Today it was announced by USC athletic director Mike Garrett that the Trojans would self-impose sanctions resulting from NCAA infraction violations stemming from former coach Tim Floyd’s illegal payments to a USC booster that had ties to former Trojan OJ Mayo.
These sanctions include the forfeiture of all wins in the 2007-2008 season, Mayo’s only year with the Trojans and, more importantly, no postseason appearances in either this years PAC-10 tournament or the NCAA playoffs.
When the news of the NCAA violations first surfaced, I recall thinking that there was no way anyone could be so stupid as to pay off anyone associated with a recruit.
So I never thought for a minute that the allegations were true.
Later, when Tim Floyd resigned under this cloud of suspicion, I truly felt sorry for Floyd, who I thought was being unfairly run out of town on a rail.
Based on Mike Garrett’s press conference, there was ample proof that Floyd was indeed stupid enough to make that payoff.
Now the Trojans are left to pick up the pieces of the wreckage that Floyd left behind.
While it hurts those fans of USC who were just beginning to rally behind this new group of players, it completely destroys this year’s team, which has played remarkably well over the last eight games, all victories.
The Trojans started out 2-4 but since has won those eight straight games, including blowouts of the then-No. 8 Tennessee and No. 20 UNLV and now stand at 10-4.
This weekend, USC swept the Arizona schools, including holding the 10-4 Arizona State Sun Devils to 37 points last night at the Galen Center.
USC was picked to finish last in the preseason PAC-10 poll after losing four starters, all their recruits save one (Evan Smith), and, of course, the aforementioned Tim Floyd.
New coach Kevin O’Neill, who knew that the possibility of these sanctions could occur was nonetheless disappointed at the news, which he broke to his players prior to the press conference.
O’Neill, who has done an amazing job with the Trojans in his short time here, said his players were devastated at the news.
And well they should be.
With the exception of Dwight Lewis, none of this year’s men of Troy played significant minutes for USC during OJ Mayo’s brief stay.
Two of the players, Mike Gerrity and Alex Stepheson, weren’t even going to school at USC at the time having transferred and being declared eligible only this season.
For Gerrity, who has won every game he has played for the Trojans this season and has been rightly identified as the missing component in the Trojans’ recent success, this news is particularly horrible.
Mike Gerrity, who has transferred twice before finally landing at USC, is a senior.
Now, with future looking so bright for this year’s Trojans, the rug has been pulled out from under him.
Make no mistake about it, the Trojans were on the road to March Madness.
Employing a suffocating defense and just enough offense, USC was just starting to jell in what appears to be a fairly weak PAC-10 conference.
Now their last game will be the end of the regular season on March 6, no matter how well they do.
Which is sad, because this group of players had nothing to do with Tim Floyd’s stupidity, yet they will be the ones to pay the price.
Further sanctions may be imposed by the NCAA, which is continuing its investigation.
But, make no mistake about it, even if there are no further sanctions imposed, this years Trojans will suffer mightily.
Meanwhile, Tim Floyd stays in his lucrative job as an NBA assistant.
Some things in life aren’t fair, and this certainly qualifies as one of them.
As a Christian, I shouldn’t wish for anyone, including Tim Floyd, to go to hell.
But as an avid fan of the USC Trojans and one who truly feels for this year’s basketball team, I just can’t get over the unfairness of it all.
I’ll ask the Lord for forgiveness later.