Sep 28, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils safety Shane McCullen (29) and safety Alden Darby (4) tackle USC Trojans wide receiver Marqise Lee (9) during the second half at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

USC Football: NCAA Sanctions Have Crippled Trojans, Literally

Oct 19, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Cam McDaniel (33) is tackled by Southern California Trojans linebacker Dion Bailey (18) at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame defeated USC 14-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 19, 2013; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Cam McDaniel (33) is tackled by Southern California Trojans linebacker Dion Bailey (18) at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame defeated USC 14-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Five years ago, when the NCAA handed down the most devastating penalties since SMU’s death penalty, they did so with the intention of crippling the USC Trojans. The most dominant team of the century up until then, USC was banned from post-season play for two years in addition to being docked ten scholarships a year for three years, totaling 30 scholarships over the sanctions period.

Those Trojans have one more season of sanctions remaining and it has become increasingly clear that the NCAA got their wish. Though it is doubtful the NCAA intended that crippling to be quite so literal.

The USC offense could double as a triage unit this season. Four of the five leaders in all-purpose yards will have missed at least one game due to injury heading into the game against Utah. In order, Tre Madden is fighting a hamstring, Marqise Lee sprained his knee, Justin Davis tweaked his ankle and Silas Redd missed the first five games after off-season knee surgery.

Nelson Agholor, who is second in all-purpose yards, gave Trojan fans a scare when he stayed down after a crushing blow on what turned out to be USC’s final offensive play on Saturday and remains one of USC’s few healthy scholarship receivers.

It’s not just the main men who have had trouble staying on the field. USC will take the field this coming Saturday with just one scholarship tight end. Both Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer have been ruled out against Utah with injury. The Trojan passing game has suffered further with ankle injuries slowing wide outs Darreus Rogers, De’Von Flournoy and Victor Blackwell. Meanwhile back up running back Ty Isaac has been limited in practice while veteran DJ Morgan has been unavailable all season.

On the defensive side of the ball, things look only slightly better. USC’s leading pass rusher Morgan Breslin has missed two games this season. Starting cornerback Anthony Brown missed five. Kevon Seymour has been limited after injuring his leg against Hawaii. Devian Shelton, who vied for a starting cornerback spot before going down injured, has been ruled out for the season with a foot problem, as has defensive lineman Greg Townsend Jr. with a knee injury.

Injuries are a part of life in football, but most teams aren’t contending with a roster as limited as USC’s. On top of all those players forced off the field, the Trojans are without an additional 20 scholarship players and have to contend with a total roster limit of 75 because of the NCAA.

When they traveled to face Arizona State in September, the Trojans brought just 56 scholarship players. That same week USC Athletic Director Pat Haden petitioned the NCAA for relief from scholarship reductions on the basis of player safety.

“We proposed creative ‘outside the box’ solutions to the scholarship issues resulting from the injuries and transfers experienced by our football team over the past three seasons,” Haden said. “Because time is of the essence regarding these issues, we have asked for the NCAA’s response as soon as practical.”

The NCAA, of course, told USC to pound sand and the injury issues have only gotten worse. Thinned ranks mean less wiggle room to allow players to heal fully as a single injury could mean the difference between starting a scholarship player who has been there for years and a walk on whose contributions to the team would ideally be on the practice field or a freshman who isn’t ready physically or mentally for the college game. The players USC lacks could fill an extra line on the depth chart across nearly every position.

In light of the penalties that have been levied against Miami this morning, loss of nine scholarships over three years, the injuries hurt even more. While schools with violations, most of which arguably outweigh the infractions of USC, get off with slaps on the wrist, the men of Troy pay the price with their bodies.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Justin Davis Marqise Lee Morgan Breslin Randall Telfer Tre Madden USC Trojans Xavier Grimble

  • Maynard Gross

    It doesn’t seem right that the NCAA should issue sanctions which have the effect of guaranteeing more injuries to remaining players.

    • Matthew Moreno

      I don’t believe the NCAA handed down sanctions that they thought or hoped would lead to so many players being injured.

      That would mean the NCAA would actually have foresight and think things through and well…

      However, when Haden and Nikias recently approached them, the writing was on the wall. The fact that they weren’t willing cut USC some slack was wrong.

      Their quick ruling created the perception that not much thought was even given to Haden’s plea, and that is also troubling.

      • Mick Rose

        Sue the Ba$tards!!!!!!

  • Tool Box

    Give it a rest. Kiffin left how many scholarships on the table the past to seasons due to poor recruiting? He could have taken 15 each year, but he took 9 and 12.

    Bush, Mayo, McKnight, Jefferson, 4 players from two moneys sports, over two eras. USC was a 7 time major violation offender, just coming off of sanctions for a test taking scandal. Mike Garrett thumbing his nose at the NCAA investigation, publicly stating that the NCAA is just jealous that they are not Trojans.

    While the sanctions were tough, USC is paying the price for what went on under Garret and Carrol.

    • America2014

      You made it up

    • Mick Rose

      Paul Dee
      & the Nc2a

      NBC Sports

      Anoesis says:

      Oct 22, 2013 10:47

      The Paul Dee saga of hypocrisy continues to decimate the

      Dee was the head of the NCAA Committee on Infractions
      during the USC hearings, getting that job after quitting as Athletic Director
      at Miami in ’08.

      USC’s football case was about one person, Reggie Bush,
      and USC’s basketball case was about one person, OJ Mayo.

      Miami’s case involved 72 players over nearly a decade of
      willful disregard for NCAA rules.

      Isn’t it ironic that Dee was the AD at Miami during what
      NCAA investigators have called the worst violation of the rules they have ever

      Both the Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo issues at USC involved
      agents trying to secure their patronage once these vaunted players went pro.
      This is not a competitive advantage.

      Miami, during the watch of Dee on the other hand, was
      involved in an eight-year, 72 player pay-for-play scandal that involved all
      manner of illegal activities as well as bonuses for bounties on competition
      such as Florida quarterback Tim Tebow and a three-year standing bounty on
      Florida State quarterback Chris Rix. Those were most certainly competitive

      Dee was also AD during the Pell Grant scandal in 1995.
      Eighty students, 57 of whom were football players, falsified their Pell Grant
      applications, illegally securing more than $220,000 in federal grant money.
      Federal officials described the scam as “perhaps the largest centralized fraud
      … ever committed in the history of the Pell Grant program.”

      Now, consider the fact that Dee, as Chairman of the NCAA
      Committee on Infractions, sat in judgment of USC when they presented their case
      for leniency before the NCAA in the matter of Reggie Bush. USC’s now
      much-mocked defense was that we (loosely) “did not know, could not be expected
      to know.”

      Dee, who famously sat on the NCAA’s Committee on
      Infractions (while infractions committed during his reign as AD and were still
      being committed at Miami) famously told USC that even though the extra benefits
      a wannabe sports agent paid to Reggie Bush’s family happened in San Diego, some
      130 miles from campus, USC “should have known” it was happening.

      Fifty seven football players stole money from the Pell
      Grant program, but Dee didn’t know.

      Shapiro’s support of Miami football and basketball
      players was right under Dee and University President Donna Shalala’s noses, but
      they didn’t know.

      Shapiro got into a physical fight with the U’s director
      of compliance in the press box at a Miami football game. Dee didn’t know.

      Shapiro paid for Devin Hester’s girlfriend’s engagement
      ring, got the stripper another player got pregnant an abortion, made his home
      and his yacht available for parties and provided cars and clothes and cash and
      VIP club access. Dee didn’t know.

      Yet, while hammering USC for “not knowing,” Dee & Co.
      used the exact same excuse for violations at Miami that made USC’s look
      infinitesimal in comparison.

      I’d love to thank Paul Dee in person, but fortunately
      that hypocritical piece of shit died last year. The biggest irony of all is
      that the Trojans are now decimated personnel-wise because of Dee’s draconian
      elimination of 30 scholarships, while the school whose athletic department he
      headed as it spent years cheating its ass off gets away with losing all of nine.

      Anoesis says:

      Oct 23, 2013 7:34

      Credit where credit is due: A lot of that stuff came from
      Bleacher Report and there’s plenty more posted recently regarding the Todd
      McNair lawsuit against the NCAA (several legal minds say he has a good case for
      defamation) as well as the possibility of USC filing suit regarding the grossly
      unfair sanctions for the Bush/Mayo situation.

      To be clear, I wish Miami no ill will. If I were a fan
      I’d be glad that was all behind the team. My problem is an NCAA that is pathetically
      incompetent and grotesquely out of control. If they had any integrity
      whatsoever they would have revisited the penalties imposed on USC in light of
      the obvious conflict of interest Paul Dee brought to that organization as the
      former AD at Miami.

      A couple final thoughts regarding that fine character

      ESPN’s Ted Miller pointed out Dee’s hypocritical
      statements regarding USC’s violations while more severe violations were being
      committed under his watch while serving as Miami’s athletic director:

      “Here he waxed sell-righteously — and inaccurately — over
      the USC case: ‘This case strikes at the heart of the principles of amateurism.’
      (Inaccurate because booster pay-for-play strikes at the heart of amateurism,
      not agents trying to lure players AWAY from amateurism).”

      Even more compelling is that Dee’s former employer
      (Miami) benefited from the sanctions he oversaw as the Committee On
      Infraction’s chair—the No. 1 prospect in USC’s 2010 recruiting class (according
      to, among others), Seantrel Henderson, decommitted from USC after the
      sanctions were doled out and eventually signed with Miami.

      Justice can be a slippery bastard and I don’t expect that
      USC will get any from the NCAA without a long and costly lawsuit, but if they
      do choose to sue then for the first time in college football history nobody
      would be rooting against the Trojans.

      Fight On!

  • carlosatUCLA

    I don’t necessarily see how the sanctions injured those players. It’s not like USC would be much better if they had freshmen backing them up, or even went out with upperclassmen backups.

    • Alicia de Artola

      It’s about having extra bodies, in practice and in games. More rotation means less chance of injury. More scholarship level athletes means players can take the time to get healthy properly instead of rushing back because they know their position is thin.
      Sanctions didn’t injure the players, but they contributed to the environment that has resulted in so many.

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