• Trojans speak! Three years in, Southern Cal finally issued its first public statement on the ongoing investigation into the Reggie Bush/O.J. Mayo illegal benefits scandals, sending athletic director Mike Garrett and another administrator online to say nothing in particular. "Video statements" from the pair produced the following revelations:
• "We have no idea how long this investigation will continue."
• "No one is more anxious to bring this process to a conclusion than we are."
• "We take these allegations very seriously."
• "What we have to protect is the integrity of the athletic department."
One item not lifted straight from Damage Control 101: "About 50 people" have been interviewed by the NCAA and/or the Pac-10, with USC officials sitting in on every one except a few "from which we were excluded" by the request/demand of certain accusers.
As usual, leave the public speaking to Pete Carroll, who faced the boosters Wednesday without his usual stage partner, disgraced basketball coach Tim Floyd:
"This is me saying nothing," Carroll said … Then his trademark candor slipped through: "I noticed, no basketball highlights tonight."
I mean, you can’t expect the Humanitarian to just say nothing.
• Bruins, however, will wear nothing. Meanwhile, across town, the L.A. Times’ Adam Rose was on the ground Wednesday night, inside yet another reason you should have ponied up for out-of-state tuition — UCLA’s traditional Undie Run:
Man, even the obvious nerds in L.A. are kind of cut. Maybe I should stop buying Bud Light for all my meetings …
• Victory from retroactive defeat. Rubbernecking back to the violation beat: As expected, the NCAA officialized the probation/vacated wins rap against Alabama Thursday, eliciting either shrugs, frustration or minor hand-wringing across the board. (No one says, "Awesome job, NCAA.") Former Tide players may have been "shocked" to have their triumphs wiped from the books, but generally, if the sanctions aren’t exactly a good thing, it is clear that they don’t affect Alabama’s ability to compete going forward.
The Birmingham News’ Tide blog details the 21 ‘Bama wins that are now losses (at least until the inevitable appeal). That same post also provides the quote of the day, in which commenter "Alabama 88" sums up the real headline as far as most Tiders are concerned:
Big deal. No scollies lost….. Bad news for the Barnies. No vacating ANY wins vs. AUA.
Indeed, because Alabama didn’t have ANY wins vs. Auburn during the years in question, on the field or in the books. Leave it to Iron Bowl hatreds to respond to news of victory turned to defeat by turning completely unrelated defeats into victory. What a country!
But my favorite reaction to the NCAA’s fluffy hammer this week comes from the Boulder Daily Camera’s Neill Woelk, who actually references the following scene from the 1971 quasi-classic "Big Jake" as his model for a new era of "frontier justice" by the NCAA:
Contrast Woelk’s pent-up vengeance with the slightly more laid-back response to departmental scandal by the Miami Herald’s Joseph Goodman, who sums up Florida’s legal woes thusly:
You’ve got to have thugs to win football games.
Generational and geographical gaps, will your wonders never cease?
• Just doing a little field work. I’m sure it’s only a coincidence that, just hours after Goodman’s column went online, Miami native and Ohio State signee Jamaal Berry, maybe the most celebrated Buckeye in OSU’s incoming class, decided to put the theory to test:
Berry, an incoming freshman running back who turned 18 on May 22, was arrested early yesterday in his hometown of Miami, according to court records. He was charged with possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana.
The charge is a third-degree felony, the least serious under Florida law, and is punishable by up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Twenty grams isn’t quite Ramonce Taylor territory, but it is a lot. If Berry avoids the more serious penalties, he’s still likely to miss the start of OSU’s summer quarter (in which freshman usually enroll) and spent his first year, at least, deep inside Jim Tressel’s doghouse.
Quickly … A pair of Washington State freshmen were arrested — though not yet charged — on suspicion of stealing a pair of bicycles, as well as the hacksaw they used to cut them free. … Florida’s attorney general’s office complains that the NCAA’s secrecy in response to a Florida State appeal violates state law. … Incoming defensive end Justin Chaisson, who had felony charges for allegedly holding a screwdriver to his girlfriend’s neck and throwing her in a car reduced to misdemeanors last month, is listed on Oklahoma’s pre-camp roster. … Jake Locker is a quarterback for now, but may sign with the L.A. Angels to secure a future in baseball. … Meanwhile, Locker’s coach nailed the NCAA’s recruiting exam (again.) … Mark Richt clams up. … Tennessee receiver Gerald Jones goes under the knife. … Here’s a scheduling idea that should trickle up: I-AA powers Appalachian State, McNeese State and Montana have agreed to six-game, home-and-home round robin through 2017. … And it looks fun, but it’s really tough growing up Samoan.