USC Should Weather the NCAA Lane Kiffin Investigation

Paul PeszkoSenior Writer IJune 11, 2011

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 31:  Coach Lane Kiffin of the Tennessee Volunteers watches pre-game warmups before the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against the Virginia Tech Hokies at the Georgia Dome on December 31, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Hokies beat the Volunteers 37-14.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

I just finished reading some of the posters on the USC boards, where there is a lot of gloom regarding Lane Kiffin’s appearance at a NCAA hearing this weekend, and rightfully so.  The NCAA’s bias against USC is topped only by the University of Tennessee’s angst over Lane Kiffin.

I don’t believe Kiffin could have walked into more hostile territory anywhere outside of Libya.  So, USC posters have every right to be concerned.

The NCAA has refused to show USC any mercy whatsoever in what many believe were extremely excessive sanctions in the Reggie Bush case.  USC has had to vacate almost everything except the Coliseum. 

This weekend Kiffin must face Volunteer officials who would love to blame as much as they possibly can on their one-and-done former head football coach—including the rash of recent tornadoes and floods that have ravaged the region. 

If there ever was such a thing as a kangaroo court, Kiffin will witness it in action right from his spot on the hot seat. 

However, the good news for USC is that a decision will not come down overnight.  The NCAA will still have a lot to sort out regarding the Bruce Pearl violations as well as some others that are not related to football.

At the very least, the Committee On Infractions (COI) will have to give the semblance of carefully weighing all sides and not appearing to have made a rash decision before possibly suspending Kiffin and imposing a “Show Cause” action which will severely limit or restrict his ability to recruit. 

Also, many members of the COI will have to take time to be deposed or even fly to Los Angeles to testify in the Todd McNair vs. NCAA lawsuit filed last week—a result of the COI’s handling of the Reggie Bush case.

No doubt, the COI will have to impose some sanctions on UT, even if they are relatively minor, to show that their two-year investigation was viable.  So I wouldn't expect a decision until midway through this season if not much later.

At that point, the better part of USC’s 2012 recruiting will be locked up.

Like McNair, Kiffin will have the opportunity to appeal the NCAA decision as will Ed Orgeron should sanctions also be brought against him. 

That appeal process will add another 6-8 month delay during which time Kiffin and Orgeron can function normally.  That will put them into the following season's recruiting, the Class of 2013, and the bowl ban will be over.

Should the appeals finally be denied, Kiffin, like McNair, can file a lawsuit against the NCAA and ask the court for an injunction, which will delay his sanctions even further. 

This will take USC well into the Class of 2014 recruiting and the last year of NCAA scholarship limitations.

If Kiffin loses his lawsuit, Pat Haden, or whoever is AD at that point, can decide not to renew Kiffin’s contract and search for a new head coach or renegotiate a reduced contract taking into account Kiffin’s limited duties. 

In either case, the bowl ban and the scholarship limitations will have ended, and the roster numbers can begin returning to normal.