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USC Losing Leverage, Gaining Humility

There were three events that occurred over the past two days that signified a change for USC’s football program. Things first started when coach Pete Carroll left for Seattle, leaving a gaping hole at the head of the program. Carroll was replaced by Lane Kiffin who departed Tennessee for So Cal to help calm the uproar amongst Trojan fans. While Kiffin and the USC program believed they would not be impacted by the NCAA investigation regarding their recruiting violations, it turned out they were wrong; the program got docked 30 scholarships over three years and two years of bowl games. Three key events have taken place since that indicate USC has lost its leverage and gained humility.

First, Minnesota-based offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson was released from his letter of intent. The nation’s top offensive lineman recruit felt deceived by the Trojans coaching staff regarding the potential sanctions. Seantrel did not show up for summer school leading USC coaches to fly out to meet with him in Minneapolis on two occasions. As we initially reported at LBS, USC did not want to release him from his commitment, but the negative press and potential future backlash made the Trojans coaches realize it was a smart business move to release Henderson.

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Source: USC Does Not Want to Release Seantrel Henderson from Letter of Intent

USC was slapped with penalties from the NCAA Infractions Committee three weeks ago. The penalties were deemed the harshest since SMU got the infamous “death penalty.” USC was stripped of 30 scholarships over three years, postseason appearances the next two seasons, and they’re on probation the next four years. Because of the penalties, juniors and seniors are allowed to transfer without having to sit out a year. That doesn’t do a whole lot of good for the incoming freshmen like Seantrel Henderson whose careers with the Trojans will begin under a dark cloud.

Henderson has been listed as one of the top two recruits for the 2010 class by various services. After a prolonged recruitment period, he announced he would attend USC on Signing Day, but he never signed his Letter of Intent. Henderson wanted to be sure that USC would not be penalized harshly by the NCAA before deciding to spend his next four years in southern California. Apparently whatever the USC people told him sounded good, because Henderson ultimately signed with the Trojans in late March. But ever since the punishments were handed down, Seantrel has been upset.

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