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NCAA Sports: Have the USC "Brain-Trust" Lost Their Minds?

Now we know why it took the NCAA four years.

Yes, I am aware of the University of Kentucky's past NCAA infractions, and I'm even more cognizant of the renegade reputation UK's athletic programs have built over the last 60 years.  Most, if not all of the major infractions UK has committed within both the football and basketball programs have been egregious, and justifiably severely punished by the NCAA.

And one thing I have learned from UK's history, as well as the history of cheating in the Alabama, and Miami, Fla. football programs (along with many others), is that when a university is caught, hook-in-mouth, there really isn't much one can do or say to offset the damage done by those who choose to fracture NCAA statutes.  A second history lesson has also been taught and learned: The university president as well as the athletic director of the offending schools are best served to increase self-policing.  And let it be known to all potential coaches and athletes, along with the ubiquitous boosters, that committing NCAA infractions is unacceptable, and will be punished with termination, and/or loss of scholarships.  And in the case of boosters, banishment to the hither-lands for all eternity.  Simply put, university administrators must take the medicine, in the dosage required by the NCAA, and then go about the business of cleaning up their respective programs.

Unless of course ones name is Mike Garrett; Athletic Director at the University of Southern California, or Lane Kiffin, USC's football coach, or Kevin O'Neill, Trojan basketball coach.

Tru, in an exhaustive essay, laid out the specifics of the major violations within the Trojan basketball and football programs.  Violations committed over the last six years.  Said violations are varying, vast, and almost too numerous to count.  So, I won't be recounting the infractions (for that, please read Tru's piece), but I would like to illuminate all to the USC athletic brain-trust's reaction to the Trojan's NCAA mandated punishment, as put forth by ESPN's college basketball blogger, Diamond Leung.

Brace yourself, shocking doesn't adequately describe the words you are about to read:

To a group of boosters the day the sanction were announced, Garrett had this to say:

"As I read the decision by the NCAA, all I could get out of all of this was ... I read between the lines and there was nothing but a lot of envy, and they wish they were all Trojans.  We're fighters.  As I told my staff, I said, 'You know, I feel invigorated by all this stuff.'"

No, Garrett, the AD, who is charged with overseeing the entire athletic department, didn't lecture his boosters on the need to follow the guidelines of fair play, rather, he instead feigned being flabbergasted by the sanctions, and delusionally stated the NCAA Enforcement committee collectively want to be USC Trojans.  Unbelievable!

His statement is absent logic, remorse, or any semblance of taking responsibility for his part in the rule breaking.  Like, uh, he hired the guys who were busted, or, like, apologize for being oblivious to all that was taking place underneath his own nose ... for many years.  Garrett should have begged forgiveness, and promised to put the rain clouds in the rear view mirror.  But, hey, whatever.  All I can say is, I am exceedingly happy he isn't employed by the University of Kentucky.

Proudly following in Garrett's misguided footsteps is "The Genius," formally known as Lane Kiffin:

"Regardless of what happens in that appeal, we know this: SC is more powerful than anything else.  The university, the football program, the basketball program -- no matter what they try to do to us, it won't matter."


I offer this without comment.  It's so ridiculous on its face that darkening pixels to admonish Kiffin would be a monumental waste of time and energy. 

And finally, of the three, USC basketball coach Kevin O'Neill came nearest to making some type of sense:

"We can't control people 24 hours a day.  That's all there is to it.  You cannot control people from the outside.  You cannot control agents. You cannot control runners.  Those kind of things get away from you sometimes because you have no way of knowing.  I do know this: We do the right thing every single day by the university, by the athletic department, by the student-athletes."

My major critique of O'Neill: Instead of saying, "You cannot control people from the outside,"  O'Neill should have said, "It's very hard to control people from the outside." 

But, that's not really at the heart of the matter, because the coaches were involved, to an alarming degree, in the malfeasance.  O'Neill blaming "people from the outside" for Tim Floyd's dishonesty, or Pete Carroll ignoing the fact that Reggie Bush was livin' life large, like a movie star, is akin to Kelvin Sampson blaming AT&T for his, and his staffs excessive dead-period phone calls to recruits while at Oklahoma and Indiana.

But O'Neill, unlike his co-workers, is at least partially correct.  It can be a daunting task ensuring ones players aren't surreptitiously taking money, or extra benefits from those looking out for only themselves.  So, perhaps the folks at SC should take a page out of the Rick Pitino handbook on controlling outside influences by banning all boosters, movie stars, street agents, AAU coaches, and vermin from all university activities.  That means practice, locker rooms, games, living quarters, spring formals, and pantie raids.  And the SC staff might also look into logging each players vehicle, and any status change regarding their vehicle.  See, that's not so difficult, coach.

Now, there are some who will point out that Garrett, Kiffin, and O'Neill were speaking to a USC booster club when they uttered the offending comments, and were simply rallying the troops, but, my contention is that the troops have been sufficiently rallied over the last decade, and are now in need of education. 

An education which includes the admonishment: Do not come near our athletes.  As much as you want to, as much as you want to make yourself feel important, stay away.  We'll (as in the university) take your money, but don't compromise the ability of USC to field a truly amateur athletics program free from sanctions.

And speaking of sanctions: Once again it's the athletes, innocent of wrongdoing, whom will be punished.  Not Reggie Bush, or O.J. Mayo, not Tim Floyd, or Pete Carroll.  The truly guilty are free of the loss of 30 scholarships, the two-year bowl ban, the vacation of victories,  and the four-years of probation.  Just as Richie Farmer, John Pelphrey, Deron Feldhaus, Derrick Millar, and Reggie Hanson, among others, suffered through the punishment for the sins of Eddie Sutton and staff at Kentucky, this current group of Trojans will likewise pay the price.

Just another reason to despise the cheaters.

Thanks for reading, and Go 'Cats!