So You Had Good Seats For USC-Stanford Game?

No you didn’t.

Colin Cowherd seats for USC-Stanford football game at the L.A. Coliseum

Colin Cowherd did.

Colin Cowherd seats for USC-Stanford football game at the L.A. Coliseum

Can’t get much lower than that, eh?

Not to mention, those seats absolutely kill.

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Ex-NDer: Botched Penalty Walkoff That Cost USC

Sunday I noted the botched call by Pac-12 Referee Michael Batlan that likely cost USC an opportunity to attempt a game-winning field goal against Stanford in its eventual 56-48 triple-overtime loss to the Cardinal.

Former Notre Dame football player Rick DiBernardo botched penalty walkoff during USC-Stanford game in 2011

But as preposterous as that officiating error was, at least it involved a sliver of subjectivity.

You can’t say the same for the gross negligence shown by Batlan and a certain member of his officiating crew during a critical juncture in the second overtime.

Trailing USC 48-41 and in possession of the ball, Stanford was called for holding during a 2nd-and-5 play from the USC 20-yard line. The foul occurred at the line of scrimmage, which should’ve resulted in a 10-yard markoff against the Cardinal forcing Stanford’s offense into a 2nd-and-15 situation at the USC 30-yard line.

Strangely though, the ball was instead walked by Umpire Rick DiBernardo only back to the USC 22-yard line, somehow setting up a 2nd-and-7 play. So rather than penalize the potent Stanford offense - led by Heisman Trophy frontrunner Andrew Luck - 10 yards, the Cardinal was pushed back only two.

How could DiBernardo have made such an astonishing error?

Maybe his mind was wandering back to his days as a starting linebacker for Notre Dame during the ’80s.

UPDATE: For those wondering exactly where the holding penalty in question took place, here’s closeup video of what led to the epic, inexplicable blunder by game official - and former starting Notre Dame football player - Rick DiBernardo:

As the video shows, Stanford’s Geoff Meinken held USC’s Chris Galippo at the line of scrimmage from which Umpire DiBernardo should’ve walked off 10 yards to the USC 30-yard line.

Instead, DiBernardo spotted the ball at the 22-yard line, two yards behind the spot of the foul.

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Pac-12 Referee Who Kneeds Replacing: Part One

From the contents of the video below, it’s not unreasoonable to observe that there’s more than an insignificant chance that Pac-12 referee Michael Batlan affected the final outcome of the Stanford-USC game Saturday night at the L.A. Coliseum.

As if the above, abject incompentence wasn’t enough, stay tuned for Part Two.

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Video: Notre Dame Football Losing Thy Religion

Late Saturday night longtime local Notre Dame flagship television station WNDU briefly headlined its USC-Notre Dame highlights - narrated by sports anchor Angelo Di Carlo - with: “Crist Not The Savior.

The word play from the game, which saw ND fall 31-17, referred to the backfire visited upon the Irish after backup Notre Dame quarterback Dane Crist relieved QB Tommy Rees in the third quarter of the game following a knee injury suffered by Rees.

Trailing USC 17-10 with Crist under center, an Irish drive reached inside the Trojan 1-yard line. But instead of a game-tying touchdown, a center exchange botched by Crist resulted in a 80-yard fumble return for a touchdown by USC’s Jawanza Starling.

Or as Di Carlo put it while narrating the game-winning score, “devastation for the Irish, it’s 24-10.”

Devastation” or “desecration“?

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Video: Clean Burfict Now Calls For Personal Towel

Vontaze Burfict committed two personal fouls during the ASU-USC game last Saturday. One was for illegal hands to the face during the second quarter of Sparky’s 43-22 win over the Trojans.

The other? Watch for yourself.

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Photos: USC Football Team Wears UCLA Jerseys

During the USC football team’s practice on Thursday, the Trojan scout team wore jerseys designed to resemble arch rival UCLA.

USC scout team wearing UCLA jerseys during practice

(Photos Credit: USC)

The powder blues were used during a scrimmage in which the scout team impersonated the offense and defense of USC’s opponent this Saturday.

USC scout team wearing UCLA jerseys during practice

That opponent? Minnesota.

Though USC doesn’t play UCLA until November 26, USC coach Lane Kiffin used the blue & gold ensemble to motivate players to escape scout team duties - while lightening the mood at practice.

Rick Neuheisel UCLA Monopoly Photoshop

So what’s Skippy’s excuse?

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USC Assistant Quits After Being Tied To Will Lyles

Just two days before the Trojans’ opener against Minnesota, USC announced today that assistant football coach Willie Mack Garza had resigned his position.

Willie Mack Garza quits after being connected to Willie Lyles during Lyles interview with NCAA this week

USC’s official statement:

USC secondary coach Willie Mack Garza has resigned for personal reasons.

“I stepped down today from my coaching duties at USC,” said Garza, who was in his second year at USC. “I have some personal issues unrelated to USC that I need to address. I wish the Trojans the best and I am sorry I won’t be with them in what I know will be a very successful season.”

Garza’s resignation is a direct result of comments made to NCAA investigators earlier this week by former recruiting service operator Willie Lyles. In those comments, Lyles revealed to NCAA officials that he had previously had a working relationship with Garza.

Garza spent last season at USC and was hired by current Trojan Coach Lane Kiffin in a similar capacity at Tennessee, serving as an assistant coach for the Volunteers in 2009.

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Ducks Dare NCAA With Seastrunk, Opposite Day

Spring Practice got underway this week in Eugene.

Willie Lyles, Lache Seastrunk, Oregon Invoice To Lyles for $25,000

(What, Chip Can’t Afford To Cash Out?)

The good news for Oregon is that - as Ken Goe of the PORTLAND OREGONIAN reported Tuesday - after a disappointing freshman redshirt, Lache Seastrunk has been impressive this week during drills.

Or is that bad news? (That is, that Seastrunk is even on the field.)

According to Oregon Coach Chip Kelly it’s definitely the former.

On March 3, the same day Oregon confirmed it had paid $25,000 to the one-person “recruiting service” run by Seastrunk “mentor” Willie Lyles, Kelly told John Canzano of the Oregonian: We’ve done nothing wrong.”

So why then did Kelly and Oregon fork over $25,000 to Lyles, who went from not knowing Seastrunk before he became a college football prospect to reportedly living with Seastrunk?

The above invoice for the transaction confirmed Oregon was to receive “Game Film and Highlight Film” from 22 states - including Oregon.

But when Kelly was asked by Canzano what Oregon got for its 25 large, Kelly said, “names and phone numbers.”

The payment to Lyles, subsequent discrepancy over services rendered and Lyles’ “Complete Scouting Service” falling well short of NCAA “recruiting service” guidelines soon drew a visit from NCAA investigators to Eugene.

That visit though may now be an extended NCAA stay after a March 13 piece by Thayer Evans detailing longtime Oregon assistant coach Gary Campbell’s relationship with Lyles in Texas.

In an article titled “Is Lyles most powerful street agent?“, Evans reported that Lyles accompanied Ducks assistant Campbell to at least two Texas High Schools - Clear Springs High School and Dekaney High School - while Campbell was recruiting football players for the Ducks in 2010. Evans:

Campbell said he did visit high schools with Lyles, but doesn’t recall how often.

Campbell on Lyles:

“I just don’t understand what the big deal about this scouting service and paying Will is all about.

“I don’t think Will did anything wrong. I mean, I know he didn’t do anything wrong with us because he knew that we weren’t going to do anything outside of the rules.”

Apparently Campbell is unaware of the NCAA’s criteria for a booster, or “representative of the institution’s athletics interests” (NCAA bylaw 13.02.14):

an individual, independent agency, corporate entity (e.g., apparel or equipment manufacturer) or other organization who is known (or who should have been known) by a member of the institution’s executive or athletics administration to:

(c) Be assisting or to have been requested (by the athletics department staff) to assist in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes;

Again, keep in mind that before Seastrunk was known as a high school football prospect, Lyles had no prior relationship with him or his family.

If Campbell isn’t aware of the rules governing recruiting, it wouldn’t be the first time. The Oregonian reported last January:

The lone blemish on Campbell’s reputation was his 2003 interaction with junior-college running back J.J. Arrington, who had committed to California but was wavering back toward Oregon. In Campbell’s presence, Arrington signed with the Ducks after the midnight deadline, forging his father’s signature. The NCAA gave Oregon two years’ probation.

“It was a mistake,” Campbell said.

But Oregon stood by him, as he had the Ducks for so long. He so appreciates his coworkers’ longevity that if the Ducks’ coaching staff ever fractures or moves to another program, Campbell said, he might just retire.

The verification of the forgery caused Arrington to subsequently sign with Cal and landed Oregon in hot water with the NCAA.

Speaking of (in this case, alleged) undue influence over recruits, Oregon starting quarterback Darron Thomas said of Lyles in another piece:

“He brings a lot of Texas to this team — a guy that Coach Chip Kelly and them out there now recruiting in Texas a lot. Like I said, he’s a big recruiting guy just leading guys.”

Oregon star LaMichael James on Lyles in the same story:

He’s very influential to me and I know to Lache and just different players.”

For all we know Lyles is a good egg who had no design on personal gain when he struck up a relationship with Seastrunk and his mother. The fact that those relationships happened only after Seastrunk became a major college football prospect, and that Lyles has subsequently moved out of the Seastrunk home and cut off his relationship with Seastrunk’s mother after her son signed with Oregon may be complete coincidence.

Like the $25,000 from Oregon to Lyles right after Seastrunk signed with the school was only for “Game Film and Highlight Film.” (Or was it “names and phone numbers“?)

But as Lyles visited multiple Texas high schools with Campbell, by NCAA rules he’s defined as a booster who is forbidden any contact with Oregon recruits.

NCAA bylaw 13.1.2 (Page 96) on what constitutes a “Permissible Recruiter”:

All in-person correspondence on and off campus recruiting contacts with prospective student-athlete or the prospective student-athlete’s relatives or legal guardians shall be made only by authorized institutional staff members. Such contact, as well as correspondence and telephone calls, by representatives of an institution’s athletics interests is prohibited.

There are some exceptions to that rule, but Lyles doesn’t fulfill any of them.

Lyles and Oregon have already violated the booster-contact rule thanks to Lyles’ relationship with both Seastrunk and assistant coach Campbell. Campbell confirmed the violation himself to with his comments to Thayer Evans.

That violation would not, unto itself, render Seastrunk ineligible. But we’re now to the point with Oregon where the circumstantial evidence is impossible to ignore: Read more…

Ducks Got Trojan Defection From Carroll Ejection?

On Jan. 27, 2010, Lache Seastrunk, the high profile Oregon running back who Will Lyles reportedly “mentored” during Seastrunk’s recruitment, verbally committed to the Ducks. Seastrunk made it official a week later, signing with the school to play football.

Pete Carroll and Will Lyles at USC

Six weeks later Lyles was sent a check for $25,000 by the state of Oregon after invoicing the Univ. of Oregon for providing the Ducks football program with recruiting videos from 22 states. Oregon football coach Chip Kelly has yet to confirm if he or a member of his staff ever received the videos.

Those facts have the NCAA wondering if Oregon paid Lyles for services that were never rendered. If that indeed was the case, then the NCAA might also examine the possibility that Lyles, who is well-known in college coaching circles as a street agent who pushes recruits to certain schools, had undue influence over Seastrunk during his recruitment.

Will Lyles and Lache Seastrunk

Though if you believe multiple reports from main media sources and comments from Seastrunk himself, the former Texas high school star may have actually committed to Oregon Pac-10 rival USC instead had then-coach Pete Carroll not left for the Seattle Seahawks less than a month before signing day.

On Feb. 1, 2010, John Hunt of the PORTLAND OREGONIAN wrote:

The comparison most often made is to former USC running back Reggie Bush, and Seastrunk was set to follow in Bush’s footsteps until coach Pete Carroll left for the Seattle Seahawks.

On Jan. 27, 2010, Kristian Dyer of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED wrote:

Considered one of the nation’s top running back recruits, Seastrunk was originally considered a USC lock. But the departure of former Trojans head coach Pete Carroll led Seastrunk to re-consider his options. The source said Seastrunk settled on Oregon in early January, around the time he played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

From the June 2009 video below from Kevin Carden of Scout’s, it isn’t hard to understand why main media reporters and recruiting experts thought Seastrunk a lock for USC.

During the annual “Rising Stars Camp” for high school football prospects held at USC, an off-camera Pete Carroll can be heard encouraging the players during drills. Also in the same proximity to Carroll and mostly off-camera is the same Will Lyles who “mentored” Lache Seastrunk.

How do we know that? Read more…

Matt Barkley’s Twitter: Calm Amid Controversy

USC Quarterback Matt Barkley is among the most thoughtful and fun follows on Twitter. Barkley represents the best of what Twitter has to offer in that he gives fans an accurate view of his daily life while also spicing in measured opinions about current events and a wide array of relevant subjects.

Matt Barkley on Twitter

We were provided a different kind of window into Barkley’s personality this week when he weighed in on one of the most controversial subjects facing Americans today: gay marriage.

Wednesday Barkley retweeted a Yahoo News headline that read:

Matt Barkley Tweets

“Gov’t says it won’t defend constitutionality of law that bans recognition of same-sex marriage”

Barkley added “Smh..” which is an acronym for “shake my head.

In other words, Barkley isn’t keen on the U.S. government officially recognizing same-sex marriage as a lawful and legal union.

After Barkley sent out his retweet he was immediately met with barrage of angry Tweets from a single Twitter user. The first in a series of Tweets directed at Barkley: Read more…