The Buzz- LA reacts to USC Sanctions

Written June 13th, 2010 by MaliBuckeye

Third post in our coverage of Southern Cal’s wonderful snuggle fiesta with the NCAA. Here’s your music:

It’s been an interesting week here in Los Angeles, out on the far edge of the ocean. The Dodgers are doing well, Kobe and Friends are having fun at Bill Simmons’ expense, we’ve got earthquakes weekly, and we’re watching a couple of folks try to purchase the right to be the governor of our state and it’s botched economy.

But, with all the news we’ve been hearing out of the University of Southern California, it’s been difficult to miss folks’ reactions and responses to all things Trojans.

I’m assuming that you’ve got “the Google”, so you can get the analysis from all the websites (be sure to check out SBN’s Conquest Chronicles, the LA Times, and the OC Register). Instead, I want to answer Ken’s question from the comments- “what is fan reaction to USC getting curb-stomped?

With that in mind, I want to introduce you to the Five College Football Fans You Meet In Los Angeles.

Heaven? Nope- too much fricking smog.

Arrogant- Current USC AD Mike Garrett (emphasis on “current”- he shouldn’t get too comfortable) was quoted as saying the following

“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 all were Trojans.”

Yeah, champ. That’s it.

Combined with Pete “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Carroll’s script read through, and you get a sense of the attitude that many Trojan supporters have, even today. A look though the message boards shows a group of deluded folks who still see this as the NCAA on a witch hunt, trying to punish a bunch of outstanding citizens who are only guilty of trying to help young adults out. There’s no way for me to adequately describe this vibe other than to make the following comparison- these folks remind me of either every interview I’ve ever seen with Barry Switzer or the continued hauter exhibited by the members of “Da U”, even now, years after their program has been highlighted as on of the worst things to happen to college football. I’m guessing these folks may not have the self awareness to realize that those aren’t good comparisons.

In Denial- There are a lot of people here in the Southland who are assuming that this didn’t happen, and that it will all go away with the appeal. “Ok, they sent the message… but we’ve got a new coach, and all that stuff should be put behind us”. Or, echoing Pete’s script from earlier “these sanctions are much too harsh for what happened; they’ll be changed.

I’m guessing these people missed this part of official report

The committee seriously considered the imposition of a television ban as a penalty in this case. After lengthy discussion, the committee ultimately decided that the imposition of other significant penalties, as set forth here, adequately responded to the nature of the violations found in this case and the level of institutional responsibility. Therefore, a television ban need not be imposed. The committee notes, however, that the television ban is a penalty designed in part to ameliorate extensive and positive media and public attention gained by a program through commission of violations. The committee also notes that the decision in this case not to impose the penalty was a very close call. All student-athletes, coaches, administrators, boosters and agents must understand that violations of NCAA rules have severe consequences.

In other words, it could have been worse. Fans in denial (or “irrationally optimistic”, if you will) should also be aware that the chances of the appeal being successful are pretty slim, if the LA Times is to be believed. They should also remember that the findings did not include any recent concerns; an appeal and review would be likely to take those things into account.

Not a panda, but still sad

Overwhelmed- To be honest, these are most of the people that I know. I had one friend who, when I tried to call to see that she was OK, simply told me- “I’m just going to go into my office and cry”.  It’s almost as if they know that it’s finally caught up with their team; the rumors of impropriety, all the celebrities and hangers on at practice and on the sidelines and in the locker room, the “competitive advantage” that their coach always preached… it’s finally time to pay the bill. To go with another analogy, it’s a lot like the Southern California housing market- no one asked why it was going up and up and up… but now that the bubble has popped, it’s beyond description.

On their behalf, many of these are the true fans; the ones who will still support their team, who didn’t like the latest coaching hire, and who will “fight on” through this.

Attention. You're not paying it

Oblivious- If most of the people I know personally are shell shocked, much of the rest of the “fan base” are not impacted by this at all. This is because much of LA is made up of t-shirt alumni, people who pay attention to sports when everything is going well. They’re transplants from other places, they have more “important” things to do (Disneyland, the beach, sitting in traffic), and will be wearing UCLA gear in a couple of years. Speaking of which…

No idea what this logo is

Gleeful- Those of us who are fans of other teams, particularly UCLA, have been loving every minute of this experience. We get to say “we told you so”, and use words like “comeuppance”. Bruins fans are also able to forget that their current guy was involved in a scandal of some sort at his last two institutions, and focus instead on the joy that comes from the pain of your enemy. And, given how one sided that rivalry has been recently and how obnoxious three of the four types mentioned above can be to live and work with, they’re getting a lot of mileage out of this moment.

To be candid; while not a fan of UCLA, I can certainly resonate with their perspective.


  1. KenNo Gravatar
    June 13th, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Thanks for the profiles, it was the best of both worlds; informative and entertaining. Good grief, it sounds like quite the menagerie out there.


  2. FredNo Gravatar
    June 13th, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    USC became a magnet for celebrities and all the high profile attention because they were winning – the proverbial jumping on the bandwagon. This was not a case of a corrupt program getting caught, this was the result of a successful program getting caught up and losing control. Instead of bashing USC, where’s the outrage over the convicted felons that started the whole mess – unscrupulous individuals looking for personal gain at the expense of others. This is a systemic problem across college athletics – not just at USC.


    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    June 13th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    I agree that USC did not start out being corrupt… no program does. But, as you said, it happened- success became more about the scoreboard and records than the integrity of the program and young adults within it.

    With that, if SC can be a “wake up call” for folks, then it’s a good thing. Although, given what we’re seeing in the land/money grab that is the conference expansion conversation, it may be falling on deaf ears.

    Question- When you say “unscrupulous individuals”, are you referring to persons within the programs (boosters, hangers on, coaches with questionable character), or the programs themselves (using young adults to profit institutions at a greater level than the benefit received for the student athletes)?

    Thanks for joining the conversation…


    KenNo Gravatar
    June 13th, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Fred, actually this is an example of a corrupt program being ‘caught’. I think you are right about USC’s magnetism attracting hangers on and other parasites, but it seems USC didn’t make much of a concerted effort to deal with the ‘unscrupulous individuals’ that were attracted to it. You need to go no further than recent comments by Mike Garrett and Pete Carroll, that the USC institution willfully turned a blind eye to the corruption or facilitated it by allowing access to USC players. To your last point, I don’t doubt for a minute that this isn’t endemic across big time college sports, it was just more egregious at USC.


    Rex WildeNo Gravatar
    June 16th, 2010 at 12:39 am

    Actually I think most of the posts here are not informed. The NCAA acted to a media circus and did not act in a reputable fashion.

    They have a history of inconsistency.

    If you read the transcripts and look for guilt beyond a reasonable doubt you won’t find it.

    It reminds me of the OJ trial except in reverse. The NCAA wanted USC to be guilty. The jury wanted OJ to be free.

    The glove didn’t fit you must acquit.

    The NCAA wanted to believe a drug dealer who constantly contradicted his own story instead of believing a coach at the University. That is the case.

    Key notes to case.

    People involved 3. One basketball player, One football player, one Tennis Player.

    Once story broke in April 2006, Reggie Bush had already said he was going pro. That was first USC heard of these indictments.

    Statements are completely crazy. Statements about running back driving Mercedes etc are unfounded in the media. Per transcripts running back purchased a used Chevy Impala. His mother is a sheriff and his father works in law enforcement too. Together their income is over 100k.. Running back wasn’t from a destitute family and in fact was an honor roll student.

    In USC’s investigation they found out running back did receive some benefits but there isn’t proof that all the money mentioned by the out of control media was ever provided. Most of that could be heresay by disgruntled drug dealer who running back scorned and did not sign with his wanna be agency. Please note he wasn’t an agent, isn’t an agent and never can be an agent due to his criminal record. NFL doesn’t allow criminals to be agents…

    New facts NCAA has to deal with are Agents or wanna be agents were spending dollars to lure athletes to leave USC to go pro so they could cash in on agency contracts. USC claims to have no knowledge of this and if you read the transcripts you would agree that there is no proof linking this. USC nor does any University benefit when players leave early. USC does not benefit here.

    In other Cases Alabama etc Huge money was spent by University officials to lure players to come PLAY for the Crimson Tide. I think 21 players were paid. The received hefty penalties 2 year bowl ban and loss of 20 scholarships.

    Florida State had 81 players in 6 different sports cheat on exams and the administration knew and even directed student athletes to this scheme. That is lack of institutional control if there ever was one. Penalties for Florida State — taking away some meaningless victories from the past. No bowl ban, no loss of scholarships etc.

    That being said, the running back did admit to receiving money from drug dealer. This makes his amateur status in question. So therefore the NCAA should act on this knowledge as there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. But I doubt the penalty should be

    bowl ban for 2 years, loss of scholarships 30..

    As far as having practice open so people can come and watch, I don’t get it. What is the problem with that???

    By the way, the drug dealer was not one of those people who were at the practices… This is just media hype and has no relevance to case.

    From Jeff at The BBC – Bullshit


    Rex WildeNo Gravatar
    June 16th, 2010 at 1:00 am


    You couldn’t be more off base.

    Mayo’s issues, combined with the Bush case, allowed the NCAA to put the two together and pursue USC for “lack of institutional control.” But it was 3 isolated incidents if you include access to university phone by Tennis player who used phone to call home which happenned to be out of the country. Not a lack of institutional control that appears at UF (no sanctions), Alabama (did get sanctions) and Florida State (hardly anything at all despite massive academic fraud).

    No we won’t. We’re not letting you profile, or stereotype LA. Nothing bad happened as the result of an open practice at USC ever. You think Lake and Michaels (drug dealer and agent) were coming around to be seen in the light of day? No way. The media hyped the occasional actor or celebrity that dropped by But pee wee football teams were there as were young neighborhood kids. How about Ricky Rosas (the handicapped kid who came by and befriended the team)? Would he have gotten stopped at the gate the first time he showed up under your rules?

    No way. It is still a kids game. All practices should be open so the students and kids from pee wee programs can come by and check it out. it is an amateur sport isn’t it? Isn’t that what the NCAA is trying to infer??

    So no, NCAA Committee on Infractions. We’re not going to do that. You can’t make us. Show us where it says we have to act like the SEC and have state troopers guarding the field during practice. Sorry, that doesn’t fly here. We want our team to be part of the community and vice versa.

    How does USC go about going public here? How does USC tell its story, to show how unreasonably unprecedented the NCAA’s actions have been here?

    Reggie took money yes. He was no longer an amateur. Okay.

    But the NCAA cleared OJ Mayo to play for USC then changed its mind. In its investigation it knew all parties involved. It new that OJ Mayo sought out USC and USC never pursued OJ Mayo. It cleared OJ Mayo to play then changed its mind and used this as a catalyst to futher their penalty.

    The question is why??? Why is the NCAA doing this?

    Could it be they are losing control??

    It used to be athletes stayed around for 4 years before going pro. Now in basketball they are one and done. And in football they are leaving after 2 years.. Are they really student athletes?

    Get the facts

    You must read the transcripts yourself. Recognize the media has been a circus as it usually is.


    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    June 16th, 2010 at 1:51 am

    Appreciate the perspective- thanks for joining in on the conversation.

    One thing that I do question is in regards to Lake. I’ve heard/read a lot about his being a felon, etc., which is important information.

    However, there seems to be some missed information regarding the other person with questionable past mentioned in the report (Ornstein) being given the opportunity to develop a unique internship with his sports marketing agency that was only available to student athletes at USC. Let me know if I’m mis-reading pages 30-31 and 48-49 of the NCAA reports.

    Doesn’t it seem as if USC could have done a better job at screening folks associated with their student athletes, particularly those who had this type of relationship?

    Having not been a part of the investigation, I also am confused as to what would cause the NCAA to find that an assistant coach was aware of this situation (in January of 2006, not April of 2006) and both a) did not report it and b) later spoke less than truthfully about his knowledge of the situation. You don’t cover up something that isn’t there, unless I’m missing a piece of information.

    Other coverage of USC’s appeal process and arguments can be found here:

    I will agree that this has a (to use an analogy from Malibu) “Brittany Spears” feel to it- the media is having a heyday tearing down an icon/institution that they themselves helped to create. “Who’s watching the watchmen?”, and all that- it’s another reason I’m really queasy about the conference realignment sponsored by Television Companies.

    You’ll also find no larger critic of the NCAA’s inconsistencies than I, having worked at both the Division 1A “Big Time” level, the D1A “Small school” level, and the D3 level. Your question “are they really student athletes” is one that I resonate with.

    Again, I hope you hear my response as welcoming- we value dialogue hereabouts…


  3. Ian_InsideTheShoeNo Gravatar
    June 13th, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    I’ve read that book.


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