Infractions Committee Too Harsh on Punishment And Appeal Never Had a Chance of Overturning Sanctions
The main purpose of NCAA sanctions is to penalize schools that gained an unfair advantage in obtaining players by offering them incentives to go to that institution.
And in no case did USC, under Pete Carroll, offer Reggie Bush any money, cars or anything else to become a Trojan. He was not given any incentive to attend USC, other than to play for an enthusiastic coach, a traditional program and the chance to win championships.
The problems came after Bush was already on the field. Only one player was involved, not multiple people and certainly not the entire team. (If the NCAA really wants to nail a big-time program, it should set up shop in Columbus, where the lid is about to blow off on what benefits Ohio State football players have received under Jim Tressell.)
To hammer USC with a loss of a whopping 30 scholarships during a three-year period and two seasons of no bowl appearances is flat-out unfair. Unjust. The crime hardly fit the punishment. Why not ban Traveler from running up the sidelines during the game, not letting the band play Tusk or making the Song Girls trade in their pleated skirts for warm-up pants (of please NO!!!)? It’s all a punch to the gut.
The Trojans have also just lost their appeal, but that had less of a chance of succeeding than Lane Kiffin being welcomed back to Rocky Top as a savior. That would require the NCAA to admit it was wrong, and that was never going to happen.
USC is hardly innocent. Every news outlet that covered the Trojans at the time reported on Bush and his family’s situation. All the school did was plug up the earholes in the helmets.
Carroll himself could have settled the matter right then and there by sitting Bush. It would hardly have mattered anyway; the Trojans were so overwhelming in 2004 and 2005 they pretty much crushed everything that got in their way, including Oklahoma 55-19 in the ’04 BSC Championship. Sideline Sam was in the Orange Bowl for that game and things got so bad for the Sooners that even the band left after the third quarter. Only Texas and Vince Young stopped the bleeding for the rest of college football in the 2005 BSC title game (and Bush was on the bench for the critical offensive play and might should have been on the field to try and run down Young at the end).
Now, the NCAA is considering wiping the Orange Bowl win off its record books. For one, Oklahoma fans would certainly welcome it. But it’s a token move and a silly one, too. Also asking USC to remove all references to Reggie Bush and his on-field achievements is equally flawed. You can’t re-write history, yet that is what the NCAA is try to accomplish with this “vacating” policy.
The Trojans certainly deserve to be on probation for taking an arrogant attitude toward the Bush rumors (which they were at the time) and practically daring the NCAA to come and get them. It took a while – five years, in fact – but the NCAA did indeed come and get them.
A more suitable probation would be pretty much along the lines of what the USC proposed for itself, a one-year bowl ban and losing five scholarships per year. Plus, watching the moves of the new coach like a hawk, especially considering Kiffin must sit in front of the NCAA for several secondary violations during his one-year disaster at Tennessee.
At least now the Trojans know what is not behind them, but in front of them, and their fans will hold up two fingers and shout “Fight On” this fall. But the “Conquest” in this case is not the USC song, but the satisfying tune the NCAA is humming in Indianapolis. And now let’s see if they will be singing “Another One Bites the Dust” with Ohio State instead of, say “Pretty Young Thing.”