SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
7/11/2007 04:03:00 PM
Sooners Punished; What About USC?
Reggie Bush reportedly received over $300,000 from a pair of agents while he was still playing for USC.
Donald Miralle/Getty Images
The NCAA committee on infractions handed down its sanctions against Oklahoma on Wednesday for last year’s Rhett Bomar/J.D. Quinn car-dealership fiasco. For failing to properly monitor the players’ fraudulent employment, the university -- which was already on probation for the Kelvin Sampson phone-call scam in basketball -- will see its stint in the penalty box extended for two years, through 2010, forfeit two scholarships in its next two recruiting classes and must vacate its eight wins from the 2005 season, in which both Bomar and Quinn participated.
That’s certainly a lot of wrist-slapping over the stupidity of two players whom the program already dismissed, but based on past precedent, it pretty much fits the crime. While the sanctions might cause a little bad p.r. for the Sooners in the short-term, in reality they will have little effect on the program’s future (as painful as it must be for that 2005 Holiday Bowl banner to come down).
The bigger issue to me is one I addressed in a Mailbag a couple of months ago but which, for the most part, continues to go unspoken: Reggie Bush. Now that the NCAA has dropped its hammer on Oklahoma, how hypocritical is it going to look if, as expected, it lets fellow powerhouse USC off scot free for what most reasonable people believe to be far more egregious transgressions.
As previously reported, the NCAA’s largely powerless enforcement division has thus far failed to make any headway in its investigation of the alleged extra benefits Bush and his family received from two potential sports-marketers, as detailed in several reports by Yahoo! Sports. Not only has Bush refused to cooperate with investigators but he's essentially bought the silence of the people who originally brought the allegations through a legal settlement. Barring a dramatic development, USC is unlikely to endure any ramifications.
The longer the NCAA remains silent on the matter, the more the conspiracy theories grow among fans of other programs around the country incredulous that the Trojans -- who fans of other national-title contenders would no doubt love to see taken down a peg -- are dodging this bullet. Wednesday’s Oklahoma news won’t help matters.
Mind you, the committee that determined the Sooners’ sanctions is a different entity entirely from those who do the actual investigating. In Oklahoma’s case, the investigation was made much easier by the fact the school itself uncovered the scheme and self-reported it.
But I’m guessing most of the public doesn’t care about such semantics. Most people are going to read the line about OU "failing to monitor" its athletes’ employment situation and say, "Well, shouldn’t USC have been monitoring Bush’s dealings with agents?" According to Yahoo!, the agents were on the sideline and in the locker room throughout Bush’s final season.
So what do you think? Are the sanctions against Oklahoma too strict, too lenient or just right? And what will your reaction be if the NCAA ultimately fails to find evidence of wrongdoing in the USC/Bush case?