USC will receive a 2-year postseason ban and lose over 20 scholarships if early reports are true. This news is absolutely devastating for Trojan fans.
These are the types of sanctions that can take years to recover from. And when I say "years", it could take until the end of this decade for USC to be an elite program again. A 2-year postseason ban will cripple recruiting for 2011 and 2012, and the reduction in scholarships will further deplete the Trojan talent base. Furthermore, it will be extremely difficult for Lane Kiffin to recruit quality players again in 2013 and 2014, when the program will likely have fallen on hard times.
The best recent comparables for USC are the University of Miami and the University of Alabama. Miami received a 1-year postseason ban in 1996 and lost 31 scholarships over a 3-year period. As a result, Miami was a college football also-ran for about 4 years until Butch Davis finally brought them back to elite status. Alabama had a two-year bowl ban in 2002-03 and lost 21 scholarships over 3 years. Nick Saban eventually returned them to prominence recently. Lonnie White has an interesting article on FanHouse, noting the eerily similar comparisons between these sanctions and those levied against USC in 1982.
Now are these new sanctions fair? Until I read the report, I can't say. It always seemed that it would be difficult to prove USC had any knowledge of Reggie Bush's dealings with various marketing representatives. But perhaps that evidence came to light in the investigation. It would be fair to say that after Reggie Bush, OJ Mayo, and the recent Joe McKnight allegations that USC could be cited for a loss of institutional control. Still, a 2-year ban for loss of institutional control seems exceedingly harsh, so one would have to believe there's something else in the report.
Reportedly, USC can appeal these sanctions, but it remains to be seen how that process will unfold. Typically, these appeals are not successful. Regardless, I've never felt it right to punish kids who have nothing to do with the original indiscretion.
Aside from UCLA fans, the happiest college football fans today are in Knoxville, Tennessee. I could understand that Lane Kiffin would want to leave Tennessee for his "dream job" at USC, but he put the Volunteers in a horrible position after he took considerable risks with that program through bold comments in the press. Now Kiffin will have to clean up a horrible mess. I would feel somewhat sympathetic toward his plight, but he was a top assistant when Bush played at USC, so he might be partially responsible for these sanctions. These sanctions also cast a dark shadow over Pete Carroll's legacy.
In the meantime, I would be shocked if Mike Garrett remained athletic director at USC for more than a few weeks. The school's two premier athletic programs have been hit with major sanctions under his watch, so it's only appropriate for Garrett to resign. USC needs to hire an athletic director who can make the football and basketball programs successful without running amok of NCAA rules.
It's an unusual time for all of this to happen, especially since Pac-10 expansion into Texas is looking more likely each day. It will take a long time for USC to recover from these sanctions in a more competitive conference.