Posts Tagged ‘NCAA’

USC Running Back Dillon Baxter Claims Illegal Contact By Schools

June 12th, 2010

Well, that certainly didn't take long.

Only a day after the NCAA lowered the boom on USC, the vultures are attempting to circle the carcass.

ESPN's Joe Schad is reporting that USC mega-recruit, running back Dillon Baxter, has notified the Trojans' compliance office that five schools have illegally contacted him, apparently attempting to woo him to their programs.

Alabama, Florida, Fresno State, Oregon, and Washington are the teams identified as making overtures to Baxter, the 2009 five-star (as rated by quarterback/running back who set a California state record by scoring an eye-popping 79 touchdowns, including 50 on the ground.

Baxter, whose spring practice with the Trojans routinely featured spectacular runs that were celebrated far and wide on "Youtube," is generally considered a "can't miss" prospect by most who see him, so it's not surprising that he would be coveted by other programs.

What is surprising, or perhaps I am gullible, is that so many programs who should know better took a shot at contacting a student-athlete whom they had no chance of getting.

Before I go any further, it should be noted that this is a preliminary report and when everything comes out, perhaps this contact was not illegal at all.

If so, then the question becomes one of decorum.

Is there a "waiting period" before another college football program attempts to steal from a weakened foe?

Can one call Dear Abby to see if any college gridiron etiquette has been violated?

For the five programs identified by Baxter, apparently that grace period lasted all of 24 hours.

If that.

In a sad commentary on the state of college athletic ethics, USC hadn't even yet picked itself off the floor after the NCAA hay-maker before opposing programs began to swoop in hoping to pick clean the Trojans of a high profile prospect.

To Dillon Baxter's credit, it appears that he wasn't having any of that, and by reporting these programs to his compliance office, Baxter said in no uncertain terms that he plans on remaining a Trojan.

Take that you blood suckers.

Before any other programs start looking to speed dial Seantrel Henderson, Robert Woods, or any of the other highly regarded incoming USC freshmen trying to sweet talk them into a back door transfer, they may want to revisit what happened with Dillon Baxter.

It may save them the embarrassment of what at worst could be illegal contact and at best an emphatic "no" from the player in question.

Where this goes from here is anyone's guess but it seems as though there is a bit of karma at play here, especially if this contact was indeed illegal.

And while it won't soothe the open wounds of a reeling USC football program, maybe it will give them something else to think about for awhile.

Lord knows they could use that right about now.



USC To NCAA: “Alabama, Florida, Others Cheating!”

June 12th, 2010

The day after USC’s football (and basketball) program faced some of the NCAA’s most severe punishment, short of the death penalty—following a four year probe into improper benefits for 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush and former "once and done" basketball player O.J. Mayo—Matt Billings, USC’s Director of Compliance, claims that five universities have improperly contacted Freshmen RB Dillon Baxter to gauge his interest in transferring in light of USC’s probation.

If true, which at least two institutions, Florida and Oregon, have already denied, five more schools—Alabama, Fresno State, Washington, as well as the afore mentioned Florida, and Oregon—could be facing some NCAA questioning of their own.

Since Baxter is already enrolled at USC as a full-time student he could only transfer if he is willing to sit out a year.

Moreover, any contact with other institutions MUST be initiated by the student (NCAA rule 14.5.2).

Upperclassmen—juniors and seniors—may be contacted by other schools according to an email from NCAA spokeswomen Stacey Osburn sent to ESPN’s Joe Schad.

However, the new school would have to request a waiver to the ‘"year in residence" clause but the NCAA rules allow for the waiver if a student-athlete's first school has a postseason ban in their sport.

The "fly in the ointment" is that the Pac-10 does not intend to allow the waiver if the athlete is transferring to another Pac 10 school according to

The offending institutions could play dumb and say they thought the waiver could be applied to all USC athletes, but that would be about as believable as Lane Kiffin claiming that he didn’t initiate any contact with Tennessee players or recruits when he was employed by USC, and on his way off of the riotous Knoxville campus back in January.

So, is this poetic justice or just another case (or five) of thuggery and skull-duggery in college football?

With the pillaging of the Big XII and other conferences under way, the back stabbing and rivalry busting that is inevitable in the superconference debate and USC’s beat down by the NCAA; these accusations may be flying under the radar.

Nonetheless, if true the NCAA needs to make an example of these schools.

The severity of the actions and penalties may not compare to USC’s crimes but they too should face appropriate sanctions.

If they are not true then Baxter, or whoever put him up to the false report, should face further sanctions.

Someone is lying, let’s just hope it doesn’t take the boys at the (NCAA) home office in Indianapolis another four years to get to the bottom of it!

Sources:'s Mark Saxon, ESPN's Joe Schad, Bleacher Report’s Lisa Horne.

Notre Dame Football: A Week in Review

June 12th, 2010

Although there is a lot of buzz going on surrounding Notre Dame, there isn't much news.

In other words, I'm not going to bore my readers with what many have read a thousand times, as well as what is nothing more than speculation about expansion.  

When Notre Dame definitively decides what it is going to do, or when an actual seismic shift comes about in conference realignment, I'll be sure to give you my take.

But for now, with Nebraska going to the Big Ten and Colorado going to the Pac-10, we have what is closer to a rumble in the guy next to you's stomach than an earthquake throughout the conferences.  

Here is the week in review of Notre Dame football:


USC Sanctioned

We all know the sanctions, and the strict sentence the NCAA gave the Trojans will only help Notre Dame in a lot of different ways.

It's too bad for Weis he wasn't around to reap the benefits of a team that cheated him out of what could have been a career-saving win.  

In midst of all this scandal, I've come to a completely new revelation about Notre Dame. I've realized something perhaps even Irish Fan has yet to discover.

Besides independence, gold helmets, and being the only D-1 Catholic (non-Jesuit mind you) football-playing university, Notre Dame has something utterly unique to its football program and fan base most schools don't have.  

An ability to come up with nicknames for their rivals. 

USCheats, scUM, Catholics vs. Convicts, USCum, PurDon't.  The list goes on, and it's a list I'm not familiar with in its entirety, but would read through cover to cover faster than a Dan Brown novel.  

I have a feeling, if published, the list might sell more copies as well.  (That's an open invitation to leave your personal creations and favorites in the comment box, but please, keep them as clean as possible).  

Pretty much every game Notre Dame plays has a history of a rivalry.  Whether it's Pitt, Michigan, USC, Michigan State, there's always a story line.

I have to give it to Irish Fan though, from the rivalry came creativity.  From creativity came another unique aspect about an already very unique nation of fans.


Kelly's Good At Recruiting

Although Weis wasn't the greatest at developing the talent he pulled in, if you have to give one thing to the old coach, it's that he pulled in that talent.'s Pete Sampson wrote a piece comparing the two coaches in their recruiting endeavors.  The opinion of Sampson?  They're both equal in that spectrum of coaching. 

Which is great news for the future of Notre Dame football, as Weis was year in and year out one of the best recruiters in the nation, and Kelly has proven over and over to be one of the greatest developers of talent.  

Put those two together, and success will surely follow.  


Chinedum Ndukwe Interview

In an interview with South Bend radio station 960 AM, the former Irish defensive back and now very successful Cincinnati Bengal was asked about his opinion on the conference expansion talk surrounding his Alma Mater and what he thinks the Irish should do.  

His response: "There's no way in the world I would ever support Notre Dame joining any type of conference...I'm definitely not a proponent of Notre Dame joining a conference."

When asked about new head coach Brian Kelly, Ndukwe responded that he felt the coach was exactly what the University needed right now.  

For someone who spends his time in the city where coach Kelly just came from, Ndukwe's comment is worth quite a lot. 


NCAA Academic Progrees Rate (APR)

Saving the best news for last and perhaps the most important: once again, the Irish football team succeeded quite well in the NCAA's APR.  

The APR is, as the Notre Dame Official Athletic Site states: "a real-time look at a team's academic success each semester by tracking the academic progress of each student-athlete. The APR includes both retention at institution and academic eligibility in its calculation and provides a clear picture of the academic culture in each sport.

The Irish football team was given a rating of a 974 out of a possible 1,000 for their four year average.  

In other sports, eight Irish athletic teams got a perfect score, leaving them in second place for the most perfect scores for a Football Bowl Subdivision school.  The first place winner was Duke with 10.  

USC Football: Pete Carroll Brought College Football To the People

June 12th, 2010


While the recent ruling by the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions has tarnished Pete Carroll’s legacy, in the minds of many, this writer included, Pete Carroll remains one of the all-time great coaches in college football.

What Carroll did in his nine years at USC was nothing less than phenomenal.  He took a losing program that was lethargic and unmotivated and pumped his own dynamic brand of energy into the entire program from the returning players to new recruits.

He made Carson Palmer a Heisman Trophy winner and positioned the Trojans to go on and win two national championships, seven consecutive PAC-Ten Championships and make seven consecutive BCS Bowl appearances. 

Carroll also made Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush Heisman Trophy winners and had the Trojans nationally ranked in the Top Four over seven consecutive seasons.

While the NCAA can vacate 14 of USC’s victories including one National Championship, they cannot remove the memories of those victories and the glory years under Carroll.

Some have called him arrogant, mostly out of jealousy.  His celebrity status, that included appearances on shows such as “60 Minutes” and on the covers of national magazines, offended many in the ranks of the NCAA as well as sports writers and other pundits, who feel that college coaches should not have such close rapport with their players or be able to relate with these young men on their own level.

They were offended by a coach who spent some of his spare time surfing in the Pacific on a boogie board or cavorting with celebrities in the locker room to the amusement of his players.

In short, these are the misanthropes who are offended by anyone who truly seizes life, living it to the fullest and daring not to care what the NCAA, ESPN, Bill Plaschke or Scott Wolf think about it.

But neither Pete Carroll’s coaching success nor his celebrity status are anything compared to his true legacy – the legacy that he brought to even the most common and underprivileged of us.

Pete Carroll brought college football to the people.  Not just the undergraduates and alumni who are intelligent and fortunate enough to secure a college education.  But to people who have never been in college and many who have not even been to high school.

He made the USC Trojans everyone’s team, the team of the people. 

The NCAA is punishing USC (and perhaps deservedly so, I will not be the judge) for this, which is Pete Carroll’s greatest legacy.

USC is being punished because Pete Carroll had such enthusiasm for the game of football and for the young men that he coached that he opened the doors of Howard Jones Field to everyone, young and old, rich or poor, educated or not.

He showed all of us how football was played from the ground up.  From the conditioning drills, to the fundamentals, to the seven-on-sevens, to the special team drills, to the intrasquad scrimmages.

Pete Carroll made football fun for all of us, even those of us who never knew what a seven-on-seven drill was.

He allowed groups of school children and the handicapped and the underprivileged from South Central Los Angeles to come and watch his Trojans' train and meet some of their Saturday heroes afterward.

And Carroll, himself, always had time for a kind word, a pat on the head or an autograph for every youngster who approached him after practice even as a horde of reporters clung to him like bees to a hive.

Maybe the nectar of life that one such as Pete Carroll exudes is much like honey, both attractive and invigorating.

But not only did Carroll bring the people to Howard Jones Field, he brought his philosophy and sometimes his players to the people of South Central Los Angeles.

Carroll started an organization known as A Better L.A. to rebuild the lives of young men that have been devastated by gang violence.  He set up classes to re-educated and inspire these youths and encouraged employers to give them opportunities to make a new life.

In short, Carroll’s organization is turning the nightmare of gang violence into a dream of new possibilities for many families in this underserved community.  He brought hope where there was none before.

But along with the good, often comes some bad.  And the NCAA as well as the pundits have chosen to focus on the few greedy bastards who saw a way to make a fast buck by preying on young superstars and enticing them to break the rules.

The NCAA looked upon those crowds of common people, many of whom had no attachments whatsoever to USC, standing on the sidelines of Howard Jones Field and focused on the fact that a few sports agents or their representatives could get close to these young men whose amateur status the NCAA must protect at all costs.

They were appalled that Mike Garrett and his staff allowed those doors to Howard Jones Field to remain open to anyone who wanted to stop by and watch a USC practice.

Well, those doors are now forever closed and Pete Carroll’s legacy tarnished as a result of a couple unscrupulous criminals and one star athlete who put his own greed and his family’s above his school, his team and the common people of Los Angeles.

But let us all be thankful, for we can sleep peacefully at night knowing that the NCAA is protecting the amateur status of all its student-athletes.  Not through seeking legislation to revoke licenses of sports agents and institute prison sentences for tampering with student-athletes or revoking the NBA’s right to sign student-athletes after only one semester of education – but by punishing USC.

Sounds like a good plan, but I wonder if it can go seven consecutive years without a violation anywhere in Division 1 sports.  In the meantime, I’ll put Pete Carroll’s legacy above anything the NCAA can do or say.

USC’s Sanctions Extreme, Unjust: Media Coverage Biased, Ignores NCAA’s Wrongs

June 12th, 2010

I get it.

I understand that fans of other major programs out there do not like USC. We have star power, swagger, academic excellence, and the city of Los Angeles.

We are the golden child of the Pac-10.

I don't blame other programs for disliking us, either. Heck, I went to USC for school telling myself I would never become a Trojan football fan. I didn't want to turn my back on my own football history.

There is just something spectacular about being at USC that forces you to love it. People sense that, and they don't like us for it.

So when I read all of these extreme media reports about, "Oh! USC got off light," I am somewhat taken aback at first. How could anyone possibly think that?

The first issue is that no punishment, aside from retroactive stripping of wins, would fit this crime. That is because the people who committed the wrongdoing have been gone for a very, very long time.

The NCAA's postseason ban is akin to the United States government giving Mark Sanchez the death penalty because O.J. Simpson killed people.

At some point, the governing body has to admit it missed the window for justice. The NCAA dragged along on this for four years...there should be a statute of limitations on penalties.

What the heck did any of the kids who are currently at USC do wrong?

Isn't that ultimately what college football is about? These student athletes are getting punished without having done anything wrong, and that makes the NCAA the villain here, folks. If you can forget your dislike for USC, and imagine that it was your program instead, you would be furious.

The other issue here is that the punishment is because one player, Reggie Bush, took some money for his family from a shady sports agent. Because of that, the NCAA thinks it should invalidate the past performance of USC teams.

My first question is what does Reggie Bush getting money have to do with the performance of the USC football team? That team was spectacular, and it played a good amount of ball. Reggie Bush getting money didn't change that. The punishment isn't even related to the crime.

And believe me, USC isn't the only program in the country to have had a star player receive improper benefits. It is happening all over the country—constantly—at every major program.

Reggie just got caught because USC is under a media microscope.

It is hilarious how quickly the ESPN fan squad can go from kissing Pete Carroll's feet to writing him hate mail. Hello, ESPN, send out a memo: You are a bunch of hypocrites.

But at the same time, what Reggie did really isn't wrong.

The NCAA made millions of dollars off of Reggie Bush, and it isn't forfeiting any of it, so what is the big issue with making money? This is America, and college football isn't a small time scheme anymore, people. It has turned into a big business. He got some money so his family could live in L.A.

In an abstract sense, the NCAA is condemning the existence of capitalism, with a bunch of extreme punishments that have absolutely nothing to do with the past.

This is like saying, "OK, Pete Carroll and Reggie Bush, we didn't catch you while you were there, but we're going to penalize everyone who is there now!"

The NCAA failed to bring justice when it had the chance, so instead it is bringing more injustice. It doesn't make sense to any rational, thoughtful person.

It would be like the United States attacking Japan today and justifying it with Pearl Harbor. All responsible parties who were involved at the time are now gone.

This sets a dangerous precedent for college football, because it gives the NCAA blanket control over space-time.

No one should have that kind of power.

If fans would put away their passionate resentment of USC, only for a moment, they could see how undeniably unjust the NCAA's rulings actually are.

They would be able to see how at risk their own programs are to this kind of judicial insanity.

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