Former head coach Pete Carroll said, on the Dan Patrick Show today, he would be surprised if there are any sanctions imposed against the football team. This is an extremely optimistic position, as the pulse of the investigation seems to indicate some sort of impending punishment.
For a clue on what to expect, it might be prudent to look back to the NCAA sanctions imposed against the 2005 Oklahoma Sooners.
In 2005, three Sooner football players (including the starting quarterback) received money for alleged work at a car dealership, work they did not actually perform. In that incident the three players received approximately $17,000 in illegal payments. Despite the Sooners’ internal school remedy, kicking the offending players off the team, the NCAA later vacated all wins from their 2005 season (including their bowl win), imposed two years of probation, loss of two scholarships and future recruiting restrictions. That was for $17,000!
In the Bush scandal we’re looking at over $100,000 in potential illegal benefits. Not to mention the Bush investigation was combined with the probe into illegal payments made to basketball star OJ Mayo, some allegedly by former coach Tim Floyd himself. It’s true, USC imposed sanctions upon last season’s basketball program in hopes of offering a sacrificial lamb to save the flock. But this act of contrition will likely only soften the impending NCAA blow.
While Carroll’s “surprise” may be indication of his naivety to the corruption under his watch, he’s more likely trying to protect himself from future backlash. Too skeptical, right? I know, all the man has to lose are his only two National Championships and the record of being the most successful coach in college football. That’s a pretty damn good reason as any to think positive.
But there’s a silver lining to the whole situation. Following the sanctions, Oklahoma promptly appealed the vacating of its wins and six months later got them reinstated by the NCAA. So even if the doomsday scenario does occur, there’s a chance USC’s legal and athletic department can set the record straight.
Until then USC can only hold its breath and wait for the little men behind the gridiron curtain to rear their heads and deliver the fate of the 2010 season.