Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

10 Jun 2010

USC Sanctioned, Loses Scholarships, Postseason Ban

Man, the college football news is coming fast and furious these last couple days. Tomorrow the NCAA will announce sanctions on USC that include a two-year ban on bowl appearances, a reduction in scholarships, and forfeiture of some wins from the 2004 season. Boy, Pete Carroll got out just in time, huh? I bet he had no idea this was coming. Heh.

The full report identifies specific penalties including a reduction of 30 football scholarships over 3 years.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 10 Jun 2010

72 comments, Last at 12 Jun 2010, 11:16am by Rocco


by BucNasty :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:53am

...and forfeiture of some wins from the 2004 season.


So how does this work?

by tuluse :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 1:27am

They change some numbers in a book somewhere.

by justanothersteve :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 8:57am

Darn it. I was hoping they had some sort of Time Machine where they could change the past. The NCAA commissioner hops into a car with gull-wing doors, guns it to 88 mph, and next thing you know Reggie Bush's parents never meet. Commissioner comes back and since he has no competition Lendale White has eaten his way off the team. With no running threat, Matt Leinart tries to pass USC to success only to be constantly blitzed and sacked and ends up injured during his senior season. The Cards draft Jay Cutler who combines with Fitzgerald and Bolden to form the deadliest passing attack west of the Mississippi since the Rams' Greatest Show on Turf. Kurt Warner signs with the Broncos and saves Shanahan's job in Denver, leading them to the Super Bowl where they lose to the Cutler-led Cards. Even though Leinart is available when the Vikings draft in round 2, Childress drafts Tavaris Jackson. Even in the alternate timeline, Brad Childress is still an idiot.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 11:30am

"I was hoping they had some sort of Time Machine where they could change the past."

Or one of these, much more reliable.


by Temo :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:41pm

Don't stop there. Now the Saints don't take Reggie Bush, and draft Vince Young instead of signing Drew Brees as a free agent, thus continuing the franchise's woes.

Or perhaps now that he doesn't have an "invincible" USC team to face in the Rose Bowl, Young is no longer overdrafted due to bowl game heroics.

The possibilities!

by are-tee :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 6:17pm

...and Kellen Clemens leads the Jets to victory in Super Bowl XLIV.

by >implying implications (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 1:24am

Pete Carroll was a like a rat fleeing a burning ship. I wonder what Seahawks fans feel like right now.

by coltrane23 :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 2:58pm

I was fine with getting rid of Mora, but I'm on record as not wanting him for Seattle primarily because he didn't impress me as a pro coach. But since the 'Hawks FO doesn't consult me for those decisions, I wish him oodles of success in Seattle now.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 2:34am

Yeah, what a coincidence. I wonder if Calipari is a friend on Petey's Facebook page.

by Big Johnson :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 2:43am

jesus h christ. so the story has it that lloyd lake and michael michaels (the blades of glory guy?) gave benefits to reggie bush and his family in hopes of signing "him as the premier client for their fledgling marketing company, New Era Sports & Entertainment". Neither lloyd lake or michael michaels have anything to do with USC. There must be a huge loop hole that comes out in the story tomorrow.

They have nothing to do with USC and to punish USC doesnt make any sense. Not only did they punish USC, but they are trying to take away a heisman and a championship bowl trophy, 2 postseasons, and scholarship funds for something that they didnt do. jesus h christ

by BWV 1129 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 3:33am

As though they didn't know what was going on. And if they *didn't* know what was going on with their star RB, in this day and age, they should have. They clearly had no institutional control whatsoever.

by Big Johnson :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 3:56am

take carlos dunlap last year for example. He got arrested for a DUI, underage drinking, and driving without a license. he was unable to play in the SEC championship game as a consequence. Meyer commented on how it was shocking to find out. Should florida get penalized because they "didnt" know what was going on with their defensive player, in this day and age? Florida clearly had no institutional control whatsoever.

It is absurd to penalize the team in this situation. USC did nothing wrong. The wrong actions were on lake and reggie. this is similar to the carlos dunlap dui because the wrong actions were on dunlap. Florida did nothing wrong.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 4:07am

That would be a great analogy if it weren't such a terrible analogy.

Carlos Dunlap's offense occurred on one evening. Reggie Bush's offense went on for a year or more. Carlos Dunlap's offense resulted in penalties (Dunlap was suspended for a game). Reggie Bush's offense had yet to result in any negative repercussions for either the player or the program. Carlos Dunlap's DUI was an isolated incident. Reggie Bush's offense occurred within a couple of years of another major star committing receiving major improper benefits.

The analogy would be much better if Carlos Dunlap was out getting wasted every single night of the year, and if Joaquim Noah had also had a problem with getting wasted every single night of the year, and if both coaches pleaded ignorance of the situation, and if neither player had ever faced any negative consequences for their actions.

Look, every major NCAA team has a compliance office. That department's sole job is making sure that the program isn't violating any NCAA rules. Obviously that department did a pretty crappy job. If you don't like the consequences handed down, then what consequences would you propose for the football team? Or would you rather just have Reggie Bush and USC commit a major rules violation with no consequences whatsoever?

by Big Johnson :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 4:51am

i see your point completely. most people that get DUI charges get caught on their first time getting wasted.

Odd that you say "both coaches pleaded ignorance of the situation" because thats exactly how Meyer played it off. And its also exactly how you are playing it off. Of course Dunlap didn't only get wasted that night, and it is retarded for you to suggest that.

Im not sure what major rule violation you are referring to. Every article ive read has not stated what the rule violation is, just that they violated it.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 5:53am

"most people that get DUI charges get caught on their first time getting wasted. "

Citation please

by tuluse :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 6:27am

I think you missed some sarcasm.

by Karma Coma :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 6:32am

You might want to give that whole comment another glance over, DW.

Edit: It's 3:30 AM on the left coast and someone responded to that comment seconds before i did? What are the odds...

by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:00am

Your right, I missed the sarcasm...I guess when sarcasm is part of a comment that includes "it is retarded for you to suggest that" I assume the commenter lacks the intelligence to carry off sarcasm. My apologies.

by Big Johnson :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:30pm

im glad i exceeded your expectations!

by Independent George :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 3:34pm

is potser druNK?

by Big Johnson :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 4:01pm

raider joe = independent George

by Sophandros :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 8:25am

A few things:

Lake tried to bribe Bush's family so that they would convince Bush to sign with Lake. Bush didn't sign with Lake, so Lake went public. So, if Bush HAD signed with Lake, this probably doesn't happen. Now, agents give college players gifts all the time to try to entice them to sign with them, so the fans of other schools who are reveling in this need to take a step back and drop their stones...

Taking away wins is toothless. The two year post season ban and reduction of scholarships does something, but it doesn't impact the guilty parties.

Finally, I'm curious to see how some media members use this to rationalize their downgrading of the Saints in their preseason rankings...

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by TV_Pete (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 9:03am

There are no NCAA rules against DUI. There are NCAA rules against getting paid. Hence, Florida suspended Dunlap for breaking team/school rules, but was not required by NCAA rules to punish Dunlap.

by BWV 1129 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:45pm

We'll see what the NCAA says, but there were reports that the RB coach knew what was going on with Reggie.

Also, the compliance department okayed Bush interning with Michaels & Lake. That's right -- they thought their star RB "interning" with wannabe sports agents was just fine, and obviously didn't find it useful to monitor the relationship.

The school was at best willfully ignorant and at worst complicit. This wasn't a situation where the coaches or administration tried to get in the way of the relationship. And it was a relationship they easily should have known about.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 3:59am

First off, the NCAA can't take away the Heisman. The Heisman is awarded by the Downtown Athletic Club and is unaffiliated with the NCAA. Second off, the NCAA can't take away a national championship. National championships are all awarded by third parties (such as the Bowl Championship Series or USA Today) and are unaffiliated with the NCAA, which has no formal champion. If the Downtown Athletic Club decides that they don't want to award their trophy to someone who received illegal benefits, that is their prerogative and the NCAA has no say in the matter. If the Bowl Championship Series decides that they do not want to award a championship to a team that started an ineligible player, that is their prerogative and the NCAA has no say in the matter.

Third off, USC's two biggest stars in their two biggest sports (Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo) were both playing despite the fact that they were receiving grossly improper benefits. I suppose USC can plead ignorance, but that still doesn't reflect particularly well on them. The NCAA is hitting them with a "lack of institutional control" charge, and this seems like a perfect example of an institution that lacks control over its players. USC has already admitted fault in the O.J. Mayo situation- is it really that much of a stretch to think that they could have handled the Reggie Bush situation differently, as well?

by Big Johnson :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 4:42am

they admitted fault in the oj mayo situation because they were at fault. they didnt admit fault in the bush one because they didnt do anything wrong.

firstly, yes heismans can be taken away and if bush doesnt cooperate his will get taken away. I saw it on tv so it has to be true.

secondly championships can be taken away. I saw it on tv so it has to be true.

bush was receiving benefits from people completely unaffiliated with USC. His parents receiving handouts from a businessman helped USC win 0 games on the field. Its absurd to think that something that helped them win 0 games and that was done by a player and a businessman not affiliated with USC would affect the school this much.

lastly, im beginning to think that the U.S. is out to get anyone with the last name Bush.

by Jimmy :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:52am

im beginning to think that the U.S. is out to get anyone with the last name Bush.

Yeah, because making two guys President is really sticking it to em.

by jimbohead :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 11:05am

Well, we're on president #44, somewhat less (around 40?) if we discount non-elected presidents. Four elected presidents have been assassinated (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, and JFK), two more died in office with suspicion of assassination (Taylor, Harding), and at least two more were shot non-fatally (Teddy Roosevelt, and Reagan). I'd say electing two bushes president IS sticking it to them.

Also, improve your sarcasm meter.

by Shalimar (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 11:16am

We're a fundamentalist christian country. Maybe if you stopped looking at non-marital Bush, you could get out of going to hell when you die.

by Sophandros :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 8:26am

Lake (not an employee or booster for USC) paid Bush's family to get him to LEAVE school, while Mayo received cash from a COACH AT USC to CHOOSE TO ATTEND USC.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 9:35am

If that becomes a useful loophole, guys who are "unaffiliated" with a schools will be paying players large truckloads of cash to "leave" schools all the time. Don't get me wrong; I think all these football programs should be paying players guy non-trivial sums of money. The idea, however, that a school shouldn't be penalized if one of their players is getting paid, as long as the guy giving the money can claim to be unaffiliated with the school, and he says he was paying the guy to leave school, just won't work.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:13am

It is the schools' job to monitor and prevent this sort of situation. And USC failed miserably at it. It doesn't make any difference if Lake is not affiliated with the school. Reggie Bush is, and he got paid while playing.

It is true that the NCAA is a hypocritical organization with silly and onerous rules. But if USC is unable or unwilling to follow those rules, then it should get out of NCAA supervised sports, or college sports altogether.

by Sophandros :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 11:34am

Reggie Bush's family in San Diego got paid while he was playing.

Should the school check out everyone's families? How far does this alleged responsibility extend? What if Bush were from Florida, and the house purchase happened there? Is USC supposed to be held responsible for that?

BTW, I'm of the belief that this and worse goes on at all "big time" programs. If Bush had signed with Lake after his parents took the bribe, then USC goes unpunished.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 11:56am

1) If this goes on at all big time programs (not a preposterous notion), then USC should be punished for being dumb enough to be caught.

2) "Compliance" is not easy. It's not fair. The NCAA doesn't care about fairness. If USC is unable or unwilling to go through NCAA's BS, the institution is perfectly within its rights to get out of the "amateur sports" business. Recruit people with smarter families who either won't accept money or won't get caught, if you must. If you recruit idiots from idiot families, prepare for the consequences when it comes up craps.

Is it fair or rational? No. But that's life.

by Sophandros :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:04pm

USC got "caught" because Bush didn't sign with the agent who bribed his family. I wouldn't call USC "dumb" in this case, because it's something that they have absolutely no control over, and it's unreasonable to assume that they can control what adults in another city do.

I agree that life isn't fair, but the NCAA claims to try to be.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:27pm

Again, as soon you establish the precedent that a school in USC's situation won't be punished, an entire industry will spring up where "unaffiliated" people pay large sums of money to players' families, supposedly to convince the player to leave school.

I'd simply prefer a requirement that the payroll to the coaching staff be matched with a payroll for the players. Of course, that would really result in sleepless nights for Urban Meyer!

by Sophandros :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 1:50pm

That industry already exists and will continue to do so. If anything, this HELPS agents who bribe players and their families.

Sports talk radio and sports message boards are the killing fields of intellectual discourse.

by 3.14159265 (not verified) :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 4:15am

I agree with you for the most part. I think colleges should get out of football. Turn their football programs into the minor leagues for the NFL. Never have any kind of problems like this again. If the player wants to also apply to the school in the town he wants to go to, then so be it, and if he gets in, he could go part time. A complete break should be made in the NCAA, namely drop the C.

Much Appropriate Captcha for my post: naiver he

by alexbond :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 3:09am

So who goes to the Rose Bowl now? Oregon - lost Masoli. USC - this. UW - shitty defense. Cal - Tedford always fails in the clutch. OSU - ????

by Whatev (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 3:18am

I guess if you're really desperate, you could ask Stanford.

by tuluse :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 3:30am

Hell yeah, lets go Jim Harbaugh

by Jeff M. (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 9:22am

I'd be interested in knowing how the BCS rules work if a conference champion has a post-season ban.

Does the second-place team in the Pac-10 automatically get the Rose Bowl bid? Does the Pac-10 even get an AQ team, or can they say "well, USC qualified for this spot but has to decline it due to the ban, so we're picking an SEC/Big-12 team to replace them"?

by ab (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:14am

That's the best question on this thread. Could someone answer it please?

by fek9wnr (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:24am

I am fairly sure that the Pac-10 bowl order for the next two seasons will be set as if USC didn't exist. In other words, if USC wins the conference, the second-place team will get an automatic BCS bid. At least that team will still be more deserving than the Big East champion.

by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 7:13am

Pete Carroll= sneaky jerk

by DavidL :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 8:24am

So are we still agreed that Reggie Bush should have gotten more compensation than he actually did, or is that only in the other thread?

by The Blow Leprechaun (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 9:18am

Personally, I think the only compensation Reggie Bush should ever get is a 2x4 to the face, but that's just me.

by Karma Coma :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 1:35pm

If that's his compensation plan, I hope his employer offers dental.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:00am

I fail to see how penalizing a bunch of kids who will play football in 2011 and 2012 for something that happened in 2005, to other players, and a different coach is going to fix anything.

If they'd caught him while he was there, fine, but Reggie Bush has been in the NFL 4 years.

by fek9wnr (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:22am

I agree that punishing these kids doesn't make sense. However, the deterrent effect of such sanctions is powerful. When schools know that sanctions like this are a possibility, they are likely to spend much more effort policing themselves.

To ameliorate this necessary unfairness, how about a rule allowing players at a school facing major sanctions to transfer to any other institution without sitting out a year? If Matt Barkley has his heart set on playing in a Rose Bowl, he could transfer to Oregon to take Masoli's place. Of course, the NCAA still adheres to the archaic notion that these guys are student-athletes, and that Barkley chose to attend USC due to their top-notch academics, so that won't happen.

by Brendan Scolari :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:53pm

"To ameliorate this necessary unfairness, how about a rule allowing players at a school facing major sanctions to transfer to any other institution without sitting out a year? Of course, the NCAA still adheres to the archaic notion that these guys are student-athletes, and that Barkley chose to attend USC due to their top-notch academics, so that won't happen."

Actually, I believe that juniors and seniors will be allowed to transfer without having to sit out a year. At least, that is what I've heard, but I can't find any official link to confirm it.

by loneweasel (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:28am

Who said the NCAA was interested in fixing anything? The purpose of the organization is to a) feel important; b) maintain the facade of "amateur" athletics. This sanction works beautifully on both counts.

And for the products on the football factory assembly line, losing two showcases isn't much of a loss. There will still be plenty of tape for the NFL to go over before the draft.

by DeltaWhiskey :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:01am

The school is being peanlized, the kids playing in 2011 and 2012 are collateral damage.

by Will :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 2:00pm

No kid who signed this past offseason should cry foul - they all knew something was coming, and committed anyway. I do think though that the NCAA should allow any student athlete at the affected program to be able to transfer without having to sit out a season.


by Spielman :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 2:19pm

Meaningless, meaningless, completely meaningless.

They get to keep the money they got from the bowls and the television, and this is just a minor blip for their profile, which was raised dramatically by the years of success they're supposedly being penalized for. It's a net gain for their recognition factor, and they're ahead financially.

Does anyone seriously think they care about anything else?

by Will :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 2:49pm

Tell Alabama how meaningless the loss of 20 scholarships is. It took them most of the decade to get back to their previous levels, and that took the best college coach in some time to accomplish.


by Sure (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 8:57pm

Meh. They had a swoon, just like a lot of schools have had with or without sanctions. They shell out for a big time recruiter who brings in a lot of talent quickly (too quickly, actually, since Saban plays a nice game where he overrecruits and then cuts guys and sends them to JC). Gather up enough talent and you'll be back on top.

by kleph :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:15pm

i take it the usc ruling makes it open season on gross misrepresentations to vilify successful programs? or would you like to back that nonsense up with some actual data?

by capt. Anonymous (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 2:33pm

I hate when success is punished. Punish the basketball team all you want. Those guys couldn't even figure out how to pay someone that would lead them to a final four.

by Rocco :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 3:18pm

I'm surprised the NCAA came down like it did. If USC screws up again in the near future, the NCAA really only has one option left for punishment.

by DavidL :: Sat, 06/12/2010 - 9:33am

Putting Charlie Weis in charge?

by Rocco :: Sat, 06/12/2010 - 11:16am

That may be a fate worse than the death penalty.

by Anonymous 3 (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 5:51pm

RE: All those who say they don't understand why the coaching staff can't control about 100 students athletes, let me tell you I was in charge of 26 with 4 senior sergeants and you have no idea what kids do. That's even with inspections, health & welfare checks, drug tests, and the threat of UCMJ.

That being said, if I didn't know anything about the case I would've thought the head coach of the football program had an agent pay a recruit to attend, not a basketball coach. The punishment falls disproportionately on the football program vs. The basketball and women's tennis program (yes, thre's some of that also). If anything, there statement USC will be punished despite self reporting and fully cooperating with the NCAA will only encourage other schools to lie or hide the truth. At worst, it encourages crooked agents to get worse since they don't have to worry about repercussions.

But, 30 scholarships over 3 years? That's a deathknell for the football program which had the lesser of the three infractions.

by Will :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 6:00pm

Citing USC for a lack of institutional control in its long-awaited report, the NCAA also put the entire athletic program on four years’ probation, took away a total of 30 football scholarships over three years and vacated every victory in which Bush participated in from December 2004 through the 2005 season.

Thirty scholarships!?!?!? That's huge - will set USC back 5 years at least, probably closer to six or seven.


by Sure (not verified) :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 8:59pm

Sort of. Instead of 25 new scholarships a year, they will be allowed 15, and instead of 85 total they will be allowed 75. A wise coach could spin this as a big chance at playing time, since there will be less scholarship depth.

by speedegg :: Thu, 06/10/2010 - 10:50pm

whoa. I just don't understand how the NCAA metes out punishment even after reading the report. Yes, USC committed infractions, but having been in the South and SoCal there's a BIG difference being in the middle of Georgia or Alabama to being in the middle of a major metropolitan city, much harder to police your students-athletes.

If they don't believe USC's story, then state it. Don't state even though USC self reported and fully cooperated with the investigation it doesn't mitigate the punishment. That's basically telling other schools to cover-up or lie about major violations.

Granted, the running backs coach lied to the school and NCAA investigators making the investigation harder, so he should be fired or at least suspended for a year (remember Dez Bryant)....which wasn't called for in the sanctions.

The parties involved (sports agent A & B, Bush, Bush's parents, Mayo, Mayo's parents, etc) make off with millions and what happens to them? It was Bush's father that contacted said agent, how do coaches stop that? I would think the NCAA should file a complaint or lawsuit against the agents, the marketing company, their teams, or the NFL and NBA....but they don't.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 1:34am

If it is true that USC approved Bush interning for Lake's firm, that is like an armored car driver "forgetting" to take the keys out of the truck's ignition, then "forgetting" to lock the truck, before going on a two hour lunch break, a week prior to purchasing a nice home in Malibu.

by Anonymous 2 (not verified) :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 2:26am

Friend of mine that played college football and went on several recruiting trips said ALL schools violate the NCAA rules. Walk on any campus long enough with a high powered football/basketball program and you'll find student athletes driving better cars and getting better privileges. He thought it was amazing the NCAA missed all the violations in front of his face.

NCAA shouldn't just punish one school, it should punish all schools. It shouldn't wait for reports to surface it should regularly inspect and audit all schools. If it only goes after what's reported, then it contributes to the "If you got caught, you weren't cheating hard enough" mentality.

by Eddo :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 9:27am

And just how do you propose they go about such a process, logistically? Think of how much money they'd have to spend on labor to proactively investigate every school.

by speedegg :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 1:58pm

I'm sure a few million from the TV revenue would pay for all those inspectors. It would be like an accounting firm going through the books of companies every year for tax time.

by tuluse :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 3:51pm

It would be more like the IRS auditing every single corporation.

by justanothersteve :: Fri, 06/11/2010 - 3:19pm

First the Raiders and Rams. Now this. How long until Los Angeles gets another pro football team?