Great article by Jay Mariotti on AOL Fanhouse (emphasis added throughout):
The running joke really was true in the end, the one that referred to USC as this city's only professional football franchise. The sins of Troy finally have emerged from the southern California haze, thanks to a relentless NCAA probe that uncovered enough transgressions -- the biggest involving two enormous names, Bush and basketball star O.J. Mayo -- to permanently taint a prestigious university and its all-defining football glory of the last decade. This is a SCANDAL, all caps, the Enron of collegiate sports. Because Bush was found to have taken improper cash and gifts from two wannabe agents who'd hoped to represent him, and because his parents lived rent-free in a home owned by one of the men, the NCAA ruled him ineligible and triggered a flurry of penalties that will cripple the program's future and bloody its past. [...]
This isn't the death penalty. But it's close, with a trail of improprieties that "strike at the heart'' of whatever purity is left in college athletics. To an endlessly growing list that has ensnared corporate America, the political world and steroids users in sports, add the University of Southern California football team. If there is justice, the national title will be vacated, as will Bush's Heisman. And Snoop Dogg will find something else to do, though we hope it has little to do with smoking every day.
Southern Cal is now Southern Con, more than deserving of the largest hammer thrown this decade at a college football program. It's almost shocking that the NCAA ignored USC's prominence, money base and popularity as a national TV attraction, which makes this decision all the more dynamic and impressive. Maybe there's hope yet that the governing body of college sports will keep cracking down hard on sleazy programs -- Connecticut, Kentucky and Oklahoma among the basketball suspects -- after the Committee on Infractions went soft during the reign of the late NCAA president, Myles Brand.
And about Trogans refusing to take responsibility:
Of course, the Trojans refused to take their lumps like men. The focus inside the gated campus -- yes, gated, in part because the area is dangerous but also because the student body is generally privileged -- should be on athletic director Mike Garrett and school president Steven Sample. As in, didn't these hires and problems happen on their watch? Sample, often seen on the sideline during games, announced last November that he will step down in August. Garrett, I suspect, will be a scapegoat who eventually loses his job.
But from Carroll to university officials to Kiffin to Bush himself, the response Thursday was to throw a pity party for USC, declare the penalties as excessive and unfair and announce their intent to appeal the ruling. They want to blame the agents, conveniently forgetting that those in charge made a travesty of institutional control.
Read rest of it here.