The Compelling Case For USC’s Case

This story from USC’s Rivals site makes a compelling case for why the NCAA’s purported linkage of Trojan running backs coach Todd McNair with ex-con Lloyd Lake is shoddy at best.

After reviewing the various reports, the article finds that:

In questioning Lake, the enforcement staff misstated who made a 2-minute, 32-second phone call that the Committee said it relied on as proof McNair was told of the scheme. In questioning McNair, the staff incorrectly stated the year the phone call was made as happening in 2005. In all five mentions of the year in the questioning session, the phone call is said to have happened in January of 2005, not 2006, when it actually occurred…

…(Enforcement staffer Richard) Johanningmeier, who had misstated the nature of the call to Lake, would have similar factual inconsistencies in his questioning of McNair; asking the USC coach about a call that he said was made “Jan. 8, 2005,” — getting the year wrong.There would be four more “2005” references in this session with no one catching the wrong year.

Given the 2005 date, McNair recounted what he was doing the week after USC’s BCS championship game against Oklahoma, not after the 2006 Texas game, when Bush was a junior headed off early to the NFL.

At that time in 2005, McNair was on the road recruitingKyle Moore in Georgia and Brian Cushing in New Jersey. Both signed letters of intent with USC in February of 2005.

As a result of the enforcement staff’s mistakes, McNair appears to have never had the chance to respond about the call that the Committee used to convict him. The NCAA admitted that its staff had considered questioning McNair again, but declined since McNair “was on the record and adamant that he had never spoken to Lake.”

The Committee agreed with the enforcement staff’s finding that Lake, despite having given a detailed answer to a key question with a false premise, was more credible.

The Committee also agreed with its staff’s recommendation, finding that McNair had received the incriminating knowledge of the Bush, Lake and Michaels violations as a result of a phone call lasting two minutes and 32 seconds. A call in which, investigators said, Lake was threatening “to go public,” and “attempted to get [McNair] to convince [Bush] to either adhere to the agency agreement or reimburse Bush and Michaels.”

The Jan. 8, 2006 call that the enforcement staff had mischaracterized as to who made it and when it was made, seems to have provided the NCAA its proverbial smoking gun on McNair.

That may turn out to be a reverse smoking gun, if USC has its way in the appeal.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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7 Responses to The Compelling Case For USC’s Case

  1. Alex June 25, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    McNair’s knowledge of Lake is only an ancillary part of the case against USC. Stop trying to act like its at the heart of the case or punishments against them. The issue was the lack of institutional control by USC, not whether or not McNair had explicit knowledge of what was going on. Didn’t the NCAA level punishments against the basketball team while simultaneously finding that none of the coaches had knowledge of Mayo’s impropriety? The basketball program would have been facing the same sort of punishment as the football team if it had also been on probation at the time of the violations.

  2. Anonymous June 25, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    At USC lack of institutional control isn’t the problem, it’s the alibi. And how can USC know so much about so many recruits across the country and be so clueless for so long about its own superstars?

  3. ChloroxingTheGenePool June 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm #

    LOL. To summarize USCfootball.com’s article: Southern Cal fans bois not happy!!! I love the smell of desperation in the morning. You bitches cheated, now take your deserved punishment like men, starting with Mike Garrett.

    HP: what’s the latest on your efforts to make sure that more strict performance enhancing drug testing is carried out in South Central?

  4. Heismanpundit June 25, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    Alex, McNair’s issue actually is central to the NCAA’s case for Lack of Insitutional Control. The whole reason the NCAA claimed LOIC in football is primarily due to McNair supposedly knowing about the Bush situation. Without that charge being valid, then it becomes merely an amateurism issue, not one of institutional control and of USC knowing. So, I disagree that it is an ancillary issue or it would not have been so central in this case (have you actually read the report?). Without it, the NCAA has nothing to demonstrate (with evidence) the LOIC when it comes to football. Basketball was levied (and USC self-levied its penalty) because of its involvement with a known runner who had previous connections with scandal at USC, so this showed a unique level of lack of control when it came to hoops oversight. That has not been demonstrated when it comes to football.

  5. Anonymous June 27, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    Here’s an article on principles of institutional control since Trojans don’t seem to understand them:

    http://compliance.pac-10.org/thetools/instctl.pdf

    Can Trojans name any player in college football history that received more financial gifts than Reggie Bush while still in college? And it’s not like Reggie Bush was a nobody… he was USC’s superstar and a Heisman winner during the time USC coaches and staff were pretending nothing was happening. Unbelievable!

  6. Heismanpundit June 27, 2010 at 11:41 pm #

    Anonymous: No one is contending that Bush didn’t receive gifts. Not even USC is saying that. In fact, they freely admit it. However, that is far different than saying that USC had knowledge or should have had knowledge of this, which is the point the NCAA makes in its case to create a lack of institutional control charge. No matter what the NCAA or everyone else believes, it still has to have some legitimate proof to its case. Relying on an ex-con for the bulk of your case to prove USC’s knowledge is just not credible.

    Finally, as to your point about Bush being USC’s superstar, well there were a lot of big-time players at USC during that time. Ever heard of Matt Leinart? How about Dwayne Jarrett, LenDale White, Steve Smith, Shaun Cody, Mike Patterson, Mike Williams, etc., etc, etc….point being that USC was a team filled with huge college football names. It wasn’t Podunk U. with one big name in a small college town where everyone knew what was going on. These were a bunch of guys in a large metropolitan area….much different situation.

  7. Anonymous June 28, 2010 at 8:12 am #

    HP –

    You said McNair is central to the case for LOIC and that is false. You don’t do yourself or USC any favors by defending them without understanding the charges or the findings.

    Bush was USC’s superstar. The next best thing was Leinart, who respected the rules so much that he gave Mike Jarrett over $20,000 in benefits (luxury apartment with free utilities). Incredibly, the USC staff thought this was fine!

    And here’s LenDale White’s comments:
    “As big as this scale is and as much as they (the NCAA) is saying somebody took, for you not to know anything is kind of unbelievable to me. When I was going to school there, and we were partying too much on campus, coaches could show up at our dorm room and tell us to calm the partying down. But you can’t tell if somebody took a $750,000 home? I don’t know. It’s weird to me.”

    Regarding whether Carroll knew… “Maybe the boosters were paying him as well. I don’t know. Maybe they told him to keep it quiet. (Titans coach) Jeff Fisher knows every single thing you do. So it’s hard for me to say that if somebody got a brand new home or supposedly got a brand new car or something, that you (Pete Carroll) wouldn’t know. To me that’s baloney. Honestly. He (Pete Carroll) would know. You have to know. Especially when you’re in Hollywood, California. It’s not hard.”

    We also know that a “businessman” helped purchase a Land Rover for McKnight’s girlfriend. The fact that McKnight drove the car regularly and the businessman owns “www.4joemcknight.com” are just coincidences to the Trojans.

    Without Bush, USC could have easily lost 8 games during 2004 and 2005. You may want to pretend Bush was another cog in the system, but that’s sure not what you were saying before he became the poster child for cheating at USC. He’s the only Trojan on ESPN’s Top 25 greatest players. Do you really want to pretend you can’t single him out among a half-dozen of his team mates?