On Sunday, Craig Bennett of USA Today reported that the University of Southern California Trojans might have ran afoul of the NCAA.
For a school that's in the middle of serving probation and saddled with scholarship reductions for the next few seasons, another violation would be a major blow to the recovery process. Ears perked up as news of the violation was revealed.
Then we got a chance to see the issue. Max Wittek, a sophomore quarterback for the Trojans, was quoted in Gary Klein's LA Times piece about his role in trying to get running back Silas Redd from Penn State to USC. Wittek comments:
“I told him I was sorry to hear about everything that came down and that it was obviously a difficult situation,” Wittek said. “But I tried to sell USC to him a little bit. I’d love to have him here. He said thanks for reaching out, that he was definitely interested and was just trying to take the right steps to decide what he was going to do.”
If you're familiar with NCAA rules and regulations, then you know this is likely a violation. If you're a college football fan you should also know that this is far from a big deal, even with USC's current situation.
Generally, this is a coach's violation and one that they say "oops" to on the regular. As Lane Kiffin proved at Pac-12 media days, most coaches are well versed at dancing around this rule with a well-timed no comment or a reciting of the rule to keep themselves out of trouble.
In the case of Max Wittek, you have a kid being candid and dabbling in a space that normally is reserved for coaches. Following the Bryce Brown violation, we know Lane Kiffin knows the rule, Unfortunately, his players are not as familiar with it.
While folks use this as an opportunity to pile on USC and/or Lane Kiffin, the fact of the matter is that secondary violations happen. The NCAA understands this and responds in kind to the self-reporting of such violations. With USC clearly promoting an atmosphere of compliance and working to fall into lockstep with the NCAA, an innocent incident such as this won't sink their ship or set them back.
This is not "ghost phone calls" or illegal text messages; this is a mere slip of the tongue by a party to whom the rule generally does not apply. If you're a University of Southern California fan, don't lose sleep over it. As long as it gets reported, the Trojans will continue to be alright pushing to come out of their sanctions on top.