Probably former USC assistant basketball coach Tony Bland: the man who may bring Trojan basketball – and possibly the entire athletic department (though I don’t think that will happen) – down. Photo courtesy of conquestchronicles.com
First the Reggie Bush thing, where the former Trojan football superstar’s parents got to live in a house without having to pay rent for it, triggering the NCAA to throw the harshest penalties on a football program in over 25 years.
Then the incident where O.J. Mayo, the basketball standout, allegedly took money to be a Trojan for a year nearly a decade ago before being the proverbial “One & Done” player, bailing for the NBA.
Now we have Tony Bland, who until this week was the associate head coach of USC’s basketball team, second in command to head coach Andy Enfield.
To recap what’s been all over the news, after a FBI investigation, Bland was arrested for allegedly accepting $13,000 from advisers (read: agents) in exchange for him steering USC players to such advisers (agents) upon entering the NBA.
On top of that, Bland was also accused of allegedly paying $9,000 to parents of two Trojan hoopsters.
That’s $22,000 in all used in a HUGE no-no way.
All of this reminds me of the SMU football scandals of the 1980s.
Like a maliciously willful child, those Mustang boosters wouldn’t stop paying the players and giving them homes and cars after the team was put on probation and lost scholarships and TV coverage multiple times.
Which was why the NCAA gave them the “Death Penalty” in 1987; two years without a sport that’s considered a religion in Texas.
Which led to that team in Dallas not winning more than seven games in a season since.
OK, what does this have to do with ‘SC hoops?
The same fate may await USC.
I’m not saying that the basketball team should be suspended, but when the NCAA gets involved in this mess – and it definitely will,
Especially after the Reggie Bush episode,
In order to re-restore the integrity of Trojan athletics and college basketball in general and Trojan men’s basketball in particular, ‘SC will need to be made an example of.
To be the proverbial sacrificial lamb.
If things unfold the way I think they may unfold with this Tony Bland bribery issue, the only basketball played in this building may be the basketball played by the Women of Troy for a year. Photo courtesy of RateYourSeats.com.
Here’s what I would do if I were the NCAA President…
1. Order USC Athletic Director Lynn Swann to fire Enfield – who as the head coach must assume responsibility – and his entire staff straight away, which I’m sure the former Trojan All-American, legendary Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver, and NFL Hall of Famer will be apt to do anyway.
2. As far as sanctions, I would not impose the death penalty.
But I would be harsher on that basketball program than their gridiron brothers in 2010, giving them at least four years of probation with, at minimum, three years of no postseason play whatsoever – not even the Pac-12 Tournament.
3. Out of the 13 scholarships available for men’s basketball teams, take away five for every year that the Trojans are on probation, which with four years on the hook would be twenty rides in all.
As for what I would do if I were Lynn Swann…
First, after firing Enfield and his staff, (stating the obvious) I would hire an interim coach to be the “caretaker” of the program for this upcoming season, which begins in a little over a month, much like Gerald Ford was after his predecessor, Richard Nixon, resigned rather than being impeached and most likely ousted due to that incident at the Watergate Hotel.
Second, not only permanently dismiss the players involved with Bland in this thing from the team, but expel them from school as well.
Third, hire an absolutely straight-arrow type to be the head coach, with a staff to match, the next year.
In other words, completely clean house.
I can’t predict if those things I would do is what is going to happen to USC.
But I do know one thing…
With the FBI involved in this, this is too big a scandal to dismiss as just another NCAA violation.
In other words, at least in some way, shape, or form, the Trojans are going down.
USC Athletics is going to take another significant hit to their reputation and credibility, get a bomb dropped on them that will perhaps be akin to – figuratively speaking, of course – those two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, on August 6th and 9th, 1945.
It’s like what that guy said in ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary on the sins of SMU football, “Pony Excess”; how many times are you going to get caught doing something wrong before you have to pay dearly (or something in that vein)?
I’ll be interested to see what develops, and what ‘SC’s fate on the hardwood will ultimately be.
Could we be seeing the last of these cardinal and gold-clad guys, as least for a year? Photo courtesy of latimes.com