So-Cal Justice: USC Athletics Got What It Deserved

Nick Mordowanec@NickMordoCorrespondent IJune 10, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Coach Pete Carroll of the USC Trojans leads his team on to the field prior to the start of the NCAA college football game against Arizona Wildcats at the Los Angeles Coliseum on December 5, 2009 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

All the rumors and speculation regarding former USC football and basketball stars Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo, respectively, have finally succumbed to this point: A list of NCAA penalties sure to make the college sports scene no longer look like child’s play.

The prestigious university received numerous sanctions for improper benefits given to Bush—the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner—as well as special treatment on Mayo’s behalf.

The sanctions include some big blows to competitive play for the football program, including the loss of 30 scholarships over the next three years, not being able to play in any bowl game the next two seasons, and vacating 14 victories from December 2004 through the 2005 season.

USC may even be stripped of its 2005 national championship victory over Oklahoma, a move which would be among the most stunning in recent memory.

And you know what? They deserve it.

All the gossip and hearsay has been validated, at least for now, and it has been a long time coming. Most people who closely follow sports—both collegiate and professional–had a good feeling that both Bush and Mayo were doing things in college that were simply illegal.

Mayo jumped ship from USC after just one season to make millions in the NBA, while Bush became the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft and has never looked back—until now.

It is unclear whether Bush will be stripped of his Heisman, but maybe the committee should go through with it and set a precedent for all other collegiate football players to follow. The term “student-athlete” is a privilege and not a gift, but players like Bush and Mayo did not have their priorities in the right order.

Wasn’t it convenient how former USC basketball coach Tim Floyd resigned from USC just one year ago, only to take the head coaching job at UTEP? And what about former football coach Pete Carroll, who left the Trojans after this past season to head to the NFL. Maybe the two of them knew this was coming and made their getaways before it all blew up in their faces.

Although both men will deny they knew anything and instantly dismiss the violations as naught, I find it hard to believe that the two men in charge didn’t know their players—their star players—weren't playing by the rules.

It was a steep penalty for USC, but it was so well warranted that nobody can truly complain about its severity. For the past decade the joke surrounding USC football was that it was Los Angeles’ professional football team.

Now it seems like the joke was on us.