Late Tuesday night, USC announced the fate of freshmen DE Leonard Williams, who had been ejected from USC’s game against Colorado for throwing a punch at an opponent, an offense that is subject to further Pac-12 review to determine punishment, if necessary. Williams has been dangling over hot water since then, but it appears he no longer has a reason to sweat:
USC freshman DT Leonard Williams was not suspended by the PAC-12 Conference. He is available to play Saturday at Arizona.
— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) October 24, 2012
The university’s athletic department sent this tweet out around 8:30 p.m., indicating that Williams avoided a further penance. On Saturday, it was initially thought Williams would be automatically suspended for the flagrant foul but later determined that the conference would have to review it. In an interesting turn, Pac-12 officials declined to inflict a suspension beyond Williams’ ejection against Colorado.
Interesting, because based on past events, the Pac-12 has come down hard on USC for extremely minor offenses.
Last season, Trojan QB Matt Barkley was publicly reprimanded for comments he made about then-Arizona State Sun Devil Vontaze Burfict, who Barkley referred to as “a dirty player”. Later in the season, S T.J. McDonald had to serve a half-game suspension against Colorado for a hit he made on a Stanford wide receiver, a hit that many argued was fierce, but completely clean and legal. But Williams, who threw a punch in an unbecoming display of immaturity, avoids a fate similar or worse to those. In his defense, Williams claimed to have been spit on by the player that he attempted to punch.
Maybe the Pac-12 felt the need to closely monitor USC while it served their bowl ban and now that that shackle has been removed, the conference is taking its foot off the brake a bit. Whatever the reason, the Trojans are likely relieved to have Williams against Arizona, another game that is shaping up to be a tough road challenge.