Although almost the entirety of my Friday radio show on Sporting News Radio was spent talking about the punishments handed down to USC Thursday, I haven’t had a chance to write about them here at LBS. There are so many different directions to go — arrogance, invincibility, money, greed, lying, denials, Heismans, Carroll getting off, Kiffin Karma — but now’s not the time for all of that. Instead, I’d like to focus on one aspect of the saga I missed this weekend. In one of the most ironic twists I’ve read about, USC — the same school whose coaches completely disregarded the advice and warnings of its compliance directors — has turned in opposing schools to their compliance officers! Here’s the scoop:
It’s been over three months since the NCAA Infractions Committee met with USC officials for a hearing. The typical lapse between an infractions hearing and the sanctions handed down by the NCAA is six to 10 weeks, but this case has taken much longer. The LA Times suggests the long wait is due to logistics and there’s no question the NCAA wants to get it right. Why might they be taking extra time to ensure their sanctions are well reasoned? They could be facing an unprecedented legal response from USC in appeals if the penalties are too harsh.
Even though the Trojans are optimistic as they await word from the NCAA, I’m told they have a backup plan in case things don’t work out as well as hoped. Sources close to the USC athletic program and familiar with the legal proceedings say the school’s attorneys are planning to challenge the NCAA’s ability to sanction them. The source noted that USC has the legal and financial resources to put up this type of “groundbreaking” effort.
The obvious question at this point is: under what grounds could USC possibly challenge the NCAA’s sovereignty in the matter? It’s possible that USC would file their appeal under the umbrella of the public policy doctrine, if not something else. Should USC appeal the sanctions handed down by the NCAA under these grounds, they wouldn’t be the only ones challenging the NCAA’s power; Ed O’Bannon is leading a class-action suit against the NCAA regarding the use of former athletes images and likenesses for profit.
Multiple reports say USC will make Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin the school’s new football coach, replacing Pete Carroll. Lane was an assistant at USC from ’01-’06, serving as tight ends coach, then offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator before accepting the coaching job with the Oakland Raiders. Kiffin just completed his first season as the head coach at Tennessee but he ran into several problems with the NCAA and opposing coaches. His penalty for leaving his Tennessee contract early is supposedly $800,000 and the news comes as a surprise at least to Vols fans. While USC is getting a familiar face, there are several reasons for me to question the hire by USC.
First off, Lane Kiffin was already being investigated by the NCAA for several different potential violations. He got into hot water for talking disparagingly about South Carolina, saying Urban Meyer violated rules when recruiting Nu’Keese Richardson, and then he saw three of his freshman get arrested for attempted robbery. As if that wasn’t enough, his hostesses got in trouble for traveling to recruit high school players in South Carolina. This is really the kind of guy USC wants in there especially when they’re facing potential problems with the NCAA for the Reggie Bush and Joe McKnight violations? Is there goal to reach Rose Bowls or SMU’s fate?
As for Kiffin, I really don’t understand how he can in good faith leave Tennessee after just one year. The Vols opened up the door to him, supported him with the highest compensated staff in the country, and he thanks them by bolting after one year. He might actually be doing them a favor because of the problems he had already created but it’s still a slap in the face to act excited about getting a job only to leave a year later. We’ll never know what Kiffin would have achieved in Knoxville and they now have to start from scratch when other top candidates have already found jobs. That sure was considerate of him and it’s no surprise Tennessee fans are already rioting.
Well, what goes around comes around and Lane will probably receive what he deserves — a program about to be punished. Ed Orgeron will probably be able to out-recruit UCLA but what good will it do with only 15 scholarships a year?
Between running a national powerhouse football team, recruiting high schoolers, handling the media, and dealing with BCS jokers, USC coach Pete Carroll sure has a lot on his plate. Despite the pressures of trying to go undefeated each season and win a national championship, the guy sure has managed to set up pretty awesome pranks. He’s staged mock arrests, and LenDale White had a mock suicide once. But this Halloween prank might be the best. Via SC Playbook:
As practice was wrapping up and the team gathered at midfield, suddenly one of the video assistants that was taping practice from a scissor lift high above started yelling and fell from the lift and out of sight.
Seconds later, the door to Howard Jones Field flew open and Will Ferrell, in his Capatin Compete costume, emerged with the fallen video assistant safe in his arms, to the relief of several wide-eyed players.
Captain Compete then gave the team some words of wisdom before being interrupted by a loud explosion. A man then ran onto the field on fire.
Captain Compete saved the day once again by dousing the burning man with Gatorade.
Of course, the whole incident would not be complete without pictures of the events! Photos courtesy of SC Playbook. And may I ask one thing? Why does Will Ferrell always manage to wind up wearing nothing but a speedo?
**UPDATE: See video of the whole prank below**
Much like I said about Cam Cameron last week, coaches looking to make jumps need to ponder the situation they’re going to. Some people get so blinded by the thought of a promotion that they go to a bad team, perform poorly, and get canned for good. I’m not saying that Pete Carroll wouldn’t be able to turn around the Falcons or that he wouldn’t get another head coaching offer if he failed in Atlanta, I’m just saying it’s not a good situation to walk into.
In Atlanta, you have no quarterback, and not too many playmakers on defense. Though they’re in a good spot under the cap, they don’t have too many weapons to speak of. Additionally, you’d be working for Arthur Blank whose nose seems to be in the middle of all the football business. I highly doubt Carroll wants that around. Sure it would be good money, but why would it be worth it? What’s Atlanta going to give him, four years to turn it around? That’s about how long it would take — four or five to be fair. I don’t know if Blank would have that patience, or if Carroll would either. Not to mention, Carroll would go from being a top college coach to being a loser, or at best, mediocre in the NFL with the Falcons. Why would he want to do that?
I just do not see how it would be in Pete Carroll’s interest to leave USC for Atlanta. He has it made in So Cal. The alumni love him, he dominates the Pac-10, and he has a great recruiting base. His squads are perennial national title contenders that always receive respect from pre-season voters. I’m not sure exactly how much he makes, but I’m sure he’s living comfortably. Money can be enticing, but the situation would have to be the selling point for me if I’m Pete Carroll trying to prove I can win in the NFL. It’s the situation, not the money, that’s most important.
You figure the head coach of one the most successful college football programs in the country probably spends his practices imparting the wisdom of his predecessors. You would think he’d be barking out coaching methods from Tom Landry and Bear Bryant on the practice field, and sharing the secrets of Vince Lombardi’s success in the film room. You would think all that but you would be wrong. When it comes to coaching his players, Pete Carroll uses methods he learned from a tennis book. No joke.
He picked up the psychology and philosophy in earnest in the mid-1970s when he was a graduate student at the University of the Pacific. That was when he discovered “The Inner Game of Tennis.”
“It’s all about clearing the clutter in the interactions between your conscious and subconscious mind.”
Right, because there are so many similarities between the physical game of tennis, and the mental game of football. Get ready for every color commentator in America to play this story out in three … two … one …
Former Marlins 1st round pick and LSU quarterback, Josh Booty, was guest-hosting over the weekend on Fox Sports Radio along with Dan Moriarty and Denny Hocking. When the topic of Texas’ national championship win over USC in the Rose Bowl was brought up, Josh reacted adversely.
Obviously the issue brought up bad memories for Josh, whose brother John David is the starting quarterback for the Trojans. Josh got more specific and explained what that loss said about the USC program:
It took a lot of pressure off JD for this year because he didn’t have that long streak and there’s a lot of things that go along with that. But [Athletic Director Mike] Garrett came into the locker room after the game and looked at JD and said ‘We don’t lose football games here at ‘SC.’ And he looked right at JD and said ‘Don’t ever lose a game here.’ That was a tough one for JD to swallow, I know that.
Wow. “We don’t lose football games here at ‘SC.” Don’t ever lose a game here.” Not to put any pressure on you or anything. So by those standards, ’06 was a disappointing year for USC I gather. Man, talk about curbing your expectations, sheesh.