The NCAA has an Institutional Control Issue of Their Own

We have discussed numerous time how the punishment the NCAA handed down doesn’t fit the crime.

I know it comes off as whining as my friend Pete Holiday has said numerous times over at Roll ‘Bama Roll…yeah well we all have our own crosses to bear.

As much as I like Pete and Kleph as well as others over there, I really could not care less what any fan base in the south thinks… I mean it’s not like they are objective or squeaky clean. And as for what the red-headed step kids from across town keep harping about…well, OK, I hope all that hate keeps you guys warm in the winter.

Obsess much?

Anyway…

Part of the NCAA’s problem is that they make the rules on the fly. There is no guidance form the NCAA as to just how certain things should be. They simply don’t evolve with the changing times.

The NCAA seemed to take issue with USC’s open practices. Why? There is nothing in the rule book that states that open practices are against the rules. There is no rule that says that any athletic practices have to be closed to the public.There is no bylaw stating who can or cannot be on the sidelines at practice or the games. The school can certainly monitor access and make determinations as to who should or should not be on the sidelines. Is there a rule stating different that we are unaware of?

Neither of USC’s “agent problems” WRT Bush and Mayo stemmed from Pete Carroll’s policies of having open practices…

Both the Bush and Mayo situations stemmed from agents, their runners, marketing reps or ambitious would-be agents who sold their snake oil away from USC, not on the sidelines of Howard Jones field or at the Coliseum. The Ornstein part of the case is clearly an issue that USC should have monitored better because the internship was officially sanctioned by the school. But Lake, Michaels, Guillory and by extension Bill Duffy weren’t on the sidelines or on campus making contact that threatened the eligibility of the very players the NCAA is supposedly looking out for.

Is the NCAA implying that having Snoop Dog, Suge Knight, and Will Farrell or any other celebrities at practice and/or at games helped USC? Do they really think that open practices gave USC an unfair advantage??

They can’t be serious.

Or that naive.

I mean after all, the open practices and celebrity atmosphere led to exactly ZERO NCAA violations…

The NCAA already looks foolish with their high profile athletes demand high profile monitoring message…I mean is that in the bylaws as well? The NCAA bylaws themselves do not require “constant, heightened and specific vigilance” on one player over others. That is profiling in its most rudimentary form and we as a society have a difficult time swallowing that pill…just ask the state of Arizona.

The NCAA is playing the role of a renegade judge legislating from the bench…they are changing the rules on the fly in order to protect what little control they have left.

As I have said before, the NCAA has very little ability or interest to expand and modernize in order to keep up with, let alone meet the ever increasing monetary value of college football head on. They have even less power over the influence of media and corporate interests. They take what they can get but they really are at a disadvantage. What the NCAA does do, is hold on to it’s perverse and idealistic notion of “The student athlete”. It really is all they can hold onto, it is the last brick in the wall they will fight to protect in order to keep from being exposed as seriously outdated and corrupt.

When Pete Carroll came to USC, he changed the culture of college football. From the practices, to the energy, to recruiting, to the playbook, to coaching structure and to execution. Remember former Nebraska Head Coach Bill Callahan saying he wanted to run his program just like USC?

When they weren’t hating us they sure as hell wanted to emulate us…

There was nothing like it in all of college football upon his arrival. No program past or present made the strides that Pete Carroll and USC did in increasing the level of exposure for a program and its players in such a short amount of time.

However there is one thing Pete Carroll did above all else and that was to treat the players as if the were majoring in football and that the program was a prep school for the NFL, which is, in all reality, closer to the truth. While many “student athletes” have taken advantage of the academic opportunities to better themselves, most players that came to USC have aspired to raise their personal stock through the football program. You think Kevin Love or Jrue Holiday were any different across town? Nope, they were just more open with their priorities and responsibilities.

Pete Carroll nurtured an environment of NFL celebrity. From the practices, schemes, conditioning regimens and even the coaching staff he assembled year in and year out, Pete Carroll was all about making football players ready for the next level. He even arranged for Mike Ornstein to prepare the players for the legal life of an NFL player by exposing them to how to negotiate deals and contracts and put them in a position to think for themselves. Of course WRT Ornstein the school didn’t monitor it well at all and that is part of the mess we see the program in now, but the good intention in looking out for the players and their possible NFL futures was there.

This is what scared the living daylights out of the NCAA. They were not prepared for this. Oh sure, Paul Dee had seen something like it before with Jimmy Johnson at Miami, but nothing like this. Go see the ESPN 30 in 30 documentary on The U…Outside influences at Miami were rampant in their heyday…

Once the players realized that they were football players first and students second, the flood gates were opened and it threatened the NCAA’s arcane ideal of the amateur.

That put a target on USC’s chest.

There is no evidence, let alone proof, that open practices and open sidelines led to a culture of corruption at USC. If the NCAA has such a problem with it then change the Bylaws. If the NCAA thinks schools need to have a minimum number of compliance personnel then they should spell it out in the rule book or in the Bylaws. How is it the schools problem if the NCAA is ambiguous on the level of compliance only to then hammer the school when they don’t have enough compliance personnel, especially when you move the goal posts about specific players needing specific monitoring.

The NCAA has never laid out any specific guidelines about specific issues as the game and the environment surrounding the game have changed.

The NCAA is so out of touch that they let the NBA pick their pockets with the one and done rule. They let David Stern control the environment that forced players to go to school for a year when they didn’t want to and did nothing about protecting the environment that the schools are forced to live in. They could have easily done some horse trading with the NBA to at least try to protect their product.

Here are a couple of ideas from a guy I have a ton of respect for

Two things the NCAA could implement today that would severely stem the tide of all this nonsense.

1) Mandate in every scholarship agreement that the student athletes future wages can/will be garnished, if intentional wrongdoing is proven, and the University suffers financial loss because of their actions.

If the schools are worried about a possible negative impact on recruiting, structure the agreement to allow the NCAA to recover lost wages on behalf of one of their member schools. That makes them the bad guy, and serves as a disincentive to athletes with a wandering eye.

2) The NCAA needs to throw their collective legal resources at these agents/runners/wannabes, and go after them criminally or civilly. In states where there aren’t laws on the books making this illegal, they could use their clout to have that changed. Perhaps even federal legislation, if possible.

California currently has a law on the books that makes what Lake/Michaels/Ornstein did illegal. The minute the NCAA realized these three broke laws, they should have taken swift and decisive action against them on behalf of one of their member schools.

Seems like they were more intent on sending a message to the other member schools, by getting tough on USC, than they were on sending any message to the agents.

The implied message they continue sending to agents is one of indifference…so what motivation do they currently have to cease and desist?

If you don’t make the risk greater than the reward, agents and especially young athletes have little incentive to change.

The NCAA can’t see the forest through the trees…

They would rather hammer their member institutions over infractions that can be be avoided if they just worked a little harder at getting into the 21st century.

Sadly, the NCAA is all about control yet it is clear that they lack any control when it comes actually working with their member institutions…they only care about control only when it benefits them.

And that is a damn shame!



Football weekender info

If you’re going on the road this year to watch the Trojan football team play, here is the official information from the USC Alumni Association about the 2010 USC Football Weekenders.

Included are details about the alumni host hotels (with special USC rates), pep rallies and other events surrounding each game.

USC’s 2010 road schedule:  Sept. 2 at Hawaii, Sept. 18 at Minnesota, Sept. 25 at Washington State, Oct. 9 at Stanford, Nov. 13 at Arizona and Nov. 20 at Oregon State.  The Dec. 4 game against UCLA in the Rose Bowl isn’t included among the weekender info because it’s basically in town.

Football. USC-Arizona State Football Kickoff Set For 7:30 p.m.

The kickoff time for USC’s Nov. 6 home football game against Arizona State has been set for 7:30 p.m. Pacific and it will be shown live nationally on FSN, bringing the total to 11 of the Trojans’ 13 games with set start times in 2010. Kick times and televising networks for USC’s 2 remaining 2010 contests–Sept. 25 at Washington State and Dec. 4 at UCLA–will be determined 2 weeks prior to each game.

Sam Cunningham Elected to College Football Hall of Fame

SC52810.jpg

Former USC full back, Sam Cunningham, is a new member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Cunningham played at USC from 1970 – 1972. He won a national championship and was an All-American in 1972. He scored 4 touchdowns in the 1973 Rose Bowl defeating Ohio State Sucks 42-17 and was Rose Bowl MVP.

Cunningham is most famous for his performance against Alabama that convinced head coach Bear Bryant and others to integrate football in the South. Cunningham ran for 130 yards and scored two touchdowns in 12 carries in a 42-21 victory over the Crimson Tide in Birmingham, Ala.

Cunningham was drafted by the Patriots with the 11th pick in the first round of the 1973 draft and is the older brother of former NFL QB Randall Cunningham.

Other notable members of this years HOF class include:

Pat Tillman–LB, Arizona State (1994-97)
Desmond Howard–WR, Michigan (1989-91)
Randy Cross–OG, FUCLA (1973-75)

Cunningham was on the Petros & Money show this week. Click here to listen to the interview.

Sam Cunningham was on PMS [PMS]
Alvarez, Stallings elected as coaches [espn]

Dispatch from Galen: Wear Twins Transferring, Polee Recruiting Follow-up, & Other Hoops Notes

Could the Wear twins follow the path of Alex Stepheson, who left North Carolina to return to Los Angeles to play USC? (Photo Credit: Dailyme.com)

Could the Wear twins follow the path of Alex Stepheson, who left North Carolina to return to Los Angeles to play USC? (Photo Credit: Dailyme.com)

I figured since most of the “big shot” bloggers had cool, witty names for their columns and articles, I might try and pretend to be in their exclusive fraternity by dubbing this USC Basketball News & Notes piece – “Dispatch from Galen.” One, it sounds cool. Two, dispatch is an underrated word (yes, I’m nerdy enough to call words overrated or underrated). And three, references to Galen are tight. So, if you combine these elements, you have a pretty trendy title. So, even in the midst of a painfully slow offseason here for Kevin O’Neill and company, we got some USC/College Basketball tidbits that you might want to keep in mind.

For one, the biggest shakeup in the Southern California college hoops scene is the expected transferring of twin North Carolina forwards Davis and Travis Wear. The Wears, Orange County natives who played high school basketball at Mater Dei in Santa Ana, may be looking to return to the west coast much like former North Carolina transfer Alex Stepheson, who ended up at USC. From the Los Angeles Times

David and Travis Wear, twin forwards who helped Santa Ana Mater Dei High win two state championships, are transferring from North Carolina and are expected to draw significant interest from UCLA.

The Wears, who are both 6 feet 10, will have three years of remaining eligibility. Both strongly considered UCLA and Arizona out of high school before signing with the Tar Heels.

North Carolina announced Thursday the Wears would transfer. Their father, David Sr., said he could not comment on potential landing places for his sons until North Carolina filed paperwork officially releasing them from their scholarships, but he added, “I would imagine UCLA would be interested.”

There’s no question that UCLA should be the favorite to land the twins. Historically speaking, there is no question that the Bruins are the premier college basketball program in the Pac-10, and when it comes to the tradition between the two schools, USC pales in comparison. But when it comes to recent results, there is a very small gap that exists between the two programs. The Trojans have posted three consecutive wins over the Bruins, who are also coming off just their third losing season since 1948. For two players who are citing “geographic reasons” for leaving North Carolina, they have to be considering ‘SC – at least on some level. After all, it’s important to note, that when they were actually considering committing to Arizona a few years back, Kevin O’Neill was the interim coach of the Wildcats. 

I have no problem with calling the Bruins the favorites to land the Wear twins, but at the same, there’s no reason to think that O’Neill and the Trojans don’t have the guns to haul in two big fish like the Wears as well. 

Even still, there are some doubts regarding what kind of impact the they can make, as the Mater Dei products had less than stellar first seasons in Chapel Hill. 

Travis, who weighs 235 pounds, averaged 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 32 games for the Tar Heels last season. David, who weighs 225, averaged 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds but missed the last five games with a hip injury. He should be 100% healthy in another month, his father indicated.

To make matters more complicated, it doesn’t appear as if the North Carolina faithful were exactly clamoring to keep them around on Tobacco Road. From the message board over at WeAreSC.com:

I am a recent Carolina graduate who will be attending USC for Graduate school in the fall and trust me you do not want them. This entire season they have shown a lack of post skills. They play like two over-sized, under-skilled small forwards, which makes them essentially useless. They’re too big to guard smaller players but lack the ability to post up big ones.  Essentially, all they could do at UNC was rebound and shoot 15-footers.

Nonetheless, could USC afford to not actively pursue two 6’10” big men with the ability to rebound and knock down 15-foot jump shots? Absolutely not. I don’t see why a rocky start should or would be any deterrent for O’Neill’s staff. Not every freshman has a banner year in his first season at a school.

Remaining on the topic of recruiting, former Trojan commit Dwayne Polee Jr. finally decided where he will be attending college, as the LA native will reportedly sign with St. John’s in the coming days. (On a side note, the combination of a former Trojan commit playing for Steve Lavin has to make him absolutely despised in Westwood.) From ZagsBlog.com:

New St. John’s coach Steve Lavin has landed his first recruit since taking over the Big East program.

Dwayne Poleean athletic 6-foot-7 wing from Los Angeles Westchester High School, chose the Johnnies over Georgia and Oregon, which he visited last weekend.

“Yes,” he wrote via text on Thursday. “It’s somewhere where I can focus on school and basketball.”

Described as “the best dunker in high school basketball,” Polee averaged 21 points and 8 rebounds last season when he led Westchester to the state championship. The Los Angeles Times named him City Player of the Year.

Polee is certainly a talented player who would have been a big addition at any school. But frankly, I’m a little surprised he chose to go to a school in the Big East. For one, it’s considered to be the premier conference in college hoops, and as a result, there are some doubts as to whether he can be a big-time star, which would have been a more likely occurrence in either the SEC at Georgia or in the Pac-10 at Oregon. But even still, I like to think I speak for all ‘SC fans when I wish him the best with Lavin and company. His future is still bright nonetheless.

In the meanwhile, as this long offseason continues, I’d like to also point out that both Kevin O’Neill and Lane Kiffin will be making stop at seven California cities this month as part of the USC coaches speaking tour. From USCTrojans.com:

The tour stops are: May 19 (Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena), May 20 (Hyatt Westlake Plaza in Westlake Village), May 24 (San Diego Marriott Del Mar), May 26 (Hyatt Regency Irvine), June 2 (Manhattan Beach Marriott), June 4 (Renaissance Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells) and June 10 (San Francisco Airport Marriott).

It’s a big difference from where things were a year ago, as last May, Pete Carroll and Tom Floyd, two incredibly charismatic and well-spoken guys, were making stops along the west coast to speak with boosters, alumni, and fans. Now, Trojan supporters will have the “privilege” of listening to O’Neill and Kiffin, who have never been incredibly well-regarded for their public speaking abilities. Not that either is inadequate, but neither really gets someone excited to throw down a bunch of money to listen to them talk. But even still, Kiffin may throw in a few UCLA digs, and it’s always fun to see how fast K.O. can get irked by something. If you’re interested, I hope you check it out.

Fight On!



So the BCS is telling the Mountain West there’s a chance … in 2012

The Big Ten, defying the hyperbole of the weekend, obstinately refused to feed the beast re: conference expansion Wednesday during the annual meeting of all 11 BCS conference commissioners in Arizona — the topic wasn’t on the formal agenda, and the official timetable hasn’t changed. But that didn’t mean the BCS itself couldn’t take an expansive outlook toward the immediate future where the Mountain West is concerned:

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP)—The Mountain West Conference has performed so well the last two seasons that it could receive an automatic bid to the BCS in the 2012 and ’13 seasons.

BCS executive director Bill Hancock was hesitant Wednesday to say the MWC, which has placed Utah and TCU in the Bowl Championship Series the last two seasons, was on course to become the seventh automatic qualifying conference.

But he did tell the conference commissioners and athletic directors gathered here this week for meetings that they should be aware of the strides the Mountain West has made toward earning an automatic bid.
[...]
"If they (the Mountain West Conference) meet the threshold, they’ll be the seventh," Hancock said, though he added the way the other conferences perform over the next two seasons influences that threshold.


The "threshold" is a four-year evaluation period (in this case, from 2008-11) that uses a mathematical formula to determine which conferences qualify for an automatic bid. This caveat in the system hasn’t gotten much attention over the last decade because none of the "Big Six" conferences that currently receiver automatic bids has been threatened with failing to meet the threshold, and none of the "mid-major" leagues on the outside has made a serious run at clearing the bar for inclusion. At its current pace, though, the MWC may not even be on the bubble when the bell tolls on the next round of BCS contract talks in 2012: Besides putting Utah and TCU in one of the big-money games, the league has put three teams (TCU, BYU and Utah) in the top 25 of the final BCS standings each of the last two years, with all three in the top 16 going into the bowls in 2008 and all three finishing in the AP’s final top 20 last year — more than the Pac-10, Big 12 and Big East. The MWC had the best bowl record last winter at 4-1, and has more than held its own against the major conferences overall.

That may or may not mean much compared to less flattering attendance and television numbers. A more cynical interpretation of Hancock’s remark is as a fig leaf for a member that almost backed out of the process altogether last summer, when the MWC only signed on to the Series’ new TV deal at the last second after having both its campaign for an automatic bid and its hopeless reform initiative summarily rejected by the other conferences. Another strong season on the field (not to mention just a little pressure from Capitol Hill) is good for a bit of a thaw from the BCS’ side when the decision is still two years out. We’ll see what it’s tune is then, if it doesn’t have bigger issues on its plate.

Opening the mailbag: Impressions of spring

Got bogged down on Friday, so this mailbag fermented over the weekend.

To the notes.

Jason from the Bay Area writes: So having seen most of the Pac-10 this spring, what are your impressions?

Ted Miller: Obviously, we’ll have more on this going forward with a spring wrapup, but here are some quick hits.

  • My top three remain: USC, Oregon and Oregon State.
  • Every team has significant questions. It doesn’t seem like there’s a national title contender.
  • USC’s defensive line is going to be strong, and I think the Trojans will again rank among the nation’s elite in defense in 2010.
  • That’s why I favor the Trojans at present. That and QB Matt Barkley appearing ready to take a significant step forward.
  • Washington’s offense is going to be very good if the O-line stays healthy.
  • UCLA’s and Arizona State’s offenses will be better.
  • Arizona is a top-25 team if it gets solid play at linebacker, but that’s a significant “if.”
  • Washington State is the clear choice for No. 10, but the Cougars will not be the patsies of 2008 and 2009.
  • You could throw Arizona, Arizona State, California, Stanford, UCLA and Washington into a hat and randomly pick their order and probably be as accurate as what you’ll read among preseason predictions from publications and pundits.

At this point, 2010 looks to be a black-and-blue season. Hard to imagine the eventual champion going undefeated in league play. Things might end up like last year, when the conference had a lot of ranked teams, just none near the top of the polls.

Scott from Palo Alto writes: Let’s put Andrew Luck in perspective to help jog readers’ memories… very few turnovers… back-to-back victories over Oregon and USC. Did we mention he was a mere freshman? I think you have to be amazed by Luck overall and I’m sorry but Stanford vs. Oregon was not a game for the defensive-minded. We put the pedal to the medal and outscored them when they were considered the hottest team around.

Ted Miller: No question Luck looks like a budding star after leading the Pac-10 in passing efficiency as a redshirt freshman. He looks, at this point, like a future first-round NFL draft pick. Perhaps a top-10 pick. Or higher.

We’ve already discussed the possibility of him and Jake Locker battling for the top spot in the 2011 NFL draft.

However — you knew that was coming — any quarterback will tell you having the nation’s best running back vexing a defense makes it easier to throw the ball. Toby Gerhart rushed for 1,871 yards and 28 TDs last fall. Every defender Luck threw against was leaning forward on its toes thinking one thing: “Gerhart… hope he runs to the other side.”

Luck is in luck that he’s got almost his entire receiving corps back and the Cardinal offensive line should again be solid. There is no reason he can’t be an elite QB in a conference loaded with elite QBs.

Still, don’t take for granted a blockbuster season. It’s possible that it will take time for the Cardinal offense to reinvent itself with Gerhart off the the NFL.

Nick from Washington D.C. writes: I have been a Duck fan for most of my life and growing up in Portland, it always felt like we were the dark horse… My question is this: Has Chip Kelly turned the corner? Even with all the haywire crazy that is the athletic department, are we now a legitimate year in year out contender?

Ted Miller: Oregon has won nine or more games six times over the past 10 seasons. And during that decade, it suffered only one losing season.

The Ducks are no longer darkhorses. They are perennial contenders, a second-tier power rating a step below programs such as Texas, USC, Florida and Ohio State.

If your question is will the Ducks make that next step and become an equal to those schools, my guess would be no, not on an annual basis.

Why? Start with population base. Those four schools have huge head starts in recruiting.

Moreover, what’s the common denominator for nearly all BCS football champions? Big Stadiums. The only team that won a BCS title that doesn’t play in front of home crowds of 80,000-plus is Miami, which is smack-dab in the middle of prime recruiting real estate.

That doesn’t mean Oregon can’t regularly beat the superpowers and contend for a national title every few years. They’ve proven they can.

The program’s momentum under Kelly, despite the recent bad off-field news, is clearly positive. The distance between what the program was in the “old days” and present is significant.

So, yeah, Oregon has turned the corner. What benchmark challenges are ahead? Win a Rose Bowl in the modern era. Or a national title.

Bill from Oakland writes: Why is it that when an offense/defense performs well in a Spring Game all the talk is about how the other side of the ball struggled and not about how good the offense/defense may be? It happened with Cal and their defense performing well and with Oregon and their defense performing well too. Is it all about perspective and expectations? With both Cal and Oregon their offenses were thought to have some issues (Cal more than Oregon) so is it just everyone saying I knew that would be a problem, instead of looking at the possibility that maybe the defenses are good?

Ted Miller: Well, obviously when a team is scrimmaging against itself any success on one side of the ball means failure on the other.

Still, it’s not that difficult to figure out if a unit is playing poorly or is simply getting beat by outstanding opposing talent.

For example on offense: penalties, missed receivers, unblocked defenders, fumbles, dropped passes, a QB with happy feet not seeing open receivers, etc. Those sorts of things indicate a poor offensive performance.

Same thing for defense: penalties, wide-open receivers, missed tackles, multiple explosion plays, huge holes through the line, etc. Those sorts of things indicate a poor defensive performance.

Moreover, a person can make distinctions. If Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea whips an opposing offensive lineman one-on-one, you sort of go: “Well, Paea’s a beast.” But if you see a starting offensive tackle getting whipped by a junior what’s-his-name defensive end, you might wonder how he’ll do against, say, Ricky Elmore or Nick Perry.

Michael from Houston writes: I think that a lot of Oregon State fans are tired of reading about how dominant our defensive line looks. Last spring and fall, I constantly took in all the stories I could about how dominant the defensive line looked, yet we all know how poorly the sack total was for the defense last year. So here we are again with a new year, but with the same stories of dominance by the D-Line. At this point, I’m having a real hard time buying into this idea. I sorta feel like it’s déjà vu all over again. Is it truly possible to get a good take on a position (O-Line, D-Line, Secondary, etc) from Spring reports?

Ted Miller: The Beavers defensive line looks like a bunch of petunias.

Feel better?

Well, see above for some explanation. Does a dominate D-line suggest a weak O-line during spring? Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? If a tree falls in the woods, will it leave?

My impression from my one day at Oregon State is both Beavers lines should be better in 2010 than 2009. Paea is the Pac-10’s best defensive tackle and end Gabe Miller looks poised for a breakout. Obviously, the D-line would be better if end Matt LaGrone didn’t quit and the O-line will look better when it gets some guys back who are sitting out spring with injuries, including tackle Michael Philipp and guard Grant Johnson.

It’s possible, in fact, that the D-line looks so good because the O-line is beaten up.

But to your final question: You really don’t know how good a team is until it plays a real game. And recent history has taught us that Oregon State often takes four or five games to find itself anyway.

Jacob from Myrtle Point, Ore., writes: Ted Miller, pardon my informality, but you are the man!! This blog has kept me sane throughout the offseason, especially as a Duck fan. One quick question for you: can you use your powers to talk either Oregon or Oregon State into putting its Spring Game later/earlier in the day on May 1!? I know that the UO game is scheduled on ESPN2, and I could TIVO it and go to the OS game, but it just isn’t the same! I could go to the first part of the Beaver scrimmage then fly (no pun intended) up I-5 for the Duck game, but that really takes a hit on beverage choice. Miller, I ask your professional advice!! What should I do!?!?

Ted Miller: No, you’re the man.

Couple of ideas. First, you could replicate yourself. Not only could you be in two places at one time, but you could make a third and force him to be the designated driver.

You could buy a helicopter. Or a jet.

You could hire the Flash to carry you back and forth.

As for my professional take: It’s my responsibility to recommend against seeing both games, particularly if you plan to wear Ducks colors at Reser Stadium.

But your obsessiveness is certainly admirable.

Pac-10 lunch links: ASU’s Szakacsy gets involved in more than football

Walk along the river, sweet lullaby, it just keeps on flowing,

It don’t worry ’bout where it’s going, no, no.

Don’t fly, mister blue bird, I’m just walking down the road,

Early morning sunshine tell me all I need to know.

Former Pac-10 players on top-100 list

Twelve former Pac-10 players — topped by USC defensive end Everson Griffen at No. 20 overall — made the Scouts Inc. top-100 list of NFL draft prospects, which was published in the latest ESPN Magazine.

Those players are (number is top-100 rank):

20. Everson Griffen, DE, USC

21. Taylor Mays, S, USC

24. Brian Price, DT, UCLA

37. Tyson Alualu, DT, California

41. Jahvid Best, RB, California

43. Rob Gronkowski, TE, Arizona

46. Charles Brown, OT, USC

52. Damian Williams, WR, USC

62. Anthony McCoy, TE, USC

74. Joe McKnight, RB, USC

88. T.J. Ward, S, Oregon

94. Ed Dickson, TE, Oregon

Spring Reports

Clemson
Our first in a series of looks at spring scrimmages across the country.

Atlantic Coast

Clemson: There were 18 punts. One of them was fumbled. The number of standout plays could be counted on one hand, and the teams combined for 358 yards of offense. Reported attendance: 21,000.

Duke: David Cutcliffe has emphasized improving team speed since his arrival three years ago, and although the efforts are beginning to pay off, the team is young, with 54 of 82 scholarship players either sophomore or freshmen.

Florida State: Quarterback Christian Ponder was in midseason form, throwing for 266 yards and two touchdowns. Attendance: 51,300.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels have nine starters returning on defense, and coach Butch Davis used the spring game to give younger players a chance to shine. Attendance: 29,500.

Virginia: Coach Mike London's spring debut went as expected, with the defense overwhelming a sputtering offense, an issue that plagued Al Groh in his final two years as coach.

Big 12

Baylor: Quarterback Nick Florence, the backup to Robert Griffin, passed for 242 yards and two touchdowns. Griffin, who sat out spring drills after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last fall, will be back in the fall.

Colorado: If the season were to start today, Tyler Hansen would be the starting quarterback over Cody Hawkins.

Texas: Garrett Gilbert played like a veteran at quarterback, but Mack Brown was not encouraged by the play of No. 2 Sherrod Harris. Attendance: 44,250.

Conference USA

Southern Mississippi: The offense was sharp, but the play of the defense
was disappointing
. Chris Campbell completed 24 of 32 passes for 207
yards. Attendance: 4,860

Independent

Army: Rich Ellerson declared spring drills "a success," but the coach
wasn't ready to predict that the Black Knights will end a streak of 13
consecutive losing seasons
.

Mid-American

Miami: Quarterback Zac Dysert completed
23 of 25 passes
for 137 yards and tailback Thomas Merriweather
rushed 23 times for 106 yards.

Mountain West

Air Force: The Falcons concentrated on developing
their offensive line
, which lost all five starters.

Brigham Young: James Lark, Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps will continue
their competition to become starting
quarterback
into the fall. Attendance: 7,000.

San Diego State: The offense gained only
eight rushing yards
in 46 carries in addition to committing four
turnovers.

Texas Christian: The nearly 140-play scrimmage was highlighted by a couple
of long pass plays
by Andy Dalton, including one to Antoine Hicks
on a busted play for 30 yards. Attendance: 7,500.

Pacific 10

Arizona: The Wildcats leave spring training with the look of a Pac-10
first-division team
that could beat any other on the schedule. "If
we get our offensive line solidified, we should be able to score
points in bunches
," coach Mike Stoops said. Attendance: 6,000.

Southeastern

Florida: John Brantley was sharp at quarterback in the Gators' first
spring game without Tim Tebow in five years. Tebow was in the crowd, giving
an impassioned speech
about playing for Florida to several dozen
recruits. Attendance: 51,500.

Georgia: Zach Mettenberger was impressive, but the quarterback won't
start the Sept. 4 opener against Louisiana Lafayette because he is
suspended for at
least the first game
after his alcohol-related arrest last month.
Attendance: 38,742.

South Carolina: Steve Spurrier called off the game after three
quarters, but questions surrounding his starting quarterback will
linger into the summer
.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores had had one of college football's worst
offenses in 2009, and from the looks of it, 2010
may not be much better
.

Sun Belt

Florida International: Players and coaches took time time to remember Kendall Berry, the running back who was killed in an on-campus stabbing in March.

Middle Tennessee: Coach Rick Stockstill, who is coming off a 10-win season, is breaking in new offensive and defensive coordinators. Attendance: 3,110.

North Texas: Nothing was settled between Derek Thompson and Nathan Tune, who are battling to become the starting quarterback. Riley Dodge, last season's starter, was moved to receiver because a series of injuries sapped his arm strength.

Troy: Quarterbacks Jamie Hampton and Corey Robinson will continue their competition for the starting job into the fall.

Western Athletic

Louisiana Tech: Seventeen players caught passes in new coach Sonny Dykes' offense. Attendance: 2,500.

Nevada: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick struggled throwing the ball and had
three
passes intercepted
. Running backs Vai Taua and Courtney Randall
combined for only 24 yards. Attendance: 1,500.



Leinart gets — and gives — the message

Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart sent a text message to coach Ken Whisenhunt after the team added veteran Derek Anderson to compete for the starting job.

<!–INLINE MUG–>

Leinart

<!–END INLINE MUG–>Leinart wasn’t complaining.

“He is fired up about where he is and about getting in here in the offseason program and working with the guys,” Whisenhunt told reporters in Arizona.

Leinart seems to have the right attitude. Or at least he isn’t demonstrating the wrong one. Leinart also responded favorably when Whisenhunt offered only a conditional endorsement earlier in the offseason, even though the retiring Kurt Warner was the only other quarterback on their roster.

“That indicated to me that Matt was in a good place with it and today was another example of that,” Whisenhunt said. “I don’t know necessarily that it was a function of any announcements about us reaching an agreement with Derek as much as it was just Matt staying in communication. That is what we want from our players and I was excited to see that.”

Is Mike Garrett really ready to open up?

Kudos to USC athletic director Mike Garrett for putting himself out there on USC’s football blog and his very own Twitter page. But once you’re out there, you’re susceptible to friendly fire. Hope he can take it as well as he dishes it …

Item 1: Garrett laments the USC women’s basketball team not making the NCAA Tournament.

Garrett says: “The feeling is even worse because there’s no transparency with the whole system. The selection committee makes their educated decisions, but for USC, the 65th-best team and first one out of the tournament, there’s no rationale for why we weren’t included. We’re just left wondering.”

Reaction: See what it feels like when Garrett and other members of the USC athletic department refuse to comment on any aspect of the NCAA’s investigation into their alleged violations? With no rebuttals, we’re just left wondering.

Item 2: Garrett complains about the Pac-10 getting snubbed in both tournaments.

Garrett says: “It’s a major disappointment that the Pac-10 has only two teams in both the men’s and women’s tournament brackets this year, and it bugs me that the conference has been getting belittled in the press like it has. … It’s disappointing that we don’t get the same benefit of the doubt that other conferences get.”

Reaction: I agree that the Pac-10 is a victim of East Coast bias, but the NCAA Selection Committee apparently knew what it was doing when it excluded Arizona State from the men’s field. ASU, the only other viable conference candidate, lost its 1-versus-8, first-round NIT game to Jacksonville.

Item 3: Garrett reiterates that no member of the USC athletic department will be participating in an NCAA pool because it’s considered a form of gambling.

Garrett says: “There have been several notable examples of college athletic department employees who have broken this rule, and we’re fortunate we have those examples to teach us all that the only way to do it is the right way.”

Reaction: Garrett couldn’t have been referring to UCLA football coach and former Bracketologist Rick Neuheisel, could he?

Item 4: Garrett says he never will sit on a tournament selection committee.

Garrett says: “I’m here to win and be involved in the lives of our student-athletes, and for someone with tunnel vision like me, it’s not best for our program if I sit on committees that consume such time and take me away from my No. 1 job. I’m into helping and educating our student-athletes — not being a cog in a bureaucracy.”

Reaction: UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero was the chairman of the men’s committee this year. Just sayin’.

Related posts:

Is Mike Garrett really ready to open up? is a post from: USC

Trojans Headed For One Last Trip to the Desert

Southern California guard Mike Gerrity  is fouled by Oregon State guard Josh Tarver in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

More photos »

Alex Gallardo – AP

4 days ago:

Southern California guard Mike Gerrity is fouled by Oregon State guard Josh Tarver in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

28 games into the USC basketball season, the latest reports emerging from Galen Center unsurprisingly suggest that the current Trojans’ bunch may be undergoing some sort of burnout effect. With a shortened roster and a general lack of depth, this concept shouldn’t come as a big shock to most ‘SC fans. From the Los Angeles Times:

USC is said to be running on fumes. The truth is, the Trojans would be lucky to have any fumes left.

With a shallow bench and a roster that includes several players racking up minutes after not playing much last season, it’s evident the team is worn to the bone.

Coach Kevin O’Neill said that “tired shouldn’t be an excuse,” but he also admits that obstacles his players faced this year are a major factor in their current fatigue.

“The adversity and the constant having to overcome adversity takes a toll on guys who haven’t had to play major minutes before,” O’Neill said.

Senior guard Mike Gerrity had been going with the company line: that every player is tired at this point in the season. But he changed his tune Tuesday and said USC’s recent losses against Oregon and Oregon State came from something else.

“We lost focus in both these past couple games,” Gerrity said. “We had leads at halftime and we lost sight of what was getting us those leads.”

In some ways, fatigue is a reasonable excuse for this team’s recent troubles, but in the end, I’m not ready to go ahead and buy it. For one, the Trojans struggles have been on the offensive end – they shoot just 30.2% from beyond the arc and rank among the worst teams in all of Division 1 in terms of points per game. Most scouts will tell you that defense takes far more energy to play than offense so the idea that the team’s offensive performance is lagging due to exhaustion is a little tough for me to understand at this point. 

Furthermore, the Trojans’ effort hasn’t entirely been consistent. Why does the fatigue only kick in for games against the conference’s bottom feeders – Oregon, Oregon State, and  Washington State. It looked like the effort was certainly there against Washington in Seattle and Cal at Galen Center. Something doesn’t match up exactly.

Surprisingly, O’Neill acknowledged the the team may be wearing down this week and that if may be negatively impacting the team’s recent performance. From Scott Wolf’s blog:

“Basically we are a little fried as a team,” said O’Neill. “I don’t know how we will react over these last two games being that we really have nothing to play for like the Pac-10 Tournament of anything like that.”    

Yet, even with the season winding down, USC has one final road trip left to Arizona on the horizon, where they will aim to finish the year on a positive note. It’s going to be tough for these to get motivated to play in these games, considering that Cal has already won the Pac-10 regular season title and there is no Pac-10 tournament for ‘SC. Yet, with three important seniors in Mike Gerrity, Marcus Johnson, and Dwight Lewis, on the roster, it would be nice to see them play well over the final stretch run. 

Additionally, the trip to the Valley of the Sun, will also mark Kevin O’Neill’s return to Arizona, where he once coach for the Wildcats for one season back in 2008. Of course, O’Neill has been downplaying its significance:

“To me it’s just another game against a quality team. I have great respect for Arizona and their tradition. I loved my time in Tucson, but it’s just another game. It’s unfortunately our last game of the year, but it’s just another outing.”  

Nonetheless, this season is just about all wrapped up, and as a result, most of the Trojan faithful is already taking a quick glance at the future. And as it looks now, that future appears to be pretty bright. 

That is because, the Trojans recently got its first verbal commitment from the class of 2012 – 6’2″ combo guard Larry Lewis of Arcadia High School in Phoenix, Arizona according to WeAreSC.com:

Lewis verbally committed to the Trojans on Tuesday night, after sitting down with his mother and AAU coach, Jeff De Laveaga.  The 6-2 guard had unofficially visited the Trojans several weeks ago and felt that experience, coupled with strong pushes from USC assistant coach Bob Cantu and head coach Kevin O’Neill, was enough to make him a Trojan.

“Larry wanted to get it done,” De Laveaga said of the recruiting process, adding that Lewis chose USC for the location, the education and the chance to play as a freshman.  “He had a great time on his unofficial visit.  He said it was a great campus, with great facilities and he loved the staff.”

Though Lewis currently stands at 6-2, he’s projected to hit 6-4 by the time he’s done growing, which may take several more years considering his age.  Lewis will graduate at 17 and won’t turn 18 until he’s enrolled at USC.

With Jio Fontant becoming eligible to play next December, along with the arrivals of Bryce Jones in 2010 and Gelaun Wheelwright in 2011, Kevin O’Neill looks to have a formidable backcourt for years to come.