USC’s Punishment

by, Matt Alkire –

It has been a little while since the NCAA handed down their penalty to the USC Trojans and I wanted to take some time for the dust to clear before addressing the situation with an article. Unless you’re a USC fan, you’re undoubtedly jumping for joy as this is something football fans have wanted to see for quite some time now and while some of the penalties are harsh, some people are going overboard on others.    

First, USC has a two-year ban on bowl appearances. Normally I’d say this is a huge deal as I work in high school recruiting and know that most kids only watch bowl games, but the USC name is going to carry itself here, so for recruiting purposes I doubt this even hurts them. Also, unless you’re a Trojan fan you weren’t delusional enough to see them winning a National Championship in the next two years, so that’s out too. The bowl ban isn’t a big deal in my opinion.

USC will also be on probation for four years though and that’s where I see the fun coming into play. I can say from first-hand knowledge, simply reading the news and also from talking to plenty of sources that Lane Kiffin’s one-year stay in Tennessee was littered with violations. Most were minor that were reported, but some were major that weren’t reported. Those minor violations become a major problem when a team is on probation and Kiffin and staff are a train wreck waiting to happen in my opinion. That part could get interesting.

USC has to vacate their BCS title game from 2004 and all of their 2005 wins. That doesn’t affect Lane Kiffin, so I highly doubt he cares about it. His job is righting the ship at this time and that’s the least of his worries. It’s obviously an ink spot on the tuxedo for USC as a football program, but Jessica Biel is still waiting to dance and it’s time to cover it up and forget about it. If she doesn’t care that’s all that matters and that five-star corner from Mater Dei or Don Bosco probably won’t even think about it.

The proverbial arrow in the ankle if you will is the loss of 30 scholarships over the next three years for the football team. Also, juniors and seniors can immediately transfer from the program without having to sit out a year. For years people have seen USC go out on the field with a depth chart three-deep of five-star studs from all over the country and that simply will not be possible anymore. The Trojan staff will have to be very picky in recruiting and frankly, it may be best to let some players transfer or force people to graduate that aren’t going to contribute heavily, otherwise they’re going to run into recruiting classes of 7-10 kids at some point.

USC is going to have to start looking beyond talent and really keep an eye on the intangibles of the recruits they bring in. Are they mature enough to come in and handle themselves academically? Is this a high character kid that we don’t have to worry about getting caught doing something stupid? Are we recruiting a player that we’re 100-percent sure isn’t going to get homesick. Will this player bust his rear end on every single play and at the same time, will he be even the least bit afraid of competition? Will this five-star recruit play special teams? All important questions in my opinion and there are plenty more, but we’ll keep this article under 5,000 words.

One thing that USC can do here is form a rallying cry. Blame the NCAA. Call out your “proud tradition”. Do whatever the heck it takes to say “We’re USC, we’ve been kicking butt for a decade and we’re going to continue to do it if YOU come play for us”. Recruits love that attitude and will follow a coaching staff that preaches it. If Lane Kiffin and the rest of his staff and play the victim here, kids will fall right into their hands and they’ll at least be able to remain competitive in a Pac Ten Conference that was already starting to look like it was catching the Trojans.

USC can get through this without falling on their faces like Alabama did even though their penalties were worse. Pete Carroll laid the ground work for a dynasty and built something special out there whether or not you like the Trojans. Lane Kiffin simply needs to keep it together. From what I’ve seen, Kiffin doesn’t respect or follow the rules that the NCAA has laid out. When he went to Tennessee I gave it a year and he was out in a year. I don’t care if he left voluntarily, it happened. I just don’t think he’s the man to walk them along the tight rope they’ll be on the next four years.

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