Off-topic self-promotion: I have a new post up at Bugs & Cranks too.

USC has been to a BCS bowl every season since 2002. Since then, the Trojans have inflicted their wrath on the entire college football nation, with their annoying bandwagon fans and every game and player being overhyped.

They must be stopped. It’s all up to the Bruins on Saturday.

Oregon State’s loss to Oregon on Saturday means that a USC win on Saturday and they’re going to the Rose Bowl. Again. If UCLA pulls off the upset, a BCS berth would be unlikely, and USC will most likely be stuck with the Holiday Bowl.

Are the Bruins huge underdogs? Yes. They’re 31-point underdogs right now. But they have a chance.

This may sound ridiculous, but the upset can happen. UCLA’s defense has looked good lately, and they only allowed six points to Arizona State on Friday. I know the offense allowed four defensive touchdowns, but look at it this way — that’s almost never happened before in NCAA history. The odds of them being that bad again and lightning striking twice are slim. The defense has a chance to stop USC. It’s up to Kevin Craft not to throw interceptions and the offense not to completely give away the game.

While unlikely, I can see UCLA winning a game by a score like 9-6 or 10-7. I can’t see UCLA winning 31-28 or something like that.

It’s not over until it’s over. You’ve gotta believe. Yes we can!

USC would be almost respectable if they were running a clean program over there, but they’re not. Bruins Nation has a handy list of all of the scandals at USC over the last few years (you’d be surprised at how many you’ve either forgotten about or didn’t hear about).

It’s up to the Bruins to stop USC. It’ll be tough, but it can happen.

As Noah already pointed out in the comments, ESPN came out with a report today showing O.J. Mayo received cash and gifts while he was at USC, which is obviously against NCAA rules about amateurism.

From ESPN.com:

Louis Johnson, who was a part of Mayo’s inner circle until recently, said Mayo accepted around $30,000 in cash and gifts during the past four years from Rodney Guillory, a 43-year-old Los Angeles event promoter. In addition to cash, the gifts included a flat-screen television for Mayo’s dorm room, cell phone service, a hotel room, clothes, meals and airline tickets for Mayo’s friends and a relative, according to Johnson, others with knowledge of the gifts and store receipts.

And what could be the most important part of the story:

Johnson provided “Outside the Lines” with receipts and invoices for many of the purchases, including the cell phone service.

They have proof. USC either knowingly or unknowingly broke the rules by playing someone who wasn’t an amateur.

With USC having two star players in recent years receive cash and gifts while they were at USC (O.J. Mayo and Reggie Bush), isn’t that by definition a lack of institutional control? One of the following has to be true:

1) USC was involved and knew their players were receiving all of the cash and breaking NCAA rules, or
2) USC wasn’t active enough to have any idea what was going on with their players, and didn’t learn from the Reggie Bush scandal.

Both are very bad, and as ESPN’s Pat Forde points out, should be grounds for the death penalty-type penalty that SMU famously received (ellipsis mine):

In a just world, USC basketball would have something in common with SMU football in the near future.

The death penalty.

You can plead ignorance once — and even that was almost impossible to believe, in the case of Bush. Plead it twice? Um, no. USC should be crushed by the NCAA, the Pacific-10 and its own administration.

Forde has it right. It probably won’t happen, but USC deserves major punishment for not having control of its program while players are breaking major NCAA rules.

The Mayo and Bush scandals aren’t even the only times USC has broken the rules in recent years — East Coast Bias has more, and Bruins Nation has had a long list somewhere I can’t seem to find. (UPDATE: Menelaus posted the link in the comments.) And even not including the money O.J. Mayo got, WILLisms.com figured out that the money Reggie Bush got was worse than what the SMU players got, even when adjusted for inflation.

It looks more and more like the problem at USC is truly a lack of institutional control.

This case just got more interesting. As Yahoo! Sports is reporting, a judge denied a request by Reggie Bush’s attorney for a gag order in the lawsuit against him filed by Lloyd Lake.

Why is this important?

As Bruins Nation pointed out, this means the NCAA will have access to this case’s testimony and evidence for their investigation into Reggie Bush allegedly receiving cash and other goods from Lake while Bush was still playing at USC. Which, if true (and if you look at the evidence that’s been reported by Yahoo! and in the book Tarnished Heisman, it’s hard to believe it isn’t), then Bush broke the rules. The only issue is how much USC knew or was involved, and what the penalties would be from the NCAA.

Another newsworthy item that came out was the possibility of Pete Carroll having to testify.

(Lake’s attorney Brian Watkins) said he expects to call 20 witnesses if the trial goes forward, and he said that USC head coach Pete Carroll and assistant coach Todd McNair would be among those subpoenaed as witnesses.

Also, the trial date was set for March 13 — yes, of next year. It will be a long wait.

 

To: Adam Rose and the LA Times

I just read your announcement that the UCLA and USC blogs are merging, and that Adam Rose, who blogs about USC at All Things Trojan, will now be blogging about UCLA for the Times as well.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tim Floyd can’t be stupid enough to call Indiana athletic director Rick Greenspan (who just so happens to be conducting a coaching search there) and leave his USC voicemail number, can he?

I’d guess this is a fake. But it’s a good one — it does sound exactly like Floyd.

UPDATE: The LA Times USC blogger says that an Indiana spokesman isn’t aware of a Stephanie at Indiana (who, if the video is real, Floyd left a message with). Well, there is one, and she is the director of basketball operations (click for bio). Yes, she works with women’s basketball, not men’s, but there is a Stephanie in the athletic department.

(Hat-tips to Bruins Nation, BruinZone and Barstool Sports.)

tarnishedheisman.jpgReggie Bush didn’t show up to his scheduled deposition on Monday. Instead, his attorneys filed a motion that his testimony be concealed from the NCAA and the media.

Got something to hide, Reggie?

I’m no law expert, I have no idea whether this is valid or not. But as an average joe, it seems that Bush is hiding something, like, I don’t know, maybe he did take money from Lloyd Lake while he was still at USC? Maybe he cheated and should return his Heisman? Maybe USC should have to forfeit some games?

Bush’s lawyer, David Cornwell (who is also a legal analyst for ESPN) declined to comment to the AP.

Here’s what Lloyd Lake’s lawyer had to say:

“It’s so that we can’t share the transcripts with the NCAA, which is a huge admission of guilt,” said Lake’s attorney, Brian Watkins. “Reggie Bush has repeatedly said that he has nothing to hide, and now that he has to testify under oath, he’s saying he doesn’t want what he says shared with the NCAA. Now all of the sudden it’s ‘Hey I’m going to have to admit to some things and I don’t want them out there.’

If you remember, the last time there was news in this case, Reggie Bush’s lawyers brought an armed observer to the deposition of Lake. Reggie isn’t exactly winning the PR battle.

(Hat-tip to Bruins Nation.)

UCLA beats USC

February 18, 2008

aboyasteal.jpg

Despite not having a great shooting night, UCLA beat USC 56-46 by doing what it does best — playing great defense and rebounding.

UCLA’s defense held O.J. Mayo to four points and forced him to commit 10 turnovers (USC had 22 turnovers as a team, compared to UCLA’s 9). UCLA had 19 offensive rebounds compared to USC’s 5, and 13 steals to USC’s 3. That’s how UCLA was able to win making only 34% of their shots.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute’s return definitely helped the team. Darren Collison returned to his normal self and played great on both sides of the ball.

It’s good to see that UCLA is back on the right track after the Washington loss and with only three weeks left in the Pac-10 season.

Also, Telemachus at Bruins Nation uploaded some video highlights of the game. Check them out.

First let me clarify one thing — I don’t think any college basketball player should ever be suspended for receiving free tickets to an NBA game. I think the NCAA is too strict on what student-athletes can get as it is, and basketball tickets to one game isn’t that big of a deal.

So I don’t think O.J. Mayo should have been suspended for six games for taking tickets from Carmelo Anthony.

The NCAA did think so, however. At least until Tim Floyd told them it was his fault, then they changed their mind. From the LA Times:

USC Coach Tim Floyd’s admission of complicity in the acceptance of free Lakers tickets by O.J. Mayo appears to have spared the freshman guard a suspension of at least six games, according to information released by the NCAA on Saturday.

That bothers me, because I can’t find any report saying Tim Floyd was punished or reprimanded.

If the NCAA thought taking the tickets was a big enough deal to suspend a player for six games (over 20% of the season), then surely, a coach telling the player it’s OK is also a big deal, right? Why wasn’t Tim Floyd fined or suspended?

This sets up a dangerous precedent for the NCAA — it’s acceptable for college athletes to take free gifts, as long as their coaches sign off on it first, whether it’s against the rules or not. There’s also the possibility that coaches can just say afterwards they allowed it, whether the player checked with them or not.

Floyd issued contradictory statements about his involvement, at first saying he had no idea how Mayo obtained the tickets and then saying he had cleared Mayo to take the tickets from Anthony since the players were longtime friends.

It sounds like Floyd may have avoided a suspension to his star player by putting the blame on himself, even if it wasn’t warranted. A dangerous precedent indeed.

(Hat-tip to Bruins Nation.)

With today’s release of the book Tarnished Heisman, you would think the NCAA would be very concerned with the prospects of Reggie Bush being paid while at USC and the potential of the athletic department knowing about it, which would be an extremely serious violation.

But no. Instead, the NCAA seems to be far more concerned that UCLA recruits don’t get to meet John Wooden, probably the greatest mind in sports history. In that article I linked to, Bill Dwyre reports that a letter of inquiry was sent by the NCAA to UCLA wondering about a possible illegal contact between then-recruit Kevin Love and someone representing the interests of the university (Wooden).

Wow. Of course, this isn’t against the rules because Wooden is still a paid employee by UCLA, as Bill Dwyre pointed out in the same story. So nothing bad will happen to UCLA because of this. The scary thing is, what if UCLA was no longer paying Wooden? Dwyre says it better than me:

But let’s say he had no official status with UCLA, other than being its greatest living example of humanity. Then the NCAA could have agreed that he was a person illegally representing the interests of the school in the recruitment of Love and actually penalize the Bruins.

Think about this.

Even though we know better every time we read about big bowl money and the latest zillion-dollar TV network basketball tournament contract, does not the NCAA purport to exist for the betterment of the educational experience? What better educational opportunity anywhere than to meet and talk to John Wooden?

Gotta love the NCAA. Talking to a living legend is bad. Taking thousands of dollars and getting endorsement deals and agents while you’re still a college player is OK, apparently.

(Major hat-tip to Bruins Nation.)

Ever wonder why the Reggie Bush investigation seems to be overlooked by ESPN even though it is being covered by other major media outlets?

Well, as The Big Lead points out, David Cornwell, Bush’s attorney, is also a legal consultant for ESPN. If that’s not a major conflict of interest, I don’t know what is. I’m not saying that ESPN is purposefully downplaying the Bush story because of this, but just the appearance that it could be happening is really bad for journalism reasons.

Let’s see how this plays out after the Tarnished Heisman book is released on Tuesday. I plan to buy it that day and hope to have a review of it sometime next week.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.