The NCAA USC Report: Reading Between The Lines

Robert BarnesContributor IJune 10, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 01:  Head coach Lane Kiffin looks on during the  USC Trojans spring game on  May 1, 2010 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The NCAA is not the NFL, but Pete Carroll tried to make it so. When Carroll arrived at SC, coming off a period of marked mediocrity for a program with so much local talent, he rebranded the program the little NFL. The problem was how far he went in doing so—kids caught taking steroids (from the Tingo brothers to those not caught that also went through extraordinary physical changes, before getting caught in their first year in the NFL—see Brian Cushing), kids with felony arrests reinstated quickly (what's a little attempted rape between friends?), and now the NCAA scandal, a scandal they managed to document without subpoena power and despite an extended effort at deception by SC players, SC coaches, and continued denial by SC staff. As Lane Kiffin aptly surmised, SC felt, and feels, above the law—they are "extremely powerful" after all, as Kiffin reminded everyone after the sanctions were announced.

So what really happened between the lines of the NCAA report?
Substitute the world of booster corruption with the world of agent/marketer/"promoter"/runner corruption.

1) Retain a host of recruiters known for their lack of an ethical compass, like Orgeron (part of the Miami staff that landed Miami on probation in the 90's), McNair (a convicted felon for his Vick-like affection for canines), and Lane Kiffin (who managed to get Tennessee under public investigation in barely a year on campus for trying to reduce the hostess program to just the first two letters of the word);

2) Embrace and invite dubious agents and marketers into the program's inner sanctuary, at the practice field, on the sidelines, and in the locker room, like convicted fraudster and felon Mike Ornstein, friends of friends like the now infamous Bush agents, and the rap marketer/would-be agent likely responsible for two of the highest profile murders in America and whose corruption of the LAPD led to the Ramparts scandal (Suge Knight);

3) Demand the convicted felon fraudster, now NFL talent marketer, Ornstein, hire your best players as summer "interns," encourage your coaches and players to attend NFL parties with such types, and assign your most ethically challenged recruiter to recruit some of your most important high school prospects;   

4) Demand a compliant compliance department that ignores every conceivable red flag, from car registration reports where kids from lower income homes report new $20K SUVs without even explaining on the report where it came from, ignoring players arriving in limos at parties attended by your coaches, or players living in $4,000 condos with no evident income, their girlfriends suddenly driving nice cars with nice jobs from some of the same promoter types, and ignore media inquiries that highlight issues and concerns over and over; and

5) Lie, lie and lie some more when the NCAA comes calling, even to the point of lying about demanding marketers hire your players as "interns," lying about Bush taking benefits (when everyone knew by that time), and the lead recruiter you hired as your assistant lying about knowing agent/promoters he is photographed with, went to a club with, and took phone calls again and again to and from in easily documented form, even for the subpoena-less NCAA.

The NCAA made clear again this week that the NCAA is not the NFL, but why would Carroll care? He's back to the NFL with million dollar paychecks to thank for his time at SC, as is Reggie Bush. Only the game of college football—and a scarred decade dominated by an illicit program—suffers the punishment.