Friday, February 09, 2007

The National Champion that is Beginning to Look Like it Never Was...

From an AP report that hit the wires this morning - "Southern California is looking into whether it may have violated NCAA recruiting rules while pursuing highly rated recruit Joe McKnight, a university official said.

"McKnight signed a national letter of intent with USC on Wednesday and made comments during a news conference that seemed to suggest communications involving former Trojan Reggie Bush, who is now with the New Orleans Saints.

"Former players are forbidden from telephoning prospective recruits, their relatives or guardians."

Currently the player and his high school coach are denying any contact with Reggie Bush and that the player mis-spoke, however, according to the report, "During the Wednesday news conference, McKnight said Carroll set up a conference call so he and Curtis could talk to Bush and ease concerns USC might face sanctions."

According to the AP story there are several versions of the story that exist -

1. Conference call with Bush to allay fears. (Violation)

2. McKnight's high school coach, JT Curtis (with whom McKnight lives) stating that according to McKnight, "Coach Carroll was talking to Reggie on the speakerphone and Joe was able to listen and hear Reggie Bush's side of the story." (Which still constitutes a violation)

3. Pete Carroll denies story and - "After being informed of Carroll's denial Thursday night, Curtis called McKnight and later said the recruit never heard Bush on a speakerphone."

4. Following the Carroll denial, Curtis's story sounds like meeting in McKnight in his living room (and Curtis wasn't there?) - "'He said when they came in his house, the discussion was brought up about probation and that's when the conversation came up that they had talked to Reggie, but Joe was not there," Curtis said. "He said, 'I was not on the speakerphone. I never called him and he never called me. I want to make it clear I never spoke to Reggie and he never spoke to me. I just messed it up. I shouldn't have said it that way (at the news conference)."'
"Curtis said McKnight may have been overwhelmed by the attention and scrutiny that accompanied his announcement."

I'm sorry, but describing a conference call is not misspeaking, saying "will" instead of "won't" or calling somebody Tom instead of Ted - that's misspeaking.

Something is not right with the way this recruitment happened and it sounds like both Pete Carroll and Reggie Bush (again) are on the verge of causing problems for USC. It is sounding more and more likely that it is going to be found that Bush accepted improper benefits for at least two seasons which will probably result in USC forfeiting their national title, Bush becoming the first Heisman Trophy winner to be stripped of the award, and sanctions against USC that might include being banned from bowl games, and stripped of football scholarships. And that doesn't include the potential problems of this last issue, which sounds likely to result in further sanctions.

One has to wonder if the Saints braintrust is worried about what Bush might do that will be a problem for them.

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