The Downfall of Troy: What USC Needs To Do Now
Let's see, the NCAA has found the University of Southern California guilty of "lack of institutional control" with regards to their men's basketball, women's tennis team, and especially their football program.
In case you were living under a rock this past week, among the sanctions imposed on the school were:
- A loss of 30 football scholarships over the next three seasons.
- Vacating 14 victories in football earned from December 2004 through 2005, which means the stripping of their 2004 BCS championship.
- A ban from post season bowls in 2010 and 2011.
Quite the harsh punishment, certainly harsher than what I would have given them.
What angers me the most in all of this, and the reason why I feel USC's sanctions were as harsh as it could get short of the death penalty, is the arrogance that the entire Trojan community, from athletic director Mike Garrett to the fans, has shown throughout the four year NCAA investigation.
From what Garrett, coach Lane Kiffin, and the countless number of USC supporters that frequent the various fan web sites have said, the "Trojan Family" has shown no remorse for what they have done.
They are, as one blogger put it, "the most spoiled, obnoxious people in college sports."
According to Garrett, the NCAA has "...nothing but a lot of envy. They wish they were Trojans," (yeah, sure).
Kiffin also effectively gave the NCAA the finger when he stated, "SC is more powerful than anything else. The university, the football program...no matter what they try to do to us, it won't matter."
If that is not extreme arrogance, then I don't know the meaning of the word.
Then again, what else do you expect from a school where a member of their marching band has stated that "...arrogance is part of the image that we exude."
Even the Daily Trojan, USC's student newspaper, said in 2005 that "an arrogance has taken over the program," in regards to their pigskin.
Indeed, the University of Southern California is seen by many as an institution built on snobbery, conceit, and a sense of immortality. Not to mention a lack of humility, sportsmanship, and remorse, which ultimately earned them the punishment that they got.
This Trojan arrogance is so pronounced that rather than just admitting their wrongdoings and accepting their fate, their community and fan base fully expects the NCAA's rulings to be overturned in the appeal that they are currently filing.
Their attitude, for the most part, continues to be "screw you," and you certainly can't get more arrogant than that.
Having said all of this, here is what USC needs to do in order to clean things up and regain the NCAA and the rest of the country's respect.
Accept Responsibility and Show Remorse for What Has Happened
Given their nature of conceit, this will undoubtedly be very difficult for the Trojan community to do as a whole—I certainly don't expect a formal apology to come from Heritage Hall or any of their student, booster, or alumni groups.
Get Rid of Mike Garrett
C. Max Nikias is replacing Steven Sample, who is retiring, as USC's president for the upcoming school year.
The first thing Nikias must do upon taking office is to call Garrett, who has shown a very arrogant attitude throughout all of this, into his office and offer him a substantial retirement and pension package. Being the Trojan athletic director means that he is ultimately responsible for the "lack of institutional control."
This will enable 'SC to start fresh, which is what desperately needs to happen.
If Garrett refuses the retirement/pension offer, then he should be asked to resign. If he says no to that, the next six words from Nikias must be—clean out your office, you're fired!
Hire Pat Haden as the New USC Athletic Director
This former Rose Bowl hero, Trojan quarterback in the mid 1970s and L.A. Rams star is exactly what USC needs right now.
Being a prominent lawyer and a Rhodes Scholar, he is as clean and straight arrow as Trojans come.
USC's athletic department would show improvement right away, because Haden would immediately clean house while refusing to stand for the incidents that occurred under Garrett's tenure.
Lan Kiffin and His Staff Must Be Watched Extremely Closely
Kiffin and staff need to be given absolute zero tolerance in the running of the football program.
If even the slightest thing happens under their watch that's against the rules, Nikias and Haden need to tell Kiffin the same six words that Garrett needs to be told—clean out your office, you're fired!
Should Kiffin and his staff need to be let go because of any violations, the next thing Haden should do is something that Garrett should have done in January when Pete Carroll left to coach the Seattle Seahawks.
Hire Tyrone Willingham
Forget how he was fired at Notre Dame, and definitely forget his 0-12 record at Washington in 2008—Willingham is a very good coach.
Not only that, he is also—like Haden—as straight arrow as they come in college sports, which is precisely what the Trojans need.
Being the clean, upstanding coach and human being that Willingham is, he will not tolerate stunts such as players punching folks in fraternity houses and crowing "I own the police!" (Rey Maualuga), or trying to pick up hookers who are undercover cops (Winston Justice).
They would be immediately and permanently dismissed from the team under Willingham's watch.
I'm positive that if Garrett had hired Willingham in January instead of Kiffin, USC's sanctions would not have been as harsh. The NCAA would have seen that by hiring a straight arrow coach, the Trojans were doing something to improve their image and clean their house.
By following these five suggestions, the University of Southern California would gain from the college sports world something that their arrogance has denied them from getting for far too long—respect and admiration.
Otherwise they will continue to be seen as the most arrogant and hated entity in intercollegiate athletics.
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