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More smoke coming from USC

If finishing the year 8-4 and having to settle for the Emerald Bowl this season was not bad enough the Trojans seem to have another scandal on their hands involving one of their key players.

TB Joe McKnight will not leave with the team to begin preparations for the upcoming bowl game with Boston College. According to Pete Carroll he is staying in town to finish some paperwork related to the Land Rover SUV he has been driving around town.

The SUV in question is owned by his girl friends employer who says he purchased the vehicle for her personal use. He also goes on to say that she makes the payments and pays for the insurance. Scott Schenter who is a UW grad living in the LA area says the girl is a long time friend of the family and employee. He arranged the purchase of the car for her because she and her family didn't have the credit to pull it off.

Three other USC players are now ineligible for the game because of academics. Tight end Anthony McCoy and tackle Tyron Smith, both starters, and defensive end Averell Spicer, a key reserve, will not play in the Emerald Bowl.

The tradition of USC stars driving around in fancy cars without the means to pay for it goes back to the a long time. OJ Simpson had a set of hot wheels when he was at USC that every student knew he could not afford. Somehow there is always a rational explanation and the player moves on to the NFL without much problem or any NCAA problems resulting for the football team.

This time it may be different since the NCAA has already been investigating the school over the Reggie Bush incident for a couple years and the basketball team fell under scrutiny last season for OJ Mayo's "people" receiving payments from the now fired head coach.

If you add up all the pieces it is really hard to buy Pete Carroll's explanation that Los Angeles is simply a big city and it is too hard to keep tabs of 85 players at all times. I have nothing against Carroll, his program, or the school, but where there is this much smoke there has to be considerable fire.

The LA Times seems to have finally taken some interest in how the USC program is being run and as Husky fans know once they get involved in an investigation it can get pretty ugly. The sports writing staff gives their take today but you can bet the investigative journalism side of the paper is now firing up tis engines too.

Bill Plaschke of the LA Times says the Trojans are playing with fire:

More smoke here, strange smoke, scary smoke, stupid smoke, adding to a cloud that ensures the NCAA will keep looking for that illegal burn.

Bill Dwyre of the LA Times write about the hypocrisy of college athletics.

Colleges try to create the image of student-athletes being taught teamwork, fair play and sportsmanship by fair-minded coaches, but the reality is much different.