Archive for category USC Trojans

USC CFB Sanctions – Here Comes The Hammer

So – and really it’s not officially official until the press conferences happen – but there are reports are that the NCAA has finally gotten it’s courage up and bringing the hammer down on USC.

As far as sanctions go, it’s not too far over the top. It’ll hurt but it’s not a killing blow.

First off, a few things. One, I went to USC and I am a Pac 10 fan. So I’m not gunning for USC and I’m no hater.  Two, I’ve been super critical about the ‘first not best’ reporting of the media for the last month. I stand by that.

Listen, either get it right or don’t print it. If people worried about getting a story right and doing it well, maybe they wouldn’t catch crap when the story is wrong because they jumped early.

Also, it’s almost depressing how quickly some of the media gets their knives out about stuff like this. I understand fans hating USC. But some national level columnists are acting like bitter kids.

As a country we both crave and hate success – and oh how we love the fall.

Media is no different. It’s already tiresome to read column after column of ’USC got away again’ because the NCAA didn’t drop nuclear missles or something.

Maybe it’s tired because  this has been dragging on for nearly five years. Which is stupid. This isn’t a FBI investigation into a crafty serial killer. It’s not an episode of CSI: Miami.

It’s an investigation into a) whether Reggie Bush took money during college and b) whether USC knew.

I’ll give you two years. On a morning where I’m in a good mood, you could talk me into three years. Four? Five? Come on.

You know what dragging your feet does NCAA? Here it is – in caps so I KNOW you can see what I’m saying:


Who is getting punished by the ban? Not Pete Carroll. He bugged out as soon as investigators finally looked serious. Not Reggie Bush – he was gone before you started your investigation. 

So a bunch of students – none of which were even at school when USC screwed up – are now hosed. Just like the OJ Mayo debacle, it’s not the guilty who are punished, but those left behind.

Except Lane Kiffin, who was there for the Bush fiasco, left, then ran back in time to get sanctioned. So one out of at least three, probably more?

Nicely done NCAA.

But enough about the broader aspects of this. Let’s talk details.

Assuming this is all true – and I’m giving benefit of the doubt since reports are coming out of Los Angeles this time – here’s the nitty gritty.

According to ESPNLosAngeles:

The USC football program will receive a two-year postseason ban, a reduction in scholarships and a forfeiture of wins from at least the 2004 season when the NCAA releases its sanctions on Thursday, a source told ESPN’s Shelley Smith.

Let’s examine this point by point. Before I go further though, the article mentions that it is possible (I don’t know about likely) that the school could be considered a repeat offender as they were sanctioned in 2001.

If you get sanctioned again within five years of your first sanction, the NCAA can lower an even bigger hammer on your head. Now you may ask yourself ‘Self? How could a violation in 2001 cause repeat offender status in 2010?’m

Your ‘Self’ may not have an answer but I’ll point to the snail-like pace of the NCAA again where the violations happened way back in 2004 but they only just got their act together.

Clearly this is stuck in my craw, so let’s acknowledge I think it was way too long and move on.

Assuming the repeat offender thing isn’t a reality then the penalties are harsh for those still at USC, but aren’t earth-shattering.

1) The two-year postseason ban – This sucks for the kids there (and new staff not named Kiffin) but it isn’t that terrible. Also, if the Pac 10 expansion happens, I’m not sure if this applies to any BigPac Championship games (that title is Pat. Pending by the way) so USC may still have a crack at a Title of some sort.

Again, who does this hurt? The people at USC who weren’t when Bush and Carroll violated NCAA rules. This is why I think anyone calling for tougher sanctions needs their heads examined.

Matt Barkley should be punished more for something someone did when he was starting high school? Isn’t it enough he’s going to miss the post-season for two years?

For some, nope. Hate of USC trumps sense I guess.

I think many of the players will stick it out, but I can imagine some other schools are drooling over maybe stealing a few players. That could be a problem for USC, but they seem to be able to hold onto recruits far longer than you’d think.

People go to USC because it’s USC – that’s why they can have three great running backs and a host of linebackers – all of whom could start elsewhere – on the bench and recruit more of the same.

Speaking of recruiting, this will hurt a little in the short term but long term, it will be a blip. USC was able to withstand the defection of Carroll, the knowledge something was happening with the NCAA and the arrival of Kiffin just fine.

I think in the end, the brand will recruit the kids regardless. And some of these kids will barely even see the sanctions – guys recruited for 2011 and 2012 might not care. It’ll be over by the time they reach the atatus of starter.

As a whole the school could lose out on money from a major bowl (which despite the above linked article’s opinion, isn’t that far fetched for USC) and that will affect the entire conference.

But again, definitely something you can recover from.

2) A reduction in scholarships – This also isn’t a disaster although it isn’t great. I read somewhere in the last few days that USC was well under their limit of scholarships so it might sting less, but it’s never good to lose more than 20 scholarships.

Will this lose them recruits until they earn them back (I don’t even know right now how long they lose them for)? Perhaps. But USC has recruited well for years and if you think that the cream of the crop will be the ones without the full ride, you’re dreaming.

This might hurt the bench depth more than anything. And like the post-season ban, totally surmountable.

3) Forfeiture of wins from at least the 2004 season – this hurts the present team the least as – sure losing a shiny trophy sucks, but history is history. Various Pac 10 teams and Auburn will likely feel a bit smug, but they still didn’t really win a title because let’s face it – at the end of the day they lost and you can ‘what if’ it to death and nobody outside of those groups really will care.

I think it’d be nice for the players from way back when to get their rewards, but no recruit is going to go ‘Wait you lost games in 2004 due to sanctions? Let me get Michigan on the phone…’.

So again, not a crisis.

Really, as far as USC is concerned the sanctions aren’t pleasant but also not insurmountable. So long term, not horrible.

Couple that with the news that the Pac 10 is likely expanding, including perhaps Texas – and you can almost breathe a sigh of relief.

It’s over – although you can guess USC may contest the ruling which would mean more nonsense and likely 14 more years of deliberation.

But for NOW it appears to be over. Like most sanctions, everyone is probably unsatisfied. There are some who feel USC got off lightly and there are some who may think the sanctions are too much – there are some walking around blank eyed and sure that all is well *COUGHNCAACOUGH* even though it took so long to be dealt with.

In the end, USC shouldn’t have much trouble rebounding two years from now and we’ll move on and forget this happened. Could the sanctions have been tougher? Perhaps. I don’t have all the details so I don’t know what they had to judge on. 

It seems to me the length of time says they had to work awfully hard to prove anything – and so I imagine that it’s a fair amount of punishment even if there isn’t enough bloodletting for some.

Besides, Texas will remind them Vince Young beat them in the Rose Bowl in 2006 every time they see each other.

That might be painful enough.

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USC Pro Day Wrap-Up

This week I found myself down in Los Angeles, home of the USC Trojans for what is the wrap of the Pro Day season. Yes, I will be at Hawaii’s Pro Day tomorrow, so technically it isn’t a ‘wrap’ but USC’s Pro Timing Day often marks the end of a long month or so of Pro Day workouts, plane flights and take-out food for NFL Scouts. I am curious to see who comes to Hawaii’s Pro Day tomorrow but that’s not what this is about.

I will say one of my favorite things about USC Pro Day is hanging around the Path to the Draft crew. Burmiester, Davis and Mayock are three exceptionally nice guys and very gracious. Always great to talk football with them.

So I’m guessing there is no beating around the bush here – QB Mark Sanchez looked GOOD. He threw for an awfully long time and while there were occasional hiccups, his timing, accuracy and strength was pretty good.

Plus the 80 or so throws he made – hey that’s nothing to sneeze at. Against the wind at times too. The man came to work and didn’t disappoint.

Stafford has a bigger arm, but I don’t really think it’s that big a deal. He threw scripted passes and then took requests from the audience aka the Detroit Lions. But don’t read too much into that – it just means the Lions may still go offensive line (which is, in my opinion, the choice to make) and are doing their homework on Sanchez in case he is there at 20.

I can’t say how likely that is. If Stafford drops to the Jags (a team very interested in Sanchez) then Sanchez drops a bit further and it isn’t outside the realm of sanity that he could end up with the Lions.

I started this year out as hard a critic as anyone on the USC signal caller. As Pac-10 Insider for College Football Insider, I saw a ton of Sanchez and I still say anothe ryear and he could be the top overall pick in 2010.

But the more tape I watch and the more I see of him in things like today – I have to say that he should develop into a very good quarterback. The experiance thing doesn’t bother me all that much. And if he drops to a team where he can sit for a year or two (for example, Jacksonville at 8 – do you sense a theme?), he would avoid some potentially confidence crushing sacks.

Above all this is a guy who is a hard worker and that showed today. He’s not Matt Leinart and he may not be a Carson Palmer. But he is still a very sharp athlete and could go far.

Some say his day was better than Stafford’s but I didn’t see Stafford’s with my own eyes. I did see Sanchez’s though and I liked what I saw.

The USC linebacker corp – or the Triplets as I call them – were also on display today. Matthews, Maualuga and Cushing all had good days.

Brian Cushing is probably the safe pick, though many worry about injuries with him. Still, to me he is the versatile guy who will contribute consistently early on in his career. His ceiling is not as high as the other two, but that’s no knock. Some scouts worry he isn’t a three down linebacker, but I don’t think that’s totally true. He can play in pass coverage and I believe he can continue to add to his game at the Pro level. He could very easily develop into a perennial Pro Bowler.

Cushing looked explosive and quick and made a great catch where he had to extend his body to grab the ball and looked very good doing it. While he was a bit stiff in the hips when turning, he looked very good overall and I walked away impressed with the New Jersey native. Cushing ran about a 4.70 in the one 40 I timed though I saw some scouts with 4.75 and 4.77.

Clay Matthews has had to fight his way through his college career. A walk-on, he eventually became an important part of the USC team, especially on Special Teams. Matthews is still a tad raw, but I think the skies the limit with him.

Matthews looked great in drills, showing good smoothness and fluidity as well as solid ball skills. He too caught the ball nicely in drills and overall had a great workout. He added a 4.57 in the 40 to his day and that’s not too shabby. (I had him quicker but this is where the scouts had him.)

Of course maybe the biggest story next to Sanchez was Rey Maualuga. Maualuga had to skip the position drills at the NFL Scouting Combine when he pulled his hamstring during his initial 40. He didn’t run the 40 today until well after his position drills.

As he told me in an interview (which you can hear on Wednesday’s Thundering Blurb Football Show) that he held off on the 40 because he very much wanted people to see him run the positional workout. Having missed it at the Combine, he realized it was super critical.

While he looked a little stiff at times, I thought he had a very solid workout. He was clearly favoring his hamstring still, and I saw him limp off the field for a while, coming back later to run his 40. That 40, by the way, clocked in at a 4.69, very respectible next to his 4.43 shuttle and 7.22 three-cone. There were some concerns that while rehabbing Maualuga might gain some wieght, which is really all about questions people (mostly media) have about his attitude and work ethic.

Listen, just because the guy moves to the beat of his own drummer doesn’t mean he can’t march. Maualuga can flat out play. Now, in my opinion he’s a guy who will need to adjust in the Pros – go less for the big play and more for the basics during his initial year or so in the league. It will be a few years before teams turn him loose – which is similiar to another standout USC defensive player from way back in the day by the name of Junio Seau.

Seau used to make huge plays at USC – and whiffed on them at times as well. I’m not saying El Rey is Seau, but he could be and if Seau could adjust, so could Maualuga. In the right system (maybe one involving Mike Singletary?) I think he could develop into a monster.

The dude is pretty intimidating, that’s for sure.

A few other notes – cornerback Cary Harris hurt his knee during his first 40 and missed the rest of the workout. Definitely a dissappointing way to go, and not the first time I have seen it at a Pro Day. Just another reason people wonder if the 40 is worth the trouble.

Kevin Ellison looked good in drills and his 4.70 in the 40 was nice. He was much hotter earlier in draft season, but should move a little further up boards with today’s workout.

Another less known, but very solid, linebacker prospect is Kaluka Maiava ran a 4.66 and a 4.7 by my watch and that was with a slight hamstring pull (see what I mean?). Maiava is sitting in the shadow of the Triplets right now, but could become a very good prospect once he gets into the league. I think he could have recieved a lot more publicity and attention if he was elsewhere and not behind Matthews, Cushing and Maualuge. He’s not quite their class, but he’s nothing to sneeze at.

Wide receiver Patrick Turner looked good in his drills as well, and was in synch with Sanchez as well. He made some very nice catches along the sideline and ran very fast in the 40, getting times of 4.60 and 4.58 – the 4.58 a personal best.

Turner won’t go early but is a guy who could put in a good show in camp once he’s drafted on the second day.

Sanchez to leave USC early – Pete Carroll unhappy

So as we expected (and talked about last night on The Thundering Blurb Football Show – haven’t heard it yet – click HERE) Mark Sanchez has decided to forgo his final year at USC and head off into the NFL Draft.

Now I am of two minds here – first off another year would definitely improve Sanchez. I know he looked better as the year progressed and great in the Rose Bowl but the dude has never been touched, has just one year under his belt and occasionally makes some bad throws. Now, he’s athletic, coach-able and driven, so some of what he is doing can be changed. I just hope he gets a year or so to work behind a good vet OR he is behind a good Oline wherever he goes, until he can get his feet wet.

But on the other hand, with Bradford and Tebow staying, his only real competition (right now, and it is early) is Matt Stafford of Georgia. And really, Sanchez could very easily beat him out as top QB in the draft.

Now that is no guarantee he’ll go top 10 or even first round. According to Carroll on an interview at (look under the Petros and Money show aka PMS – second hour I believe) he didn’t even get as good a draft feedback as he expected from the NFL Scouts.

Even though Carroll and Sanchez indicate money wasn’t a big indicator, you have to think that he could make a ton more this year, versus going out next year in what might be a glutted QB class. And I have heard things from several people who know things that Sanchez was a little concerned about injury. Both are understandable and totally valid concerns.

If it were me, I would be hard pressed to stay in school. Especially in this economy.

Now USC Coach Pete Carroll didn’t sugarcoat his feelings. Interestingly inthe AM570 interview one thing he said was his comments were more a message to recruits and other players than Sanchez. Carroll points to many players – Sedrick Ellis and Keith Rivers from last years’ class (whom I interviewed at USC Pro Day last year – check it out on youtube by clicking their names) among them – as having made a ton more money by staying and improving their games. He believes it and in the above clip, it comes clear (if a little angry) in his speech.

But Sanchez is moving on. I’ll keep you updated on his progress and of course we’ll have analysis of him here at the Blurb as well as at and

Mark Sanchez – Decision Time

Hey folks

Another edition of NFLDraftbible’s Decision Time – this time I was talking about USC quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Check it and many other awesome articles over at

For those of you waiting, will be back up and moving forward soon, so I am told. Am already working on a few things for them.

God I love Draft season.

Taylor Mays – Should he or shouldn’t he?

Hey folks. as we move into the non-playing season, we here at the Blurb (which would be me and…. well me – it’s a small staff) shift into a college prospect place. I will be doing a ton of draft coverage for, NFLDraftbible and various other outlets. So you’ll be seeing a ton of links over the next months as I tell you where to find what i am doing.

First up is the beginning of a series of articles for NFLDraftbible about Underclassmen who may apply to enter the draft – it’s called Decision Time. There will be a bunch of these by various writers over the next week to ten days, so make sure you check the site out often and not just when I link.

Most of my stuff is going to be on Pac-10 juniors – but there are many great writers covering the whole NCAA spectrum so head over there.

Here is my first piece on USC junior Safety Taylor Mays.

Ohio State @ USC –9/12/08 8pm EST

The biggest key to this game does not involve any one player. It involves them all. Especially on Ohio State’s side.

This is a big game – no THE big game. Big hype. Big press. Big spotlight.

Big Pressure.

Ohio State and USC have both been here before, in the big game. But while USC often succeeds on the big stage, OSU has dropped the ball in two straight National Championship games, getting completely blown out against Florida in 2007 and being soundly beaten by LSU last year.

Does that mean OSU cannot win? No, not by any means. In fact, this is a huge statement game for OSU. Coming into this season, many pundits believed OSU was coming of age. This was the year that their experience caught up with their talent – and they have tons of talent returning (19 starters returned). But after a perfect win against Youngstown State, they stumbled badly against the University of Ohio without Wells.

And as if things weren’t tough enough? OSU Coach Jim Tressel broke the news that Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells is out. Now considering how they did when Beanie-less against U of O, this could be very, very bad.

But if they can pull together – this could make their season.

Without Wells, the Buckeyes will need stellar play from several offensive players.

Ohio State quarterback Todd Boekman needs to step up at QB. He hasn’t thrown a ton in part because Wells played the first game and he didn’t have to. Last week Wells was out and the 16/26 for 110 yds and no TDs was nearly not enough. It won’t be enough against USC, and neither will the 187 yds vs Youngstown . No Wells means the QB needs to step up in a way he hasn’t this season.

Terelle Pryor is a combination quarterback/running back with exceptional size and speed who USC probably hasn’t seen all that much of. He’s an explosive player but only saw a little action last week. They will need more from him, as well as Maurice Wells and Brandon Saine. But Pryor brings a whole different dimension.

The defense will need to lock it down harder than they did last week. Against U of O, they allowed 9 of 17 3rd downs to be converted, and against USC that will hurt the team badly. They are an incredibly solid group of veterans and one assumes they will review the tape and make their adjustments. James Laurinaitis brings a huge amount of energy and excitement to the middle linebacker position and is the rock this defense is built on. He and Marcus Freeman at the weakside linebacker position will make USC earn every inch on the ground. Malcolm Jenkins is a big, athletic corner who will make the USC receivers work. But much of the rest of the secondary is mismatched in size and USC could take advantage of this to loosen the defense up for the run game. But overall it’s a very good veteran defensive squad that can play and play hard.

Problem is, where do they start with USC?

Trojan quarterback Mark Sanchez will need to continue his solid play and limit mistakes. OSU is not Virginia. They are a team with more experience and will make it harder on Sanchez, as well as wide receivers Ronald Johnson and Damian Williams. But even when flushed from the pocket, Sanchez showed great poise against Virginia and proved to be just as dangerous.

Unlike the perceived drop off on OSU from Wells to the #2 back, USC’s running backs roll deep. If CJ Gable and Joe McKnight don’t repeat their week 1 stats, Stafon Johnson or Allen Bradford will step up. But no one back seems to have that game changing WOW factor Wells has. The squad as a whole can be productive, but none of the backs have taken over a game the way a Wells or departed SC running back Reggie Bush could. In a pinch, there is no home run hitter to dig them out of a hole and automatically spark the offense.

The Buckeyes will have to tie down the run game and keep Sanchez pressured to keep things close.

The USC defense touts some fantastic players as well, like Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing. It will be up to them to contain the OSU run game and pressure Boekman into making mistakes. If he does – or if a running back breaks past the linebackers and defensive line, USC’s secondary will make them pay. Josh Pinkard has moved to Safety and joined Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison to form a huge, intimidating corner group.

Ohio State will be hard pressed to make too much headway unless they can get both the run and pass games rolling and rolling strong.

Beanie Wells OUT says ESPN

Now I always say to take everything in a big game with a grain of salt. But ESPN is reporting that Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells is OUT for tomorrow’s tilt against the University of Southern California.

Tressel broke the news Friday afternoon after the team went through a 40-minute walkthrough at the Coliseum.

From the article:

“He’s been getting treatment 15 times a day,” Tressel told the assembled media just minutes after he told his team of the decision. “I guess if looks could kill he fought me. I just told the team because it’s important our guys know what we thought we should do.”

“He worked so hard, but my job is to keep his best interests at heart,” Tressel told ESPN’s Joe Schad.

Huge blow to OSU. Can they overcome it? I think they can – but it just got REAL tough.

More on the OSU/USC tilt a little later.

Beanie Wells Questionable?

Reports have surfaced that Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells is doubtful for Saturday night’s tilt against the #1 ranked Trojans.

This from the article on NBCSports:

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel says it’s doubtful that starting tailback Chris “Beanie” Wells will play Saturday night against top-ranked Southern California.

Tressel said Thursday there was lingering soreness for Wells in his right foot after he worked out the night before. Wells did not practice with the team Thursday morning.

Is this gamesmanship? Is Tressel going to throw out some smoke and steam? Who knows – I don’t think the SoCal Trojans are going to prepare any different than they did when they thought Wells was playing. Coach Carroll isn’t stupid. He knows how the game is played. Tressel knows how the game is played.

We’ll have to see the next two days. But there is apart of me that feels strongly we’ll see Beanie Wells Saturday night.

A game this huge? Hard to believe he’ll miss it.

College Injury Note

For those of you not in Los Angeles, USC starting Qb Mark Sanchez was carted off the field today during practice.

The current diagnosis is a dislocated knee and he is considered Day To Day.

I currently have USC pretty high in my rankings and with Mitch Mustain waiting in the wings, I’m not changing it.

Most telling, the offense continued to practice with determination and efficiency despite losing their leader. That’s what you get when you have top athletes at a top program – they deal with adversity and move past it successfully.

That’s not to say they won’t have some issues. But good schools – USC, LSU, Texas, Ohio State – they get past even something like this.

USC may only be more motivated by it.