It appears that a near-death (and Hollywood-ized) Doc Holliday had far more self awareness than those in the college football world. It’s no newsflash that the system is broken. I mean, do you know anyone not wholly invested in the bowl system who does not want a playoff? Who thinks it’s a good idea to have a bunch of coffee-and-donut-slamming writers decide who the best team is (and again, I’m not judging. I’m just saying.)?
“IT APPEARS (OUR) HYPOCRISY KNOWS NO BOUNDS.”
And now, the Pac 10’s favorite villain (and, by no small coincidence, by far its most dominant program for the bulk of its history) has apparently been slapped with significant sanctions in connection with recruiting violations involving Reggie Bush, among others. The Trojans will be out of postseason play for two years, losing major television dollars and recruiting showcase opportunities. This will matter now that USC will now be competing in the same conference with national powerhouses Oklahoma and Texas. They lose 20 scholarships. So much for all that depth and competition for which Trojan practices are now legendary. I suspect Pete Carroll suspected, and that Lane Kiffin really did not. Or his ego really is that impressive. (I know. I’m 50-50 on that one, too.)
As a UCLA alum and lifelong Bruin fan, I know I’m supposed to be jovial this morning, but I’m not. Not at all. The bottom line is that I’m a football fan, and this is bad for the Pac 10 and bad for college football. Much like with the Raiders and Cowboys in the NFL, college football and especially the Pac are infinitely healthier and more exciting when the Trojans are strong.
But more to the point for me, the punishment and the system by which it was levied is a total farce. The coach most responsible for the violations involved is rolling around in money he obtained as a result, at least partially, of those violations. Reggie Bush, whose Heisman appears in jeopardy, is in New Orleans earning millions (which he would’ve done with or without whatever benefits he got in exchange for his decision to attend one of the traditional powerhouses of college football). The violations are years in the past. Nevertheless, the NCAA’s punishment will drop the hammer on USC’s current student athletes, and those high school athletes considering the Trojans.
What possible sense does this make? If you want to punish the school, punish the school. Moreover, the NCAA is responsible for the circumstances that lead to these kinds of violations! You’ve already long since decided that major college football is a money game first, foremost, and damn near exclusively. USC benefits from that arrangement as much as any school in the country. FINE THEM. The sanctions handed down today make as much sense as witnessing your oldest child steal from the cookie jar, then grounding the middle one and sending the youngest one to her room as punishment while the oldest chows down on Chips Ahoy in the treehouse out back. It’s absurd.
Somewhere on the dusty, faded summer grass of a Southern California high school football field, there is a kid whose parents can’t afford to send him to college. A kid who has grown up watching the Trojans and dreaming of putting on the Cardinal and Gold and running out of that tunnel into the explosion of sound that greets the gladiator as he enters the hallowed grounds of a filled-to-capacity Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He’s spent the last four years in two-a-days, running sprints, lifting weights, going to boring classes and getting decent grades, all so he might have this chance. As it turns out, there is not just one of this kid. There are hundreds, probably thousands of him. And somewhere, from some office in Indianapolis, Indiana, a group of mostly old men just took 20 of those chances away. I wish I were surprised. “It’s always the same, it’s just a shame, and that’s all.”
UPDATE Thurs, 1:37 pm PAC 10 Time: So apparently it’s 30 scholarships. Awesome.