With the resignation of Tim Floyd it is pretty easy to say that the basketball program is going to be hammered. Did Tim Floyd actually hand out money to an associate of OJ Mayo in return for helping him choose USC?
That one sounds pretty far fetched to me even though Floyd resigned. It isn't like this is Tim Floyd's first rodeo. We have heard of teams for years using money to entice recruits but rarely does a coach ever touch that money directly as Floyd has been accused of. We haven't exactly heard Floyd's side of the story, but there wasn't an outright denial and now we have the resignation. Talk about a little smoke on the water.
What exactly does hammering mean these days for a college basketball program? Probably the loss of four scholarships for 2-3 years, a post season ban for at least a couple, and the loss of the always important TV money over a designated period of time.
Where does that leave the football program?
What the NCAA has been looking for is a direct link between either boosters, or Pete Carroll's staff in the matter of payments made to Reggie Bush and his family by sports agents. It seems the NCAA is headed for the "Lack of Institutional Control" model directed at the entire athletic department to wrap this one up.
I happen to think that the USC football program is pretty clean but there was obviously a lack of oversight as far as Bush situation goes. I also think the same thing would have happened if he had gone to Washington or Florida State. The one thing though that hurts USC is the amount of access during that period of time that agents and supposed agents had to the football team while on University property.
I think the NCAA would be hard pressed to nail USC just on the Bush incident alone. I do think that if you wrap that up with what has gone on with the basketball program and charge the athletic department with the responsibility rather than individual units of the sports program you have a good case for sanctions that would be hard to beat in court.
That really is the NCAA's quandary these days and that is getting charges and penalties to stand up in court. Gone are the days when a school like Washington would take the allegations sitting down, say I am sorry, and then turn over even more evidence to further incriminate themselves.
Since Reggie Bush and his parents were being paid by agents it probably means the NCAA will first will look into forfeits for the games he actually played in. That could also mean that they would have to forfeit the right to the championships they won while he was actually being paid illegally. He may even have to give up his Heisman Trophy. This all falls under the water under the bridge category. It deals with an unfair advantage in the past and it represents more of a black eye for the history of the program more than anything else.
As far as the future goes the newspapers in LA are talking about a possible bowl ban, loss of scholarships, and the loss of TV money. Here is where it gets tricky. USC is a big money maker for the Pac 10 conference so if they had a TV ban it would also hurt the other members of the conference. What they could possibly try to do is allow USC to play on TV but penalize them a certain amount of money from those appearances.
A two year bowl ban for USC would hurt the conference as a whole. It however would result in the leap frog effect of other conference members moving up a notch and taking their places in bowl games. It would of course hurt USC in recruiting as much as it hurt the UW in the 1990's.
What do I think is going to happen here?
- I think USC will forfeit past games, national championships, and Bush's Heisman Trophy could be at risk.
- I think the football program might get a one year bowl ban.This one is a little iffy and it depends on how they want to work with the TV money. Remember the deal the conference made with Washington? Perhaps the NCAA will work out something that is similar.
- I think there will be a temporary reduction in scholarships for the football team.
- I think there will be a loss of TV money for the football program even though they will allow the football team to play on TV.
- The basketball team is going to get hammered and lose as many as four scholarships.
- The basketball team will get a two year ban from the post season.
- The basketball team will get blacked out on television for at least a year.
- The basketball teams share of NCAA tournament money could be in question for a year or two.
- The USC Athletic Department as a whole will be hit with a five year probation for "Lack of Institutional Control" which means if they get caught doing anything else wrong they will be hammered even harder. The penalties for the football team will end in two years and the basketball team in three.
What does that mean for USC?
If this all goes down it probably means Pete Carroll will be coaching in an NFL stadium in 2010 which is a real shame. I think Pete has run a pretty clean program and the Bush situation for the most part was out of his control. You could also say that about Don James in the early 1990's in relation to Billy Joe Hobert.
You could also say in retrospect that you should notice and question when your QB shows up with a new souped up Camaro in the Montlake parking lot. You can make the same case with Bush's family because obviously the USC community had to know that something funny was going on. It wasn't like they just cashed a lottery ticket.
Historically I would rank Carroll among the very best who have ever coached in the conference. I think that his tenure at USC has been positive for everyone even though the Trojans have won the title almost every single year while he has been here. Pete has made a positive impact in almost every single life he has touched. I think it would be a tragedy for USC and the conference as a whole if he moved on.
That all being said the NCAA has to prove that they still have teeth. Everyone in the sports world is watching them on this one. They can't afford to make mistakes and just slapping USC's hands would send the wrong signal. I think the OJ Mayo incident and the allegation of a head coach being directly involved in passing money is the straw that breaks the USC Athletic Department's back.
What it could mean for Washington and other Pac 10 members
Some of you may remember that five Pac Ten teams including USC were put on probation in the mid 1970's during DJ's tenure at Washington. It had to do with bogus credits being issued by a diploma mill associated with a small school in Montana that coaches were using to keep players eligible. The players paid their money and received the credits but were not taking classes.
Washington wasn't one of those five teams and while they didn't slide into a Rose Bowl because of it they still were able to benefit in the recruiting front for a few years. It gave UW the time and leverage it needed to build a conference power and continue to dominate the Pacific Northwest.
Any penalty against the USC football program is going to help level out the talent level in the conference over the next five years. UW is in a great place right now to take advantage of that especially with the recruiting contacts the new coaching staff has in place in Southern California.
Just like the mid 1970's this just could be part of the tonic which helps rebuild the UW into a football powerhouse.
Just like the early 1990's for Washington a USC probation could cost the Trojans a legendary coach who feels his program has been unfairly treated. The fall out from that was a slow decline that only started to go on the upswing when Coach Sarkisian was hired.
Just like Don James I don't feel that Pete Carroll has done anything wrong.
Just like Don James I think there is a chance that a firestorm out of his control could end Pete Carroll's coaching tenure at USC.
To me that would be a shame.