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Sideline Violation Keeps USC from Covering Against Utah (UPDATE)

UPDATE: The play in question was reviewed after the game and USC was given the touchdown. The final score was changed to 23-14 as it should have been. The penalty applied to the bench for committing unsportsmanlike conduct, making it a dead ball foul, so the penalty is assessed after the play is over.

UPDATE II: Some sportsbooks will not adjust payouts to reflect the new 23-14 final. From Todd Fuhrman at Ceasars: We do not recognize defaults prior to the start of the event, suspended games, protests, or overturned decisions for wagering purposes.

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USC was lucky to escape with a 17-14 win at home over Utah Saturday night. Folks who put some money on the Trojans weren’t as fortunate.

USC blocked a 41-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game to preserve the win. Torin Harris picked up the loose ball and ran it in for a score that would have made it 23-14. The only problem was half the team ran onto the field in celebration, resulting in a penalty flag.

The Trojans were hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for committing a sideline violation. The referee’s call was “unsportsmanlike conduct on the USC bench. By rule, we’ll decline that penalty. The game is over.”

The game ended with the score 17-14. The Trojans opened as a 10-point favorite in the game and the line closed at 7.5 or 8 most places. For most people, had the blocked field goal returned for a score counted, they would have covered or at least pushed. Sorry sports bettors, no dice on that one.

But that wasn’t the only controversial aspect of the ending. Prior to the field goal attempt, Utah got a poor spot on a 4th and 10 pass. Their pass went to the 38 but was initially spotted around the 40. After a review, the referees spotted the ball at the 39 (still a bad spot), and gave them a first down. They threw one more pass before attempting the field goal. Here’s a look at the terrible spot:

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Lane Kiffin Coaches USC Like They’re the ’04 Trojans

USC football has a problem on its hands and the head coach needs to recognize it. As stated in the title, Lane Kiffin coaches his current team as if they’re the 2004 squad. That team went 13-0, blistered Oklahoma 55-19 in the Orange Bowl, and outclassed many of its opponents. They had the sixth-highest scoring offense in college football and third-best scoring defense. They were loaded with future pros. Lane Kiffin coaches his current Trojans team as if they’re that loaded, but they’re not.

USC squeaked by Minnesota 19-17 in its home opener Saturday. A win is a win so I won’t take that away from them, but let’s be real: the Pete Carroll golden age teams would have plastered Minnesota by at least 30 points. That’s what Kiffin is used to with the Trojans, so he coached them accordingly.

Kiffin went for two following his first two touchdowns. Both failed. He went for it on 4th and 6 at the Minnesota 35 in the 3rd quarter and a disastrous fumble ensued. Granted, they were in a tricky territory where going for it makes sense, but the play-calling was strange.

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Marc Tyler Suspended for GIWS

USC has suspended running back Marc Tyler from team activities, the season opener against Minnesota, and possibly more, for the latest in a series of alcohol-related incidents. Tyler made the mistake of giving an interview while sloshed last week, and now he’s paying the price.

In the interview caught on camera outside a night club, an obviously plastered Tyler talked about USC players nailing Kim Kardashian and getting paid. I didn’t post the interview here because I thought it was somewhat unfair — the kid was just hammered outside a club, so his words didn’t mean too much to me. I also thought he was put in a bad spot by the interviewer. Nevertheless he should be held responsible for what he says, and it’s his fault he got drunk and lost his judgment.

It’s important to keep in mind that this is the third alcohol-related incident for Tyler, so his suspension is more the product of being drunk on camera and saying stupid things than it is about what he actually said in the interview. Tyler was already in trouble for spitting on another student while he was drunk, and he was investigated for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman at a bar. You can essentially call this a final straw for Tyler.

Also, new AD Pat Haden is in charge, and he doesn’t mess around. Between Tyler, Dillon Baxter, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, and O.J. Simpson, USC running backs are carving out a new legacy, and it’s not a flattering one.

Brandon Hancock: Reggie Bush Wasn’t Only Player Taking Extra Benefits

The BCS stripped USC of its 2004 national title Monday, a move that came as no surprise. This is after Reggie Bush gave back his Heisman Trophy, so it’s not as if this practice is something new at Heritage Hall. I support amateurism and the ideals of the NCAA, though I recognize how laughable, embarrassing, and inconsistent their practices may be. Besides, what’s most important is that for all the trophies that get taken away, nobody will ever rid us of the memories and footage of USC dominating college football that year. Additionally, former USC fullback Brandon Hancock made another point that is worth mentioning.

Asked during an interview on 710 ESPN Radio in Los Angeles if the USC players are mad at Reggie Bush for putting the program in this situation, Hancock said no. Though he admitted he’s biased because he’s close friends with Reggie, he challenged the honesty of several other players. “If you can prove that there wasn’t one other player on the [Oklahoma] team that’s never got an extra benefit, then I could understand what you’re talking about. On the grand scale, Reggie wasn’t the only guy who violated the bylaws with the extra benefits.”

“It’s 100% fact that if you want to do your due diligence, you would find something … infractions were certainly committed, no doubt in my mind about that,” Hancock said. “If you want to cast a stone, it goes both ways here. … The better team won that day. Whether rules are broken are not, football is played between the lines.”

Hancock is right that the extra benefits really don’t have much to do with the game, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be stripped of their BCS title. USC’s star player was caught taking benefits on a grand scale, making him ineligible. There’s nothing wrong with stripping them to send the message that breaking rules is not acceptable. But it is fair to ask the NCAA to be consistent with their punishments, it is fair to say that USC was the best team that year, and it probably is fair to figure that most programs are violating some sort of NCAA rules. We even had one of the best coaches of all time admit just as much. You don’t have to approve of Reggie Bush violating rules, but it should be acknowledged he wasn’t the only one (on either side).

The UCLA-USC Football Rivalry for the Victory Bell … in Poetry Form

Here’s to you, Terry Donahue. We interrupt this USC rules violation to bring you a football game. While the University of Statutory Cheating squares off against a football team Undergoing Currently Languid Athleticism, collegial loyalties are split down the line in Los Angeles. Cardinal and gold, powder blue and gold. East LA and Westwood. Agents and houses, handicapped parking permits. For over a decade, UCLA has had its Victory Bell rung by the school from across town. To prepare you for this weekend’s matchup between UCLA and USC, here is an ode to the crosstown showdown, that would make Bill Shakespeare frown…

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USC Players Pictured at a Teague Egan 1st Round Entertainment Group Party

Highly-touted freshman running back Dillon Baxter found himself in trouble with USC once again last week. Baxter did not travel with the team to Oregon State after it was discovered he accepted a golf cart ride across campus from Teague Egan, a certified agent. Egan also happens to be a USC student, so the image of Van Wilder tooling around in his sled must be percolating through your mind.

Ordinarily we wouldn’t give a second thought to this non-incident, but the mini-violation brought Egan’s 1st Round Entertainment group to prominence. USC site Conquest Chronicles did some digging and found pictures of a 1st Round party where several current and former Trojans football players were in attendance, as site contributor Black Jack shared with us.


(from L-R) Chris Galippo, Everson Griffen, Jordan Campbell

In pictures from the group’s facebook page, you can see the likes of current players Chris Galippo, C.J. Gable, Daniel Harper, Jordan Campbell, Ryan McMahon, Malcolm Smith, and Shareece Wright, and former players Taylor Mays and Everson Griffen partying it up. Just being at a party isn’t an NCAA violation, but the mere association of the several players with a known NFL agent could be a problem.

There’s no doubt Lane Kiffin and the Trojans have warned the players about associating with Egan after what happened with Baxter. Now if you’re wondering about 1st Round Entertainment, think of them as the Seinfeld of promoters; they’re a group about nothing. The “company’s” vision as described on its Web site is nothing but a bunch of sentence fragments, with sayings borrowed from Talladega Nights. Teague Egan is nothing more than a Josh Luchs wanna-be who should be avoided by all college players, and despised by USC fans for getting the players into trouble.

More USC Players and 1st Round Entertainment

USC Loses Matt Barkley in Loss at Oregon State, Mitch Mustain Enters Picture

Corvallis was unkind to Southern California for the third straight time. The Trojans fell to Oregon State 36-7 on Saturday night, dropping to 7-4 on the season. It was their third straight loss on the road at Oregon State as the Beavers dominated every facet of the game. Making the win even more surprising was that Oregon State had lost two straight games, falling to inferior opponents UCLA on the road and Washington State at home. On the other hand, USC entered the game having beaten Arizona on the road and Arizona State at home their past two games.

Oregon State got up 20-0 on USC at halftime, returning an interception for a touchdown and getting a pass interference penalty on a fake punt leading to their second touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley got hurt on USC’s last offensive play before halftime, injuring his ankle. The team struggled to move the ball with him in the game and had little success with backup Mitch Mustain running the offense. Barkley was 10-17 for 75 yards and the pick six while Mustain was just 8-17 for 60 yards. Both players seemed uncomfortable throwing the ball in the cold weather, never connecting with their receivers consistently. Moreover, Oregon State defensive lineman Stephen Paea was in the backfield disrupting play after play.

Barkley’s injury is a high ankle sprain, something that usually takes around a month to heal. That means Barkley is likely done for the season. USC only has two games remaining on their schedule and no bye weeks. If the Trojans were eligible for the postseason, Barkley would probably be able to return in time for a bowl game, but it looks like he’ll miss USC’s two rivalry games — Notre Dame and UCLA.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Steve Dykes