Of Pete’s Image, ‘Baby’ Love and the NCAA’s ‘Balance’
Nothing has taken a bigger hit in the aftermath of the NCAA’s sacking of USC than Pete Carroll’s image.
The coach responsible for one of the finest nine-year runs in recent college football history comes away from all this with a lot of Seattle mud splattered in his face.
Carroll not only was in charge when all the infractions occurred, he dictated the “campus environment surrounding the violations” that specifically disturbed the rules committee . And now, the fact he ran off to the NFL and a $7 million-a-year contract leaving his old school, his former fans and many of the players he recruited in the lurch only makes him look worse.
His video reaction, if you haven’t seen it, tells a lot. Carroll appeared ashen-faced and said he was “absolutely shocked” at the severity of the sanctions (two-year bowl ban, 30 scholarships etc.) “The facts don’t match the sanctions,” he said. “I feel bad for the Trojan family. As always, we’ll keep our heads up and keep fighting.”
Uh, I hate to break this to you, Pete, but I don’t think you count as part of the “we” anymore.
Now that it has all come down, it is difficult to believe that Carroll didn’t sense what was happening. I was among those who didn’t think he was “bailing” when the Seahawks offered him what seemed like the perfect job with full control.
I can’t say that anymore. He always preached that you hung in there and battled and that champions are at their best when things get tough.
Well, things are very tough at USC right now, and there is no denying one thing about Pete Carroll.
He is now safely ensconced, wrapped in a protective bubble in Seattle, while his old friends are left to battle on their own in downtown L.A.
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And a Baby shall lead them.
I’m sure I won’t be the only one to use that line today, but it fits. Glen “Baby” Davis was the difference in Boston’s 96-89 victory in Game 4 of the NBA Finals to even the series at two apiece.
Actually, it was Davis, the heavyweight center, and Nate Robinson, the lightweight flea, who came off the bench to knock off the Lakers. Doc Rivers has people he can count on in relief. Phil Jackson doesn’t, especially with Andrew Bynum’s knee limiting his minutes.
So when the game came down to the fourth quarter Thursday night, the Celtics had fresh bodies on the floor, and the Lakers didn’t. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol looked tired as Davis threw his considerable weight around in the paint and Robinson flitted here and there to create havoc.
In a seven-game series, it sometimes can come down to attrition. It did in Game 4 in Boston.
The Lakers better hope the trend doesn’t continue the rest of the way.
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Here is an interesting contrast to chew on about the NCAA.
Between 1993 and 1998, a woman named Kim Dunbar was an admitted Notre Dame booster who was convicted of embezzling her former employer for $1.4 million. Ms. Dunbar then took much of that money and used it to purchase gifts and trips for various Notre Dame players.
At USC, Reggie Bush was the only player involved in this week’s sanctions. Back then, there were no less than eight Irish players involved, including one who eventually fathered a child with Dunbar.
So for having eight players caught taking gifts and trips and who knows what else from a booster, what do you think Notre Dame’s sanctions were from the NCAA back then?
Try this: The university was put on probation for two years and it was penalized ONE scholarship each for the two-year period.
That’s right. For having a single celebrated player and his parents accept cash, a car and assorted other items from an agent, USC gets a two-year bowl ban, the loss of 30 scholarships and probation.
For having EIGHT players accept gifts and trips not from an agent, but from an acknowledged booster, the Irish get away with sanctions that are as limp as the team’s record has been of late.
The NCAA is amazing. This, apparently, is their idea of being fair and balanced.
— Steve Bisheff