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Blocked Extra Point Return Helped USC Beat Arizona State

If I were to tell you that the kicking game was a big reason a team lost in a USC game, you wouldn’t have been surprised. What is surprising is that it was the other team’s kicking game that blew the ballgame for a change.

USC and Arizona State were matched almost identically when it came to the stats. They had a similar amount of first downs, total yards, penalties, and punts, and they were each sacked and intercepted the same amount of times. Oddly enough, it was a blocked extra point that helped give the Trojans a 34-33 win. Arizona State scored three straight touchdowns to rally and take the lead 33-29 on USC with about seven minutes left. Their extra point attempt following a 10-yard touchdown pass was blocked, and Torrin Harris returned it the other way for a two-point conversion. Instead of being up 34-29, Arizona State was then up just 33-31.

USC drove 68 yards to set up Joe Houston’s go-ahead 29-yard field goal, which made him 1-for-3 on the game. After missing his first two kicks, Houston became the hero because his adversary, Thomas Weber, not only had the extra point blocked, but he also missed the potential winning field goal for Arizona State from 42 yards away. The NFL doesn’t have the same rule as college where the defending team can return a ball the other way for a two-point conversion. Maybe college football will rethink their policy.

USC May Go to the Spread Offense

The best coaches are able to take what they have and make the most of it. That means putting players in position to have the best chance of succeeding, which means adjusting to the talents on the roster. It sounds like USC coach Lane Kiffin recognizes that reality and is prepared to make some adjustments in the future when USC’s recruiting is affected by the loss of scholarships. With his team off this week, Kiffin and his staff was out recruiting and he suggested to reporters that the team might change to the spread next year:

“Look at what we have,” Kiffin said. “We have a bunch of really good receivers and tight ends and backs. We don’t have a fullback that’s on our roster two months from now. We’ll have to make the best of whatever we’re dealt with.”

As long as they have Matt Barkley at quarterback, they won’t have an offense where the QB is a running threat (unlike UCLA which has no business doing so with their personnel). But with the way Barkley has looked this year, he may leave for the NFL draft after next season meaning USC could become a full-blown spread team in two years.

We’ve been used to seeing the Trojans run a pro set offense under Pete Carroll so a change would be strange. Still, the best coaches adjust the talent in the program and it looks like USC is prepared to do just that.

USC Coach Takes an Epic Spill (Video)

It’s come to our attention that USC lost on Saturday in more ways than one.  Their team, of course, lost a tough game to unranked Washington on a last-second field goal.  However, one of the members of the Trojans coaching staff may be hurting more than anyone on Sunday.  Check out this video of a fat USC coach wiping out, courtesy of YouTube user jgregorio62:

It looked like someone literally swept the rug out from under his feet. That can’t have felt good.

Desmond Howard Calls Out Pat Haden for Keeping Reggie Bush BCS Money

When Reggie Bush officially decided to “forfeit” the Heisman Trophy he won in 2005, I said it would end the hotly debated topic. Boy was I wrong. A good portion of the day was spent discussing the morality of Bush giving back the Trophy, and maybe Desmond Howard made the best point of all. For someone who didn’t have a lot of opinions on all matters college football last week, the former Michigan Heisman Trophy winner was outspoken on College Football Live Wednesday. He called out new USC athletic director Pat Haden for a hypocritical act:

“Pat Haden, the new athletic director, earlier in the month he said ‘If I were Reggie Bush with Pat Haden’s soul, yes I would give back the Heisman.’ OK, the Heisman’s given back. But Pat Haden, what are you going to now as far as correcting these transgressions? They played with an ineligible player, they went to BCS Bowl Games with an ineligible player, you don’t have the wins no more but you still have the money. What is your soul telling you to do with that money now that you got with an illegal player? That’s the big question that I want to hear answered now.”

Howard’s not the first person I’ve heard say USC should pay back the BCS money they earned while Bush was an ineligible member of the team, but he did a good job relating Haden’s “soul” comment with what Bush finally did. He’s absolutely right. Bush gave back something for which he gave his butt off and rightfully earned on the field (but lost based on what he did off of it). Where’s Haden now to make good on his end? Wouldn’t that be the right, just, and moral thing to do too? Desmond’s absolutely correct. Next move is on you, Pat.

Lou Holtz: USC Penalties Were Unfair

When USC was penalized by the NCAA, the initial reaction from most people was that the Trojans were hit harder than any school since Southern Methodist. Some people felt the punishment was warranted while others found it to be excessive. USC is trying to appeal some of the penalties and is saying that the punishment does not fit the crime. While Pete Carroll has been singing this tune the loudest, a surprising voice has joined the chorus.

Former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz joined The Wiz of Odds podcast to discuss many of the prevalent issues in college football. One of the questions host Jay Christensen asked was if the sanctions against USC were fair. Here was Holtz’s response:

Based on what I read, I would say ‘no.’ But then again, I didn’t read all the other things. Here’s why I say ‘no.’ Because the only one that they really came out on football was with Reggie Bush and it all had to do with an agent. It did not have to do with a coach paying him money, alumni paying money. I did not read of any other player involved along that line.

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Returning Bush’s Heisman Won’t Change History But Is Right Thing to do

A move many of us figured was coming before too long finally happened on Tuesday. USC athletic director Mike Garrett was replaced by Pat Haden who promised to “compete ferociously but also ethically.” Haden’s first order of business is to patch up the public image of USC after the Trojans suffered numerous hits within the last several months. On top of all the gaffes by Lane Kiffin, the school was punished by the NCAA for multiple violations mostly related to O.J. Mayo and Reggie Bush. Now, new school president Max Nikias isn’t messing around:

“I have instructed the senior vice president for administration to remove athletic jerseys and murals displayed in recognition of O.J. Mayo and Reggie Bush by mid-August – before the incoming class of students moves on campus – from Heritage Hall, the Galen Center, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Nikias also said Reggie Bush’s 2005 Heisman Trophy will be revoked and returned to the Heisman Trophy Trust in August.

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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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