Knew Too Little

I am a Notre Dame fan but I have always respected the incredible job that Pete Carroll and his staff did at USC.  As Notre Dame fans know, turning a bad team into a championship contender is a big task.  Now according to the NCAA, one of the reasons that Pete Carroll had some much success at USC was that some of it’s players were receiving illegal benefits from boosters and agents.  In the video below, Pete Carroll said he didn’t know any of this was happening.

Umm, that’s what has the NCAA so angry at USC over.  It’s called a lack of institutional control and like it or not Pete, it’s your job to know what is going on and stop it.  As Yahoo! Sports sees it.

To some extent that’s part of the NCAA’s argument: With tens of thousands of dollars in cash and perks changing hands between a genuine superstar and a pair of opportunists (one of them an ex-con) openly angling to become the player’s agents when he turns pro, how can you not know what’s going on? And if you honestly don’t, isn’t that just as big a problem? The NCAA’s report paints the program under Carroll as anything but "vigilant," indirectly implicating him for his role helping create a loose, celebrity-laden environment in which players felt "entitled to special treatment," and "which almost certainly contributed to the difficulties of compliance staff in achieving a rules-compliant program."

While decrying the influence of "external elements" above, Carroll was directly implicated in the report in lobbying marketers to hire players for part-time jobs and internships that were open to "USC student-athletes and only USC student-athletes." One of those arrangements was for Bush’s internship with marketer Michael Ornstein. Ornstein, once convicted for attempting to defraud the NFL, is cited in the NCAA report as providing improper airfare for Bush’s family. Ornstein later represented Bush after he turned pro, until he was fired midway through Bush’s rookie season.

Certainly that fits under an "atmosphere of noncompliance." But it pales in comparison to the report’s smoking gun of institutional knowledge and negligence, a single paragraph on page 23 describing a phone call between running backs coach Todd McNair and would-be agent Lloyd Lake. Lake is one half of New Era Sports & Entertainment, the fledgling agency founded by Lake and Michael Michaels at the behest of Bush’s stepfather. New Era was responsible for the vast majority of funds and perks funneled to Bush in 2004-05. According to the report, McNair had become aware of at least part of the arrangement while attending a party in San Diego with a USC tutor in the spring of 2005. (The timeline suggests this was a birthday party for Marshall Faulk, also attended by Bush, whose hotel stay was gratis.) USC itself conceded it was "substantially correct" that McNair, Bush and a recruit on an official visit were together with both New Era partners in a club on Oct. 29, 2005, after multiple phone calls from McNair to Lake. McNair also appeared in a photo that night with Lake and a mutual friend, actor/comedian Faizon Love, who later reportedly hooked Lake up with notorious L.A. gangster Suge Knight to help "negotiate" after the agency’s relationship with Bush had broken down. [UPDATE, June 11, 5:56 a.m. ET] Readers are encouraged to read USC’s response to the NCAA’s allegations, filed last year, in which it argues McNair had no significant relationship with Lake and accuses the NCAA of basing its allegations against McNair almost solely on Lake’s uncorroborated testimony. The NCAA, obviously, concluded Lake was telling the truth.

The conclusion is

If the NCAA’s account is accurate, that is an assistant coach — i.e., "the university," by extension — with not only direct knowledge of major violations involving his best player, but with direct participation in keeping the scheme under wraps. And who, on top of that, was caught in a lie by an organization that punishes lying as severely as any infraction that crosses its path.

I know USC fanboys will never see this punishment as legit but every coach uses the excuse that “I had no idea” but at the end of the day it is their job to know what their players are involved in and the players know the consequences for non-compliance.  USC and other universities have entire staff of compliance officers to ensure their players (and coaches) are following the rules.  To claim ignorance is to claim incompetence and that is exactly what the University of Southern California is being punished for.

USC

flotim Flloydyd O.J. Mayo
Pete Carroll Reggie Bush

Dan Wetzel on the NCAA’s punishment of USC

The Trojans will be docked 30 scholarships in football, 10 each year over a three-year period, the highest total in 15 years.

The NCAA issued a two-year bowl ban, which is extra significant because it allows current juniors and seniors to transfer to another school without sitting out a season. The pain of any personnel losses would be compounded by the scholarship limits that make replacing them difficult.

It deemed Bush ineligible starting with the 2004 Orange Bowl, where the Trojans won the BCS national title. That means USC will vacate that victory as well as all results in 2005. The separate Bowl Championship Series will determine if it will strip USC of its title. The Heisman Trust in New York will do the same concerning Bush’s Heisman Trophy.

There was more too: four years probation, sanctions on the men’s basketball and women’s tennis programs, the returning of some postseason money and other recruiting restrictions.

The punishment’s were pretty severe but i would love to see a ban on NCAA coaching for guys like Pete Carroll and Tim Floyd.  Lane Kiffin get’s punished.  USC sports gets punished.  A lot of student athletes get punished but the coaches go on like nothing happened.  I am not a big USC fan but it makes me mad that the guys who are at least partially responsible for it, are the ones that are the least held responsible for their actions.

Pete Carroll to the Seattle Seahawks

Pete Carroll I really hate this.  I am not a USC fan but one has to respect the work that Pete Carroll did at the University of Southern California, unless of course all of those stories about nagging NCAA rule violations are true.  Then it bugs me that Pete Carroll who was in charge of the program during all of their success and rule violations gets to bolt for the NFL and make what is rumored to be $7 million a year while USC could be headed for punishments because of his actions (or lack of actions).

It’s the same with Jerry Tarkanian in basketball.  He coached three different school and each time he left as the NCAA noose was tightening in each spot.  I don’t know why colleges keep getting stuck with the consequences while the John Calipari’s of the world get new and higher profile jobs.  Bobby Knight is right, John Calipari should not be coaching.

As the New York Times reports, this is what USC has to look forward to.

Carroll’s flirtations with the N.F.L. are almost an annual rite, but this courtship has a different feeling from previous dalliances with teams like the Miami Dolphins and the Atlanta Falcons.

Much of that feeling stems from the N.C.A.A.’s investigation into the Trojans’ football program, which goes back to 2006. The university itself is investigating a Los Angeles Times report that tailback Joe McKnight, who declared for the N.F.L. draft on Friday, was driving a Land Rover purchased for his girlfriend by a local businessman.

“We just don’t pay attention to that,” Jackson said. “What we’re here for is football and school, so we’ll let compliance and all them take care of that. It doesn’t bother me so much.”

This week, the university imposed heavy sanctions on its basketball program because of violations in the recruitment of the former star O. J. Mayo. Since 2006, the N.C.A.A. has been investigating whether the family of the former Trojans running back Reggie Bush took as much as $300,000 in cash and goods from a would-be marketing agent while he was in college. While these problems have festered the past few weeks, Mike Garrett, the university’s athletic director, has made few public appearances or comments. Garrett declined to comment to reporters about Carroll on campus Friday evening while walking to his car. The university’s president, Steven Sample, plans to retire later this year.

Cloudy days ahead for USC, despite it’s location in sunny southern California and one of the guys who was a part of the problem get to go make $7 million annually somewhere else.  What a system.

How bad does Ohio State feel right now?

So if I am an Ohio State fan, I got to be feeling like I have been punched in the gut right now.  Not only does USC beat us at home last week but then today they go and lose to a really mediocre University of Washington team.  Before today you could keep telling yourselves that USC was an elite team that is a legitimate national title contender.  Now you have to be wondering if your team is very good at all as Washington had lost a Pac-10 record 15 straight games.  The good news for Ohio State is that they now play in a rather weak Big Ten conference and should still get to a BCS bowl where they will be humiliated once again, maybe even by USC.  The good news is there is always next year and the good news is that USC is nowhere on that schedule.  The bad news is that Miami is.

Problems in SoCal

University of Southern California Trojans As a long time Notre Dame fan, the following links about USC bring me more joy than you can imagine.