Looking at the bigger picture when it comes to Seantrel Henderson and USC

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 01: Head coach Lane Kiffin looks on during the USC Trojans spring game on May 1, 2010 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

It’s hard to blame Seantrel Henderson for getting out of his letter of intent at USC to join another program like Miami, Ohio State or Minnesota (which were three schools, along with USC, that he was reportedly interested in). Thanks to the fairly recent sanctions handed down by the NCAA, the Trojans won’t be able to compete in a bowl game over the next two years and obviously that’s important to a player like Henderson, who was considered the second best recruit from the class of 2010 according to Rivals.com.

But will Henderson inevitably miss out in the long run?

The 6’7”, 295-pound offensive lineman, who played for Cretin-Derham High School in Minnesota, committed to USC in February before waiting to sign his letter of intent with the Trojans until the NCAA had wrapped up its investigation. Then, after reportedly meeting with Miami head coach Randy Shannon over the weekend, Henderson wanted to opt out of his commitment to USC, which Lane Kiffin and the Trojans granted by releasing him from his LOI with zero penalties or restrictions. (If USC wanted to, they could have made Henderson sit out an entire year before transferring because he had already signed with the program.)

On the surface, it appears as though Henderson is making the right decision. After all, what blue chipper would want to go through the next two seasons without the opportunity to play in a bowl game or perhaps a national title? It couldn’t have been a hard sell for someone like Shannon to sit the young man down and say, “Come to Miami and have the opportunity to play in four postseason games over the next two years, or go to USC and be limited to two.”

But let’s keep in mind that USC is a NFL-producing factory. Last year, the Trojans sent seven players to the NFL, while in 2009 they sent 11 and in 2008 there were 10 USC players drafted.

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USC appeals NCAA ruling, asks for 1-year bowl ban instead of two

USC has appealed the NCAA’s sanctions that prohibits them from playing in any postseason games over the next to years and has asked that the ban be reduced to only one year.

From ESPN.com:

USC appealed only certain aspects of this month’s ruling. Among the penalties were a two-year bowl ban, four years of probation, scholarship losses and removal of several victories. The school will accept a bowl ban for the upcoming season and certain scholarship penalties in football, but believes the full sanctions were unduly harsh.

USC asked for the two-year postseason ban to be reduced to one year. The school also wants the NCAA’s scholarship reductions in football from 2011 to 2013 to be reduced to five lost scholarships in each season, rather than 10.

“We disagree with many of the findings in the report from the NCAA Committee on Infractions and assert that the penalties imposed are too severe for the violations identified and are inconsistent with precedent in similar cases,” said Todd Dickey, USC’s senior vice president for administration.

USC already announced it would appeal immediately after the sanctions were handed down June 10. The NCAA’s appeal process typically takes at least several months, and Dickey said the Trojans might get an answer by spring only in a best-case scenario.

If the NCAA wants to make an example out of USC, then there’s little hope that the ban will be reduced. This situation could serve warning to all programs that if they’re caught breaking rules, that they could be punished as severely as the Trojans were.

That said, considering those that were at fault (ahem, Reggie Bush, Pete Carroll, etc.) for the ban aren’t involved with the program anymore, one can make the argument (and many certainly have) that the NCAA was too harsh in its ruling.

We’ll see what they rule…in a year.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

USC juniors and seniors can transfer without having to sit

In what could wind up being a massive blow to USC’s football program, the NCAA has ruled that juniors and seniors to-be can transfer to other FBS programs without having to sit out a season.

ESPN.com has the details.

“The second school would have to submit a waiver asking to waive the year in residence, but NCAA rules allow for this waiver to be granted if a student-athlete’s first school has a postseason ban in their sport,” NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in an e-mail to ESPN’s Joe Schad.

The rule does not apply to freshman who have signed national letters of intent, however. But schools with an interest in a USC junior or senior are allowed to initiate contact with the player, Osburn said.

Among juniors and seniors whom the transfer rule applies to are quarterback Mitch Mustain, running backs C.J. Gable and Marc Tyler, receiver David Ausberry, cornerback T.J. Bryant, tight end Blake Ayles, safety Drew McAllister and center Michael Reardon.

First-year coach Lane Kiffin said Thursday he hadn’t heard from any schools with possible interest in a USC player.

When asked if he’s concerned about some of his juniors and seniors transferring, Kiffin said, “If someone wants to leave the best place in the country to play football, we won’t stop them.”

Lane Kiffin has quite the situation on his hands. For the next two seasons, his program won’t be competing for the chance to play in the postseason and he’ll also lose 30 scholarships over the next three years. He also has the daunting task of recruiting players who know that the Trojans won’t be playing in a bowl game until 2012 and now his juniors and seniors can transfer without fear of sitting out a full year.

It’s unfair to the current Trojans players that because two sports marketers pampered Reggie Bush, they won’t have the opportunity to play in a bowl game over the next two years. I wouldn’t blame any of them for wanting to jump ship and start fresh elsewhere, although I’m sure Kiffin is doing all he can to keep them right where they’re at. If he doesn’t, who knows what kind of a team he’ll be able to field over the next two seasons.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Watch the drama before the Lane Kiffin press conference [video]

This video was taken before Lane Kiffin sat down to speak to the Knoxville media about his decision to leave Tennessee to take the USC job. One television reporter (or producer?) doesn’t want to agree to Kiffin’s terms. It’s pretty funny to watch thirty people trip over each other trying to get a stupid press conference started.

Three USC players ineligible for Emerald Bowl

According to SI.com, USC will be without three of their players for the Emerald Bowl because of academic issues. Tailback Joe McKnight will also miss the game due to an investigation.

“He has some paperwork he needs to do and it’s best for him to stay in LA so he can be available to finish it,” Trojans coach Pete Carroll said.

Carroll did not have a timetable for McKnight’s return.

“We don’t know right now how long this will take,” he said.

USC has previously said it was said it was investigating whether McKnight used an SUV registered to a Los Angeles businessman. The Trojans also declared three players academically ineligible on Monday.

Tight end Anthony McCoy and tackle Tyron Smith, both starters, and defensive end Averell Spicer, a key reserve, will not play Dec. 26 in San Francisco.

What a nightmare of a season for USC. It’s bad enough that they find themselves playing in the Emerald Bowl at this time of year, but to have three of their players become illegible and one more under investigation is embarrassing.

Pete Carroll is already viewing this as the “forgotten” season.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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