Commentary: Henderson Looks to Void Letter of Intent


The Pioneer Press (Minnesota) is reporting that Seantrel Henderson, the best offensive tackle in the country, is in Miami on a visit. Furthermore, there is speculation that Henderson will petition the NCAA to void the letter of intent he signed with USC. If the request is granted, Henderson would be able to play for Miami right away instead of having to sit out a season. As his basis for appeal, Henderson plans to assert that Lane Kiffin lied to him by claiming USC would not receive any major sanctions.

First and foremost, USC can’t give in to Henderson by releasing him from his letter of intent. As they have done in the past few weeks, the Trojan coaching staff must continue to make Henderson feel wanted and welcome. Unfortunately, their credibility is on thin ice, but there are a few arguments USC can make in its favor. For starters, Henderson can come in and play immediately for USC. If he goes to Miami, he will lose a year. Secondly, Henderson will only miss out on one game because of the penalties. Although USC won’t go bowling in 2010, they will play thirteen games as they did last year. In the end, two bowl games should not be a major deterrent for choosing Miami over USC. With all due respect to the ‘Canes, USC gets much more media exposure and has a much better chance to be a national title contender than Miami over the course of Henderson’s career. Finally, there is reason to believe USC can emerge from these penalties with only a few bumps and bruises. So far, the recruiting class for 2010 has remained in tact, and USC continues to pick up commitments for 2011. With the talent continuing to stockpile, Henderson will be surrounded by high-caliber players.

From the NCAA’s perspective, they need to laugh at this request and deny it. How could Lane Kiffin possibly know the extent of the penalties levied against USC? Even “expert” analysts for respected media outlets such as ESPN predicted a light sentence for the Trojans. It will be impossible to prove that Kiffin knew exactly what the penalties would be and that he blatantly lied to Henderson and his family. Every other player in the 2010 class has accepted the penalties and the transfer rules surrounding them. No one else has petitioned the NCAA because they understand how the system works and have loyalty to the school they committed to. Obviously, Kiffin has to put the best spin on things that he possibly can. Once again, Henderson is seeking publicity and looking to make a name for himself before he ever steps onto the field by voiding his letter of intent and setting a precedent. If the NCAA grants Henderson his release, it opens up a whole new avenue for a mass exodus of players at USC. Any recruit can claim Kiffin told them not to worry. The sanctions surely had to have been a topic recruits asked about, and Kiffin had to deny any heavy penalties and be optimistic. The NCAA looked to decimate the USC program with the harsh and excessive penalties it levied on June 10. Validating Henderson’s laughable claim would just throw salt on the already existing wounds.