NCAA Drops the Hammer on USC

After years of investigating alleged major violations that took place at USC under Pete Carroll, the NCAA announced Wednesday that the alleged violations were indeed real violations serious enough to place the Trojans on a 2-year bowl ban and take away 30 scholarships over a 3 year span. The punishment, which had been speculated about for months if not years, delivered a major blow to one of the nation’s elite programs over the last decade.

Pete Carroll and Reggie Bush are no longer at USC, but Bush's actions while Carroll was running the program have resulted in major sanctions on the Southern Cal program.  (Photo - IconSMI)
Pete Carroll and Reggie Bush are no longer at USC, but Bush's actions while Carroll was running the program have resulted in major sanctions on the Southern Cal program. (Photo - IconSMI)

On top of the loss of scholarship losses and the bowl ban, USC will also have to vacate 14 wins from the 2004 and 2005 seasons and could potentially lose their 2005 BCS Championship while Reggie Bush, the main culprit behind the violations, could lose his 2005 Heisman Trophy.

The vacated wins, just for clarification, will not count as victories for the teams USC beat in those contests so Notre Dame’s all-time winning percentage, which still ranks 2nd in NCAA history, will not be affected.

Bush has been the focus of the NCAA’s investigation that determined the former Trojan star received improper gifts along with USC basketball star OJ Mayo while they were still enrolled at the university.  The inclusion of Mayo in the case resulted in the NCAA citing a lack of institutional control as the reasoning behind the major sanctions it imposed Wednesday.

USC will appeal the decision by the NCAA according to the school and new head coach Lane Kiffin, but no time frame is set.

The NCAA made an example out of USC and they did it by affecting their future and tarnishing their legacy as one of the elite programs of the last decade.

The bowl ban will be a hindrance on the recruiting front, but the loss of scholarships is what will hurt the most. USC will lose 10 scholarships a year for the next three years, for a total of 30 lost scholarships, meaning that they can only sign 15 players in each of the next three recruiting classes.

To put that into perspective, that’s fewer recruits than Notre Dame added to its roster in the final three recruiting classes of Tyrone Willingham – a circumstance many blame for a lot of Notre Dame’s struggles and deficiencies after his departure.

In all likelihood, USC will be trying replace more than 15 players in each of the next three seasons and will find themselves well below the 85 scholarship limit once the scholarship limitations are lifted for their class of 2014.

Further complicating matters for Kiffin and USC, upperclassmen with 2 years or less of eligibility will be able to transfer to any school they want without having to sit out for a year like a transfer normally would. It remains to be see, however, how many, if any, juniors or seniors will explore transfer options at this time.

Incoming freshmen who have signed letters of intent to attend USC, however, will not be able to transfer without first sitting out a year. The ability to transfer without sitting out a season only affects players who will be out of eligibility by the time the post season ban concludes.

The NCAA also ruled that non-university personnel can no longer be present for USC practices or stand on the sidelines during games. During the Carroll Era at Southern Cal, celebrities like Will Ferrell and Snoop Dog were regulars at practices and on game day.

Luckily for Notre Dame fans, the NCAA did not place any restrictions on USC’s ability to appear on television although they did consider it. Had they placed the Trojans on a TV ban, Notre Dame fans would not have been able to see the Irish and the Trojans continue their rivalry without attending the games in person for the length of the ban.

USC and Pete Carroll’s legacies were also affected by Wednesday’s news. Carroll was considered one of the greatest college coaches in the last quarter century prior to the sanctions. Now he’ll be viewed as a coach who bolted for the greener pastures of the NFL while leaving the program he built high and dry in the face of major violations that could debilitate the program for years to come.

Then there’s the matter of USC’s 2005 BCS Championship. Because of the vacated wins, the Trojans could end up losing their only BCS title of the Carroll Era should the BCS decide to revoke the title. If that happens, Carroll’s dynasty will be reduced to a single co-championship in 2004 when they shared a title with BCS Champ LSU. The BCS said on Wednesday that they will not make any decisions until an appeal process is concluded. Should the BCS decide to vacate USC’s 2005 title, there will be no BCS Champion for that season.

Bush meanwhile could lose his 2005 Heisman Trophy as well. The Heisman committee did not have any comment today but did say they would make one at an appropriate time.

Considering the length of time the NCAA investigated USC it seemed there were only two possible outcomes. Either they would come down hard on USC for the lack of institutional control or they would only give the Trojans a slap on the wrist.

The NCAA choose to do the former and made an example out of USC.

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  1. “wouldn’t be. . .”

    USC also graduates some incredibly gifted people. But Spielberg isn’t one of them. He’s an alumnus of Cal State Long Beach. CSLB’s film department has a waiting list of about three years to get into. It’s that competitive. Spielberg returned seven or eight years ago to complete his degree and turned in Schindler’s List for his senior project. How’d you like to be on that jury? The LA Times ran photos of him at that year’s commencement.

    When I worked at ND I used to joke with the students working for me that they’d someday have to work for someone who graduated from a public university, or maybe even someone who didn’t even go to college. One of them bragged incessantly about how ND was such a great college only to come back a year after graduating to tell me his boss graduated from a small state college and was one of the smartest people he’d ever met.

    It bears remembering that 80% of all college students in the US are enrolled at public universities. One of my best friends went to Georgia and she has a doctorate from Princeton.

  2. The name on a diploma doesn’t mean much when you hit the real world. Florida produces doctors, lawyers, professors, and other professionals. I’ve met Alabama alumni with incredible careers. ND isn’t the only university on the block. My fiance graduated from IUSB but will be going to med school.

    An associate’s is two years. Most chemical engineering gigs require at least a bachelor’s degree. Maybe if this kid had his BS he would be tending bar. Then again, I don’t think Georgia or Florida offer associate’s degrees as they’re generally granted by community and junior colleges and not major research univerisities.

    Myron Rolle won a Rhodes Scholarship while at Florida State, another school much maligned by Domers. Who was the last ND player to win a Rhodes, or even a Fulbright?

    I know this won’t be a popular post. But my point is that knocking people who go to other schools only gives ND haters ammunition to say ND’s arrogant.

    It’s not where you go to college, it’s what you do while you’re there. If you study hard, anything is possible.

    1. allND,

      Of course you are right with your reply and your assesment.
      Our coutry is dotted with great University’s big and small.
      They produce many people of outstanding quality who make major contributions to our society.
      We understand that making a joke or amusing story on a public blog is difficult at best without stepping on someone’s toes, and leaves the door open for rebuttle.
      But I have also visited other sites that polk fun at ND. Many a lot worst than what is written here.
      You know, we aren’t the only University open to riddicule on the block as well. We have always taken our fair share of being the butt of a joke.
      And to be honest, there are a few out there that are actually pretty funny.
      I try to find something funny to smile or laugh about each day, because without a little humor, life in today’s world can become pretty grim.
      That should bear remembering as well.
      But that’s just me.

  3. I have a good one from an SEC fan. Met this guy along with an ND fan from Indy while waiting for a flight at the airport. ThiThe SEC fan claimed to get and associates degree in chemical engineering from the University of Georgia. He finished at U of Florida. It sounded like he was in love the Florida football players, Weurffel, the doofus on ESPN, etc.. I think he wants to bear Tim Tebow’s love child. So the guy starts trashing Notre Dame until he finds out the other two of us in the conversation are fans and I am an alum. I come to find out, he’s tending bar. So I have no problem with that, except for one thing. How do you trash ND when our players are also true students and our education level makes every SEC school save Vandebilt look like KinderCare? That’s like saying striving for anything beyond mediocrity is bad. Would you want your doctor to strive for mediocrity? How about the folks who design your car, or the plane you might fly in? Or oil wells? ( Oops, maybe they were grads from an SEC school).

    I’d bet a chemical engineer from Duke, Stanford, Northwestern, Cornell, or other truly rated University would have been more intelligent in their comments. I mean Wow!

    1. A guy gets an associates degree in chemical engineering
      from Georgia/Florida and he’s tending bar! (I’m laughing my ass off already!)

      Where’s the part about the pizza delivery guy who played for the wolverines in 97′

      “striving for anything beyond mediocrity is bad. Would you want your doctor to strive for mediocrity? How about the folks who design your car, or the plane you might fly in?”

      Those I could probably live with, but I draw the line at mediocrity when it comes to my bartenders!
      I mean, come on, the guy’s a chemical engineer for christ sake! He should know how to mix alcohol!

      As far as oil wells go, I’m pretty sure there is some smart ass Irish grad who can tell those folks down there how to put a cork in it!

      Thanks for the laughs C-Dog!

  4. So the famous “Bush Push” Game has been vacated from the record books.
    Unfortunetly, ND doesn’t get a extra win for that season. NCAA Justice.
    Perhaps there is someone out there who can edit the replay showing Lienart getting stopped at the goal line, time running out, and the ND faitfull going crazy. (no bush push)

    I’ve watched the original replay many times. I’d love to see a edited version just once.

    On a side note* I remember after that game, Charlie Weis took his son over to the USC locker room to offer them their congradulations on a great game. Charlie’s son was heart broken at the time. I was tough for both of them to do. It was a lesson in humility and sportsmanship.

    Too bad the USC coaches and players didn’t pay closer attention to it, it was, what could have been, a far greater lesson for USC at the time.

    1. And Leinert shouldn’t have been on that field either. One, 1-Credit class in ballroom dancing should have disqualified him from playing that year. He was more accurately in NFL orientation training. To me, that is USC’s most heinous violation.

  5. Talk about bad timing. During the afternoon the NCAA anounces sanctions agianst USC, and that very same evening, Kiffin has to travel to San Francisco to talk to a bunch of boosters.
    I find the thought of Lame Kiffn, with his bare a$$ hanging out, and having to go to San Fran quite amusing.
    At least those folks are extremely courteous, When Lane goes to sit down, I’m sure there will be plenty of boosters there willing to push his stool in for him.

  6. Seantral Henderson ended up signing w/ USC in March because Kiffin convinced him that the penalties would not be severe (if any). Great foresight.

  7. Any word on USC JR and SR transfers? I recall Marc Tyler having ND high on his list and wondered if BK would go after him.

    Also, like micky asked any word on Big OT Seantral Henderson?

  8. Any word on what the incoming OT for USC from Minn, Henderson will do?
    Wasn’t he sitting on the fence concerning signing the national letter of intent.

  9. I’m interested to see how many players actually transfer from this whole mess. I wonder if any will come to South Bend?

    Kiffin’s quote this afternoon about his players leaving USC to play elsewhere: “If someone wants to leave the best place in the country to play football, we won’t stop them.”

    What an arse!!

    1. You really think a USC junior or senior, who larned in that program, is a RKG? No way. I’m all for recycling but some trash is just trash.

  10. I agree with JohnnyNetBug; NCAA sanctions hurt only the future and current players and not the predecessors who caused them.
    I think the post-season ban should be lifted, and any monies produced through the USC name should go to charity. And I don’t mean the players…
    If the NCAA really wants to punish the cause (Pete and Reggie), then take away the national championship and the Heisman.

  11. Never give up your values for easy gain. The end does not justify the means.

    It’s not about doing what feels good. It’s about doing what’s right. In all of USC’s rhetoric over the last 10 years, and all of Pete Carroll’s talk about winning, I never heard a proud stance on doing it with integrity. I never heard them celelbrate the student in student athlete. They really felt that winning justified how they got there. They never wanted their methods questioned.

    Well, friends, your ethical conduct is even more important than your material success. In fact when we all face our Maker, football wins won’t come up. And that goes for ND too. What will come up is how each of us conducted ourselves according to moral values. We can say that here on a Notre Dame site because without God, Notre Dame doesn’t exist. USC once was faith based but gave it up.

    Remember, God already knows what’s going to happen with Bill Clinton, AIG execs, MCI Worldcom execs, Enron Execx, Mike Garrett, and Pete Carroll. Those people can’t redefine right and wrong just to justify their actions. They’ll have mirrors placed in front of them showing the truth. They won’t like what they see.

    Let’s all of us be happy that ND isn’t doing this. But let’s also use it as a warning. ND will win another football championship, but I’d never want ND to sacrifice the values of Christian faith for winning a kids backyard game.

    Go IRISH!!

    1. I find the whole mess really sad.
      USC has every advantage.
      Great location, great weather,
      sandy beaches, mountians, great night life, lots of pretty girls, Hollywood, fine facilities, and unmatched recruiting grounds.
      They had the best players, and knowledgeable coaches.
      Why in Gods name did they need to cheat?
      As I understand it, the NCAA is going to leave 2005 without a national Champ, and the Heismen committy may strip the award from Bush.
      That school screwed the entire college football nation that year.
      Now they can add that to their list of great traditions.

  12. FXM –

    Thats ok. Remember, the BC series was just extended. Their fans like to spit on our players prior and after the game but BK’s lads will have the BC players spitting blood on the field. That should help temper the SC sanction excuse when we get payback under the Kelly era against the trojans.

  13. Justice is necessary, but I will lament hearing for the next several years when we beat them that it is because of sanctions.

  14. Just heard that former USC coach Pete Carroll is releasing a new book about the Penilities handed down from the NCAA and there affects on the USC nation.
    It’s called “Whining Forever”

    Exspect to see Fran Drescher in the lead roll as Pete Carroll when the movie comes out.

  15. I’m glad to see the NCAA step up and do what is right. For a long time (through the years of investigation) I figured that they would just slap them on the wrist as well. The hammer was dropped and now they will suffer the consequences. The only thing I do not agree with is the post season ban. I think the players that are there now, as much as I despise that team and their players, should not have to pay for the faults of their peers, however the institution should not be able to profit from post season play. The loss of scholarships alone hurt their chances of the post season anyway. Overall it’s a good lesson learned for all athlete’s in the NCAA.

    Another question that I think about is how many other players over the last few years got paid and not caught? “Come play for USC, we’ll pay you 300K! and look the other way”….

    Go Irish….Stay Classy

  16. USC. The University of Spoiled Children. (see Todd Marinovich) Is integrity more valuable than rivalry? That’s a valid question. But with the current shake-up in the landscape of college football, would ND do best to “keep our friends close – and our enemies closer”? But what if USC becomes a pox on the integrity of the sport, like UMiami was in my hay-day? (the ’80’s) Swarbrick has a lot of issues to resolve and I wish him the best of luck – for our sakes.

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