USC Sticks It To Itself

Posted by jstevrtc on January 4th, 2010

Earlier today USC announced the self-imposed penalties to shield their football their basketball program, stemming from the whole O.J. Mayo/Rodney Guillory situation.  Guillory, an events promoter in Los Angeles who seems to frequently be involved with high school basketball players making their way to college, helped guide Mayo to USC during Mayo’s recruitment, and allegedly acted as a bagman between a sports agency and Mayo with thousands of dollars of cash and merchandise finding its way into Mayo’s hands.  You probably recall that former USC coach Tim Floyd was accused of greasing Guillory’s palm to the tune of a thousand bucks for his services, and quickly repaired to the NBA’s New Orleans Hornets about fourteen seconds after that accusation was publicly made.  Mayo’s end of the  bargain in all of this (besides playing ball) was that he’d sign with the agency Guillory was “representing.”  All of this is alleged, of course — though Mayo did indeed sign with that agency after he left USC after one year for the 2008 NBA Draft.

The big daddy among the sanctions that USC is self-imposing is that there will be  no postseason this year at all — no Pac-10 Tournament, no NCAA.  It has also vacated all 21 of their wins from the 2007-08 Season of Mayo, and will give back the dough they “earned” from their first-round loss to Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament that year.

Look at that last paragraph again, and behold the inherent logical absurdity.  We’ll return the tournament cash and vacate the wins from 2007-08…but we won’t go to the post-season this year.  In other words, what happened was in the past, and as part of the mea culpa, we’re punishing people involved in our program today.

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Filth Flarn Floyd…

Posted by rtmsf on June 10th, 2009

The news came out early this evening that USC head coach Tim Floyd has formally resigned from his post as top Trojan.  In a one-paragraph letter written to his AD, and interestingly, released to the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger, Floyd stated:

As of 1 p.m. today, I am resigning as head basketball coach at the University of Southern California. I deeply appreciate the opportunity afforded me by the university, as well as the chance to know and work with some of the finest young men in college athletics.  Unfortunately, I know longer feel I can offer the level of enthusiasm to my duties that is deserved by the university, my coaching staff, my players, their families, and the supporters of Southern Cal. I always promised my self and my family that if I ever felt I could no longer give my full enthusiasm to a job, that I should leave it to others who could. I intend to contact my coaching staff and my players in coming days and weeks to tell them how much each of them means to me. I wish the best to USC and to my successor.

And richest young men.  When reports surfaced last month that Floyd paid cashmoney directly to OJ Mayo’s handlers in order to get him to Troy, his fate was pretty much sealed.  And for lack of a better word, how retarded must he feel now after he turned down a lucrative offer to coach at Arizona this spring?  Or his alma mater LSU a year ago?  Like Kelvin Sanctions before him and John Calipari at present, Floyd clearly hasn’t figured out that the key to long-term success along the blurred edges is to stay one step ahead of the NCAA gumshoes.

00735158_oklahoma_v_usc

Instead of Floyd’s lasting legacy at USC becoming a deep tournament run led by OJ Mayo and  his SuperFriends, it will now instead be sullied ruminations of the urchin Rodney Guillory and a stack of benjamins handed over on a corner in Beverly Hills, just another soulless transaction like so many others on LA street corners in a given day.  But  if you think about the whole sordid affair, who ever believed that Mayo, a kid who had never expressed a bit of interest in the Pac-10 throughout his prep career, suddenly became enamored with the City of Angels without so much as a recruiting visit?  Who out there bought into that yarn that Floyd often related about Guillory showing up at his office one day ‘offering’ Mayo, and letting the coach know that ‘ OJ will call you,’ not the other way around?  The whole thing was farked from the get-go, and anyone with any sensibility about how this sport works knew it.

USC fans don’t seem very surprised, and they’re already pushing several names – Jamie Dixon (with his SoCal ties), Craig Robinson, Mark Few, Lon Kruger, Randy Bennett – but whoever takes this job will be entering a post-apocalyptic war zone, not unlike what Tom Crean found at Indiana last season, with  little to no hope and even fewer players.  The key difference between the situations, of course, is that there’s an awful lot more things to do in LA than there are in Bloomington, and this particular school isn’t exactly known for its hardwood glory (as IU is).  Still, the resources are there to become successful and god knows there’s enough prep talent in LA (even after UCLA takes theirs) to support another top 25 program.  But it’ll take the right person to get the job done there, someone who has the charisma and personality to sell the program to a fickle crowd as well as an ability to genuinely interest recruits on the school for reasons that don’t involve payment plans.  At least one commentator isn’t sure that it can happen.  He’s probably right.

Now, about that Reggie Bush thing…

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05.26.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 26th, 2009

It’s been a while since we updated things (Wall to Kentucky), so let’s get caught up this evening…

  • RIP Wayman. You’ve undoubtedly heard the sad news about 44-year old Wayman Tisdale’s passing on May 15.  Obviously, we never met Tisdale, but everyone agrees that he was a person who touched the lives of many through his athletic and musical career.  ESPN takes a look back here, and CNNSI reflected on his legacy in the state of Oklahoma here.   Jeff Goodman tells a story about Tisdale following through on a promise to a budding jouralist (him).   Tisdale’s public memorial service was last Wednesday.
  • Smoke, then Fire.  We mentioned previously that it’s unfathomable to us that USC wouldn’t take Renardo Sidney, given their astonishing and proven ability to look the other way.  Maybe they knew that Rodney Guillory’s associate, Louis Johnson, was chirping like a parrot to anyone who will listen that he witnessed Tim Floyd handing Guillory a cool grand in return for the delivery of OJ Mayo.  Now Mayo’s talking to the feds about Guillory, and at least one writer thinks the whole darned ship is going up in flames.  The million-dollar question is whether the NCAA investigators have the sack to do it.  (our response: yes, but half-assed).  Update: Noel Johnson, a 2009 signee, left the program today, leaving Dwight Lewis, and um, Lil Romeo?
  • Transfers. Iowa’s Jeff Peterson (11 ppg) will transfer to Arkansas for the 2010-11 season; Indiana’s Nick Williams (9/5) will return to the South to play for Ole Miss (he was the Alabama POY in 2008); and, Clark Kellogg’s kid, Alex, will leave Providence for Ohio University (Bobcats, not Buckeyes) to play his senior season.  In corollary news, Oklahoma’s Juan Pattillo was shown the door by Jeff Capel for undisclosed team violations.
  • NBA Draft News.  Duke’s Gerald Henderson made it official and signed with an agent, forgoing his final year in Durham.  Xavier’s Derrick Brown, a borderline first-rounder, is highly unlikely to return to XU next season.  Meanwhile, word last week was that Florida’s Nick Calathes signed a contract for $1.1M/year (+ a home, car and tax credits) to play in Greece (where he holds dual citizenship), and Clemson’s Terrence Oglesby is leaving school after his sophomore year to pursue a pro career in Europe (he’s also a dual citizen with Norway).  Southern Miss’s Jeremy Wise will not return either.  BYU’s Jonathan Tavernari decided to wise up and will return to the Cougs for his senior season, as will Arkansas leading scorer Michael Washington.  FYI, now that the draft lottery is set (Clips win!), the new mocks are coming out.  Here’s NBADraft.net’s Top 14.
  • Obligatory Kentucky News.  It’s out with the old and in with the new, as three scholarship at Kentucky are given the pink slip to make room for Calipari’s motherlode of talent.  The buzz is already loud for Kentucky as the preseason #1 next year, but we’re a little surprised Jodie Meeks hasn’t made his decision yet (he’s unlikely to move up to the first round).
  • Coaching News.  Illinois top man Bruce Weber got a $500k raise and a three-year extension based on his stellar work in Champaign last season.  Villanova’s Jay Wright talked to and then withdrew from the search for a new Philadelphia 76ers head man.  Wazzu’s new man Ken Bone signed with the school for seven years and $650k per year, according to school records.   Michigan’s John Beilein will chair the NCAA’s Ethics Comittee, featuring Johnny Dawkins, Jeff Capel and the omnipresent Dave Odom…  does anyone else find it odd that Beilein’s charge here is to clarify the rules as written, even though he used legal loopholes to get out of his stated buyout with WVU when he left for greener pastures?   Finally, here’s a rather-suspect list of the top ten coaches in America today – it omits Bill Self and John Calipari, which leads us to believe that the author did not watch the 2008 national championship game.
  • Other Errata.  CJ Henry is officially enrolled at Kansas and will get to play with his brother, super-wing Xavier Henry, next season in Lawrence.
  • Former Tennessee guard Ramar Smith (whom Coach Bruce Pearl kicked off the team in 2008) was arrested for robbery (the holy trinity: money, guns and marijuana) last week, and he’s currently awaiting trial.
  • Luke Winn gives us a glimpse at what Mississippi St. will look like next year (with John Riek and Renardo Sidney in the fold).
  • Please tell us that some irate Kentucky fan with rivers of money will buy these and burn them.
  • What WILL we do with those nefarious message board posters!?!?
  • Campbell University will rejoin the Big South (its former home until 1994), leaving the Atlantic Sun after the 2010-11 academic year.
  • The Big Sky is moving to a Friday/Saturday conference weekend model to save costs beginning next season.
  • This is a sad story, but we’re glad that the authorities found this Olympic champion safe and sound.
  • Well, sucks for them (next, USC?).
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US…C.Y.A.

Posted by rtmsf on May 21st, 2008

Now that the gumshoes (an overly generous term if ever there was one) over at the WWL have pretty much made the case for the NCAA that OJ Mayo was taking improper benefits both before and during his short stint at USC, TrojanLand is doing all it can to respond in the most American of ways – by covering their ass.

 

Look Who’s Coming, Trojans!  (photo credit: AP)

Anticpating an imminent NCAA investigation – after all, Myles Brand ain’t nobody’s chump – USC is battoning down the hatches and getting its story together.  According to the LA Daily News:

USC intends to tell the NCAA it knew of no wrongdoing involving O.J. Mayo and banned his mentor, Rodney Guillory, from receiving tickets as an illustration of its attempt to prevent the basketball star from receiving any improper benefits, according to sources.  That will be the outline of the university’s defense, according to officials familiar with the situation.  “Right now, we’re just trying to weather the storm,” said a USC official, who asked not to be identified.

Sounds reasonable enough.  Guillory, the man who gold-foil giftwrapped Mayo for USC, wasn’t allowed to receive tickets to games.  We’re not sure exactly what that proves, as we suppose he could have simply bought tickets off of Craigslist like everyone else.  But what about this little piece of prejudicial information?

But there remain some questions to this defense. Guillory was frequently seen in the basketball offices and also around the locker room, and regularly attended pickup games at the Galen Center when Mayo played last summer. 

So USC’s defense is that they didn’t provide game tickets to Guillory, where unless he was literally sitting in the huddle he wouldn’t have been able to communicate with Mayo anyway; BUT, Guillory was allowed to loiter around the locker room, the basketball offices and the pickup games (where he could ostensibly run into Mayo at any moment).  We’s no lawyerin type, but that sounds like troubles in Troy. 

Of course, it IS the typically-befuddled NCAA we’re talking about.  They might start investigating USC and end up putting UCLA on probation. 

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More Mayo 1-and-Done Nonsense…

Posted by rtmsf on May 14th, 2008

We keep reading all of these arguments in light of the OJ Mayo controversy about how the 1-and-done rule is a joke, about how it punishes the athletes, about how it makes unwitting (or is it witting?) accomplices of the schools in the whole charade, about how peace and prosperity and all things good and holy are tied into the elimination of this silly rule… and we stop and wonder.  Why the uproar?  Actually, what we meant to say is, why the uproar now?

If all of these pundits maligning the 1-and-done rule haven’t noticed, OJ Mayo isn’t the first kid who was being handled by an agent throughout his college career, and guess what, he won’t be the last.  We already know that Rodney Guillory was handling Jeff Trepagnier and Tito Maddox in the early 2000s, well before the 1-and-done rule was implemented.  We know that Reggie Bush played at USC for three collegiate years and the agents still got their hooks into him.  If writers such as this guy, or this guy, or this guy, really believe that by letting the Lebrons and KGs and Odens go pro straight out of HS eliminates the problem with agents and runners contacting and influencing college players, then LOLOLOLOL on them. 

Their complaints aren’t flat wrong, but they’re misattributed.  Why?  Because there are players right now on nearly every major D1 school across the country who have been contacted by and have talked to agents.  Guaranteed.  Some of them have probably taken a few gifts here and there.  Does eliminating the handful of 1-and-dones from college campuses each year solve that problem?  Not at all.  The agents will then just focus on the next tier of college players – the Chris Douglas-Robertses, the Deron Wiliamses, the Jordan Farmars.  The problem isn’t solved, it’s merely shifted.   

 

The Commish Loves the Free Marketing the NCAA Provides

Look, here’s our point.  The 1-and-done rule is stupid for certain, but it’s not stupid because of the OJ Mayo problem.  It’s stupid because it places all of the risk on the players and colleges for the benefit of the NBA evaluation process.  Nevertheless, it’s not going anywhere until 2011, and early indications are that Comandante Stern wants to tack another year onto the age minimum and the NBAPA is unlikely to battle that point.  So then we’ll have 2-and-dones, which isn’t all that dissimilar from the NFL rule currently in existence (3 yrs).  But whether there’s a 1-year rule, 2-year rule, 3-year rule or 4-year rule, the problem begins with the corrupt and criminal AAU basketball system in this country and the agents that feed off of it.  These folks will not remove their grimy hands from the pockets of college basketball until there are no longer players on which they think they can ride to fortune.  In other words, never.  While there have been dozens of players drafted in the first round in the preps-to-pros era (the current 1-and-dones), there were far more early-entry sophomores and juniors over that same period.  It won’t go away, no matter what these people are saying (well, at least one commentator gets it). 

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Another Culprit in the Mayo Mess

Posted by rtmsf on May 13th, 2008

In the effluvia of the OJ Mayo report from Outside the Lines (you remember, he took money and gifts from street runner Rodney Guillory, acting as a proxy for the Bill Duffy Agency) the other night, there has been a cacophany of predictable kneejerk reactions from every corner of the media universe. 

Tim Floyd and USC are to blame!

The NBA’s 1-and-done rule is to blame!

The NCAA’s lax enforcement is to blame!

AAU basketball, or even worse – the system - is to blame!

There’s a lot of culpability being thrown around by the various pundits, and with good reason on many counts, but we’d like to proffer another culprit that few in the MSM have been willing to indict - their own 4th Estate, the so-called watchdogs of the community.  We in the blogosphere have been told repeatedly by those in pedigreed positions of media power that what separates us from them is the simple concept of access.  While we can riff on the same televised game that a USC beat writer for the LA Times can, he has a level of access to players, coaches and administrators that we do not (from our parents’ basement), thereby rendering his reporting more valuable than ours.  Or so the story goes.

 

While we completely agree that level of access of which the MSM has to sports figures makes our job different than theirs, there also must exist a certain amount of responsibility for said journalists to follow up on rumors, whispers and innuendo that such access enables.  Because of the difficulty for a blogger to gain entree into a circle of coaches willing to speak off the record to a trusted journalist, we expect that the writer will not simply wink and nod with the rest and ultimately let it slide into oblivion.  After all, isn’t the journalist’s role to not only report the news, but investigate it? 

Gregg Doyel wrote nineteen months ago that USC should be wary of Mayo due to his relationship with Rodney Guillory – that’s a great start.  Did anyone else follow up on this accusation of impropriety?  Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times recounts a conversation with two prominent coaches he had about recruiting Mayo during his prep days:

“It’s not even a consideration,” one coach said.  “You don’t even understand how many problems that could cause,” the other said.  Back then, there was much fear about Mayo’s large circle of friends. There were whispers that he had already been bought, a common rumor about prep basketball stars.

If there were whispers among prominent coaches about Mayo, and the writers knew about it, why didn’t anyone investigate it?  Where was the local watchdog, the award-winning LA Times investigative staff on this story?  It’s not like outing Mayo, the “next Lebron” at one time during his HS career, wouldn’t have been a prime catch.  How hard could it have been? – the Big Lead even gave the MSM a roadmap in March 2007 - you have Mayo associated with Guillory; you know that Guillory is a runner for an agent who already got USC player Jeff Trepagnier and Fresno St. player Tito Maddox in hot water several years ago; and you know the weird circumstances of Mayo’s “recruitment” to USC.  What more do you need to look deeper into this steaming hunk of  brown mess??

And yet, to our knowledge, until the OTL piece on Sunday by ESPN’s Kelly Naqi after Mayo’s college career was all-but-finished, the MSM’s inertia effectively made certain that Mayo will never face any sanctions over this scandal.  As for USC… well, we’re still waiting to hear their penalties from the Reggie Bush situation a few years back.  Just keep in mind among all the yelling about blame this week that if someone, anyone, in the MSM had been doing their job a year ago, Mayo would have never suited up for USC in the first place.  The NCAA plans on watching college basketball recruiting a little more closely, but given its limited enforcement resources, perhaps all the doomsday rhetoric being thrown around as a result of this fiasco will inspire our MSM friends to include a little more self-awareness of their watchdog role next time. 

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No more OJs at USC?

Posted by nvr1983 on May 12th, 2008

I’m not even sure where to begin with this post. Here at RTC, we have discussed OJ Mayo several times most recently in what rtmsf myopically thought would be a final retrospective on the latest OJ to grace the USC campus. As pretty much everyone knows by now Mayo has been implicated in a rather large scandal involving Bill Duffy Agency (BDA) and Rodney Guillory, who appears to have been essentially hired by BDA to bring Mayo to them.

Most of my knowledge on the topic comes from Kelly Naqi’s Outside the Lines report I saw on Sunday morning while I was staying at a beach resort so this isn’t going to be some deep NY Times investigative piece that some of you may be expecting from RTC–we’ll work on that over the summer. Instead, I think it’s more interesting to consider the impact this will have on USC and recruiting/college basketball in general given the hype that Mayo brought with him to USC and the manner in which he handled his recruitment of USC–yes, the way he recruited USC.

Will OJ still be welcome at the USC campus?

According to the OTL report, Guillory gave Mayo cash,  a flat-screen television, cell phones, hotel rooms, clothes, meals, and airline tickets. Given Mayo’s celebrity status, it’s pretty hard to believe that Tim Floyd and others at USC didn’t notice this was going on. Some prescient writers like Gregg Doyel even warned USC about the specific threat as early as 2006, but USC never did anything about it. Floyd and USC just looked the other way and hoped nobody else would notice or at least that nobody would give them up while they raked in the money from the increased attendance and sales of Mayo’s jerseys. The transgressions are not at the same level as those involving Reggie Bush’s family at USC, but these directly involved a player (Mayo) while the majority of the financial benefit in the Bush situation appears to have been reaped by Bush’s parents who stayed at a million dollar house essentially for free.

The big question now is what the NCAA will do about it. There have been several reports over the past year that the NCAA has investigated Mayo thoroughly, but did not find anything. Given the amount of evidence presented in the OTL piece, it’s hard to imagine that the NCAA spent much time digging into Mayo if they never came across any of this stuff. Ever since Yahoo! Sports broke the Reggie Bush allegations, Internet message boards have been abuzz first with what sanctions would be levied against the Trojans and when none came with conspiracy theories about how the NCAA was protecting the Trojans while being much more harsh on other teams such as a dominant football power on the East Coast (Miami). Compounding the fans fury was the seeming indifference of the sports media outside of Yahoo! Sports (read: ESPN) to really go after USC. Fans claimed that ESPN was trying to protect its sacred cow as ESPN had hyped up the Trojans to the point where they ran a week-long segment on where the Trojans ranked historically even before their Rose Bowl game against Texas, which they lost thanks to a super-human performance by Vince Young (I Heart VY). Now that ESPN has decided to join the attack against USC, it will be interesting to see if the mainstream sports media will turn up the heat on the NCAA (still waiting for the SI cover asking USC to cancel its athletic program). For those of you who think I may be going too far, the list of transgressions by USC athletes goes far beyond Bush and Mayo and includes recent charges against athletes ranging from dealing drugs to weapons possession to sexual assault.

While I’m not on board with Pat Forde’s reactionary death penalty column, I think the NCAA should come down pretty hard on USC. I am not sure what the precedent is for multi-sport probation, but given the multiple transgressions by the USC football team and the Mayo fiasco that anybody could have seen coming, its pretty clear that the Athletic Director Mike Garrett has no control over his programs or doesn’t care as long as they win. I would think that a 1- or 2-year probation with a ban on postseason play would send a pretty clear message that the NCAA won’t tolerate this kind of behavior. However, I doubt the powers that be will punish USC that severely, but USC should at least have some scholarships taken away from them in addition to the ones they lost with their poor APR performance. If the NCAA fails to do that, the Internet and the parents’ basements that bloggers inhabit will be all over them and this time the mainstream sports media with ESPN’s support will be behind them.

The story about Mayo’s recruitment is well-known as an associate of his (Guillory) entered Tim Floyd’s office and offered Mayo and his “services” to USC. When Floyd asked for Mayo’s number to speak with him, he was told that Mayo would call him. Perhaps Guillory wanted to make sure Mayo stayed within the minute limits on the plans that Guillory was paying for. Hopefully, this fiasco will convince more coaches not to get involved in these situations as it was obvious from the beginning of this relationship who was in control. At least Floyd seemed in control over the team, but it won’t be too long before some 5-star comes in with his personal coach and pushes for certain personnel moves and demands that the offense runs through him so he can get his numbers to boost his draft status.

The final issue, and potentially the most important in terms of its overall effect on college basketball, is how this will affect the NCAA’s decision on the 1-and-done rule. It’s pretty obvious that Mayo and several other stars like Michael Beasley were never going to spend a minute more than required in college before jumping to the NBA. If it’s going to be like that for the next generation of college stars, I wonder if the trade-off is worth it. As much as opposing fans like to knock Tyler Hansbrough and J.J. Redick, they embody what we used to love about the college game with guys staying 4 years and developing their games and fans identifying teams with players and not just the coaches manning the sidelines. Unfortunately, Tyler and J.J. are not the caliber of player that we saw do that in the 1980s. College hoops fans need to face the reality that we will never see a Lebron James (would have finished his senior year last year) or Dwight Howard (would have finished his senior year this year) having those kind of historic college careers. The question is how much is it worth to bring in guys of that caliber (or Mayo who is clearly several steps below James or Howard) in for 1 year with the risk of it blowing up an athletic program like it threatens to do at USC now. Mayo’s career and eventual legacy at USC may go a long way in determining the future of this rule.

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