|Trojans fight on despite growing NCAA scrutiny|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 21 August 2009 18:02|
This Wednesday practice really got rolling when defensive tackle Derek Simmons and fullback D.J. Shoemate traded shoves after a play ended. All fired up now, the offense and defense formed dueling chant circles, jumping and waving their arms and edging toward each other with excitement, not anger.
Coach Pete Carroll repeatedly blew bursts on his whistle, but nobody paid any mind.
rnia 's football practices on their palm tree-lined campus fields only look like anarchic, high-testosterone free-for-alls to the untrained eye. This is how the seven-time Pac-10 champions are molded by Carroll, who encourages competition to the limits of decorum.
``We do things differently sometimes at USC, and we're proud of the way we do it,'' safety Taylor Mays said. ``This program isn't just about us, but it's about leaving a legacy for the players after us at this school.''
It's easy to see the parallels between Carroll's coaching style and USC's attitude toward the allegations of illegal benefits and negligent oversight looming above the schools' most prominent programs. Through more than three years of mounting accusations and evidence, the Trojans have kept winning - and most everybody expects them to remain the West Coast's top team this fall.
``This is nothing new,'' Carroll said in response to recent allegations he had improperly received coaching help. ``It's been out in the open. We've had (investigators) come in here in the past. This is how we grow and learn. Other places do it as well, I'm sure.''
umstantial evidence of serious problems around the school.
The NCAA, the Pac-10 and even the FBI have conducted various investigations into the Bush family's business relationships and just how much USC should have known about the people hanging around members of the marquee football team in city popular for shady characters. The NCAA's Bush probe has been bundled with its look into alleged financial misdeeds around basketball star O.J. Mayo, whose single season on campus conceivably could set back USC hoops for years.
Yet the NCAA still hasn't announced any findings, and it's impossible to tell when anything might happen. After widespread speculation this summer that the NCAA would announce something before football season, it looks less likely the closer it gets to the Sept. 5 opener against San Jose State at the Coliseum.
``Has it only been three years?'' Carroll asked. ``It's been a long time. The Reggie Bush stuff is really not topical. We really don't care anything about it. We did all of our contributing a long, long time ago. It seems like even longer than (three years ago). We don't get questioned about it.
t needs to be regarded.''
The NCAA's investigation can't be publicly discussed by USC officials or the NCAA beyond vague declarations from athletic director Mike Garrett and Todd Dickey, USC's senior vice president of administration, in a YouTube video posted in June. The probe's length likely is due to many reasons, including pending lawsuits and unwilling participants, reportedly including Bush and Mayo.
``We have no idea how long this investigation will continue, and no one is more anxious to bring this process to a conclusion than we are,'' said Dickey, whose office is heading the school's investigation. ``Any suggestion that USC is not taking these allegations seriously and investigating them thoroughly is simply wrong.''
``We want to get it over,'' Garrett said recently. ``We can only go as fast as they (NCAA) want to go.''
Yet the story keeps getting bigger. Last month, Carroll confirmed he had used veteran NFL assistant Pete Rodriguez as a consultant on special teams, a move he said was approved by his compliance office, but which could be considered improper.
Such a misstep might not even be considered a secondary violation of NCAA rules, but it could point the NCAA toward determining there's a lack of institutional control at USC, which could lead to major sanctions.
ing we're doing,'' Carroll said. ``We haven't done anything without total guidance from our compliance department. We've asked for clearance to do everything we've done, and we've been OK'd to do that. We'll do everything to contribute to any questions that are asked, but I think everything is fine.''
Men's basketball coach Tim Floyd might not share that perception. Saying he no longer had enough enthusiasm for the job, he abruptly resigned in June with three years left on his contract, shortly after being accused of giving cash to a man who helped steer Mayo to USC.
Even if the NCAA surprises everybody and announces its findings imminently, the current season will go on - and the Trojans are loaded, as usual. Carroll is busy selecting a starting quarterback from among blue-chip prospects and rebuilding a defense that lost several starters to the NFL, yet they're the overwhelming popular choice to repeat as Pac-10 champions.
And Carroll still finds time to sign autographs and pose for pictures with every fan who attends the Trojans' high-octane practices, which are all still open to anybody who wants to attend.
sure we do it right.''