After more than two years of investigating the USC football program, sanctions finally came down on the Trojans dating back to allegations that former running back Reggie Bush took improper benefits to support his family.
USC has attempted to slip between the cracks of violations and punishment throughout the process, but news broke this morning of NCAA's hammer-drop on the Trojans program. It is an inauspicious start to Lane Kiffin's tenure in SoCal, but beyond Kiffin who are the winners and losers of USC's penalty?
USC, which was sanctioned back in 2001, faces a two-year ban from bowl games, a loss of "more than" 20 scholarships and the forfeiture of victories from at least the 2004 season.
The postseason ban is the first handed down on a BCS team in seven years. That postseason ban is a blow for USC which had become accustomed to national championship games and Rose Bowl appearances this decade.
Kiffin, who prides himself as one of the game's best recruiters, will lose enough scholarships to field units on both sides of the ball. The scholarship loss at an undetermined effect at the moment, but for a school of USC's caliber, 20 scholarships is a major loss.
Did Pete know the punishment was coming down the pike? It is tough to believe he didn't given his all-encompassing presence in the program. It is tough to deny that is why Carroll made the decision to return to the NFL despite the rather mediocre state of the Seattle Seahawks.
Now, Carroll gets a payday, personnel control of an NFL franchise and does not have to deal with NCAA sanctions or legislature. That's a huge win for the former Trojans head coach.
Lane Kiffin obviously wasn't the head coach when the rules were broken, but Kiffin was on staff at the time. Now Kiffin gets the short end of the stick and must begin his tenure as the Trojans head coach with one arm tied behind his back. The master recruiter now loses at least 20 scholarships and must endure the pitfalls of lost talent.
The Trojans saw their run of seven consecutive Pac-10 titles come to an end last season. With the sanctions, the door is now open for other Pac-10 teams to surge and grab the bowl games and big money that otherwise went to USC. Even a first place regular season finish still provides the benefit for the team that finishes second over the next two seasons.
The potential windfall of the lost scholarships also puts other Pac-10 teams in a position to get talent that may have otherwise gone to USC. It's a genuine opportunity for other Pac-10 teams to raid USC's cabinets.
The NCAA decided USC was deserving of punishment for their rules violations, but the punishment must have been levied through a strenuous grit of its teeth. Punishing USC is in no way good for college football. USC is one of the sport's most historic and well-known teams.
Regardless of what fans of other teams think of the Trojans, a postseason ban and scholarship stripping of the Trojans is a dark day for the sport.
The Notre Dame-USC rivalry has not been kind for the Irish over the last decade. USC won the last eight games over the Irish. The Trojans stare down the loss of nearly a quarter of their scholarships. If the Irish can't get off their recent shnide against the Trojans, when will they? Now is the time for the Irish to end their losing streak.
Upperclassmen like Mitch Mustain, C.J. Gable, Ronald Johnson and the rest of the Trojans elder statesmen lose the opportunity to play in a bowl game which is the prize at the end of the season.
More specifically, even sophomore Matt Barkley feels the wrath of a postseason ban. Barkley, who certainly has NFL aspirations, will for two years lose the opportunity to use bowl games, a bastion of scouting, to his advantage.
The aforementioned Pac-10 reaps the benefits of USC's punishment, but the one team and program really licking its chops is Jim Harbaugh and Stanford. USC was the figure on the mountaintop that Harbaugh wanted his team to overcome.
Now, the Cardinal must smell blood in the water at USC. Combine USC's punishment with the quarterback turmoil at Oregon, and Stanford has to feel like now is its chance to make a move in the conference both in the standings and on the recruiting trail.
Both the recruits from the 2010 and 2011 USC recruiting classes will face the raw end of USC's punishment. USC's top prize from last year's class Seantrel Henderson (pictured) and others like Robert Woods and Xavier Gamble will now miss out on bowl games in their first two seasons.
The NCAA punishment also effects USC on the 2011 recruiting trail. As B/R college football guru Bryan Kelly reported, DeAnthony Arnett out of Saginaw, MI has dropped USC from his list. Others including WR Kasen Williams, lineman Greg Robinson and defensive tackle Viliami Moala will seriously consider other options.
The challenge is now especially difficult for the Kiffins and Ed Orgeron who will walk into living rooms across the country with skepticism hanging over their heads before even making their pitch.