On Sunday, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott had an interesting Q&A with Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News.
As we have noted previously, Scott has been leaps and bounds better than his predecessor Tom Hansen, the Chianti Dan of the Pac-10. Between the TV contracts and improved national exposure, he has brought much needed visibility to the conference.
Although his defense of the swamp factory at Southern Cal, after the announcement of the NCAA sanctions were announced, was questionable and leaves a bad taste, it is understandable in the context of defending the conference. Certainly he could have done it another way, condemning cheating in no uncertain terms.
But in this Q&A, he makes an interesting point that should send shivers down the spine of anyone who cares about what UCLA Athletics stands for.
Follow me after the jump.
In the context of Southern Cal's response to the sanctions, he had this to offer:
Q: The way USC has responded over the past two years to the NCAA football sanctions, it seems there could have been much more complaining and protesting about how the Trojans program was treated in comparison to others also punished for various infractions. But would you seem to agree that the approach they took, more along the high road, has turned out to be more productive?
A: Yes, I'm a big admirer of the way (new university president) Max Nikias, (new athletic director) Pat Haden and the whole leadership team at USC has handled a very difficult situation with a lot of commitment and class and leadership in the face of what I know has been a lot of anger and pressure in their fan base to react differently. And long term they're focused on the right things and how USC is successful playing by the rules and continues to be a championship program across the board with class and respect for what that leadership stands for. So, I know it's been a very difficult time but they've won a lot of admirers and plaudits across the country. When you don't agree with something - and they haven't agreed, and I've found myself in the same situation - trying to take the high road is not always the easiest thing to do.
Class? Leadership? At Southern Cal? Surely you jest...but no, he does not. And it is hard to disagree with him. Despite the blowhardity and arrogance that generally emanates form that cesspool, they have handled the crisis...professionally. Barf.
Well, how about UCLA's handling of the Sports Illustrated fiasco?
Q: And then there's the way UCLA came out on the other end of the Sports Illustrated story on their basketball program recently - and you had even said you thought there was no real news there - but that said, did it send any alarms off in your office about how the infrastructures of schools can get off balance with athlete discipline problems? Does it reinforce any game plans you already have in place that might address institutional problems that coaches can have with athletes?
A: Well, we're in constant dialogue with our schools, but dealing with individual discipline situations is really within the responsibility of the school. But I think the people I've talked to across the country and in our conference can relate to some of the challenges with managing discipline issues. Some of the issues and problems with student-athletes aren't necessarily different from the general student population but because college athletics are under such a microscope, with that comes responsibility and a higher standard you seem to have to set. That just comes with the territory. There's a bit of a cautionary tale for anyone who deals with this day to day.
Uhh...right. Thank you. I think? Talk about answering without answering.
It's not the first time that Larry Scott has given less than a ringing endorsement of the UCLA administration. He is really being kind and diplomatic with his words, if you ask me. Because frankly, I think that what he would like to be able to say is
"GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER YOU INCOMPETENT BUFFOONS, YOU ARE BECOMING THE JOKE OF THE CONFERENCE."
Let's get him and Chianti Dan on Jerry Springer and see how it turns out. I'll bring the popcorn.