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Category: NCAA

USC football: Zach Banner announces he will play for Trojans

Usc.trojans.logoZach Banner, a 6-foot-8, 305-pound offensive tackle from Washington, announced Monday that he would attend college at USC.

Banner, a senior at Lakes High School in Lakewood, Wash., chose USC over Oklahoma and Washington. He is expected to sign with the Trojans on Wednesday, the first day that high school players can sign national letters of intent.

Because of NCAA sanctions, USC can bring in only 15 players -- 10 below the maximum. That restriction will be in place for each of the next three years. The Trojans also can have only 75 scholarship players on the roster during those years.

The Trojans also have received verbal commitments from offensive linemen Max Tuerk of Santa Margarita High and Jordan Simmons of Encino Crespi, receiver Darreus Rogers (Carson), linebacker Jabari Ruffin (Downey), tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick (Rocklin Whitney), defensive lineman Pio Vatuvei (Patterson), fullback Jahleel Pinner (Mission Viejo) and athlete Kevon Seymour (Pasadena Muir).

USC also had players enroll in January, but they can count as part of the class of 2011. Linebacker Scott Starr and offensive lineman Chad Wheeler graduated early from Norco and Santa Monica highs, respectively. Safety Gerald Bowman transferred from Los Angeles Pierce College, defensive lineman Morgan Breslin from Diablo Valley College. Defensive lineman Devante Wilson from Coronasigned in 2011 but was injured and did not attend USC last year.

The Trojans also added safety Josh Shaw, a transfer from Florida who will be eligible in 2013.

More later at

--Gary Klein

USC football: Lane Kiffin tied for 'top flipper' in recruiting



USC Coach Lane Kiffin and Ohio State Coach Urban Meyer are the top "flippers" in college football.

That, at least, is one of the conclusions that's Andy Staples reached in this report tracking football recruits who broke verbal commitments and signed with another school.

Staples studied the top 100 players in the classes of 2007 through 2011.

Kiffin's track record is mostly from his 14-month tenure at Tennessee.

"It's fitting that Kiffin and Florida-turned-Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, who locked horns so memorably on the recruiting trail, finished tied for the title of Top Flipper," Staples wrote. "Each flipped five top-100 players during the five-year period."

Staples also noted: "Thanks to swipes by Meyer and Kiffin's successors, Florida and Tennessee tied for the most top-100 players flipped with six each. Florida and USC, meanwhile, tied for the most top-100 players lost with six each."

With signing day approaching on Feb. 1, stay tuned for more intrigue.

-- Gary Klein

Photo: Lane Kiffin, center, coaching USC against Stanford in October. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

NCAA hands down sanctions against Ohio State


The NCAA's Committee on Infractions on Tuesday handed down sanctions against Ohio State's football program, penalizing the Buckeyes with a one-year bowl ban and the loss of nine scholarships over the next three years.

Former Coach Jim Tressel, who resigned before last season, was found to have engaged in unethical conduct and was issued a five-year, show-cause order.

The NCAA found that eight players received more than $14,000 in cash payments or preferential treatment from the owner of a Columbus, Ohio, tattoo parlor. In addition to free or discounted tattoos and cash for memorabilia, one player also received a loan and a discount on a car, the committee said.

The NCAA also found that Tressel concealed the violations when he was notified of the situation.

The NCAA's action comes 18 months after USC was cited for lack of institutional control. The football program was hammered with a two-year bowl ban and the loss of 30 scholarships over three years, largely for the actions of former tailback Reggie Bush.

USC appealed the sanctions but the penalties were upheld by the NCAA.

More later at


Lane Kiffin wishes Nick Perry well

Kiffin backs Matt Kalil's decision to turn pro

Matt Kalil selected to Walter Camp All-America team

-- Gary Klein

Photo: Then-Ohio State coach Jim Tressel encourages his team against Oregon in the 2010 Rose Bowl game. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times.

USC football: Pat Haden says Matt Barkley is in 'no hurry'

After meeting with Matt Barkley and his parents, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden said the quarterback was "a savvy kid" and that he expected Barkley would make an informed decision regarding his future.

Haden and Coach Lane Kiffin met with Barkley and his parents on Monday, just after the announcement of the Heisman Trophy finalists. Barkley was not among the five players invited to New York for Saturday's Heisman ceremony.

Barkley is weighing whether to turn pro or to return to USC for a final season.

"He's in no hurry," Haden said. "I met with him and I have no idea what decision he’s going to make."

Haden said Barkley would consider "extremely good advice" from a variety of sources before making a decision. Players have until mid-January to declare for the draft.

"I just said, 'You know the advantages of going, we all recognize those. If you come back, here are the advantages,'" Haden said. "He’s aware of those too.

"Hes a savvy kid. He knows both sides.... So he’s got finals coming up, he's going to get those behind him and then I think he’s going to be reflective. He's not going to rush into it and I think he’s going to make a very thoughtful decision."

--Gary Klein


USC football: Matt Barkley selected as team MVP


Quarterback Matt Barkley was announced as USC's most valuable player at the Trojans' football awards banquet Monday night.

Barkley passed for 39 touchdowns, with seven interceptions, and helped lead the Trojans to a 10-2 record. He established school and conference records for touchdowns in a season.

Barkley had hoped to be among the finalists for the Heisman Trophy, but he was not among the five players announced Monday. They were: Wisconsin running back Montee Ball, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu and Alabama running back Trent Richardson.

Here is a list of USC team award winners:

Most Valuable Player: quarterback Matt Barkley
Most Inspirational Player: defensive tackle Christian Tupou
Leadership Award: fullback Rhett Ellison
Linemen of the Year: offensive tackle Matt Kalil, defensive end Nick Perry
Perimeter Players of the Year: wide receiver Robert Woods, safety T.J. McDonald
Special Teams Player of the Year: fullback Ross Cumming
Service Team Players of the Year: offensive guard Cyrus Hobbi, linebacker Anthony Sarao
Player of the Game versus Notre Dame: cornerback Nickell Robey
Player of the Game versus UCLA: wide receiver Marqise Lee
Jack Oakie “Rise and Shine” Award (year’s longest run): tailback Curtis McNeal (79 yards vs. Washington)
Howard Jones/Football Alumni Club Academic Award (overall academic achievement): linebacker Augusto Alonso
Bob Chandler Award (underclassman with outstanding athletic ability, academic achievement and character): linebacker Hayes Pullard
John McKay Award (underclassman with the most competitive spirit): Robey
Joe Collins Walk-on Award: punter Kyle Negrete
Courage Award: tailback Curtis McNeal
Co-Lifters Award: Ellison, safety Jawanza Starling

--Gary Klein

Photo: Quarterback Matt Barkley celebrates USC's 50-0 victory over UCLA at the Coliseum. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

USC football: Matt Barkley not among Heisman Trophy finalists

FabforumUSC quarterback Matt Barkley was not among the finalists announced Monday for the Heisman Trophy.

Wisconsin running back Monte Ball, Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, Louisiana State defensive back Tyrann Mathieu and Alabama running back Trent Richardson are finalists for an award that will be presented Dec. 10 in New York.

Barkley passed for 39 touchdowns, with seven interceptions, and led the Trojans to a 10-2 record.

USC is not eligible to participate in a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions related to former Heisman winner Reggie Bush. The sanctions made USC ineligible for the Pac-12 Conference title game, which would have given Barkley a final opportunity to sway Heisman voters last Friday.

Barkley, a junior, was making a push for Heisman consideration after dynamic performances against Oregon and UCLA.

Barkley passed for four touchdowns in the Trojans' 38-35 upset of Oregon at Eugene, Ore.

He passed for six touchdowns in a 50-0 rout of UCLA, tying his own school record for touchdown passes in a game and breaking the Pac-12 record of 38 touchdown passes in a season set by Heisman winner Matt Leinart in 2003.

Barkley is weighing whether to make himself available for the NFL draft or return for a final college season.

More later at


Matt Barkley is a fan of Tim Tebow

USC's Matt Barkley starts testing NFL waters

Matt Barkley's potential replacement ready to step up for USC

--Gary Klein

Photo: Matt Barkley during the 50-0 win over UCLA. Credit: Associated Press.

USC football: Larry Scott looks forward to Trojans' emergence from sanctions


USC fans, players and administrators aren't the only people happy that USC will be eligible to play in a bowl game next season.

So is Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott.

"I’m very much looking forward to them having served their time and the ban being lifted," Scott said Friday before the Pac-12 Championship game at Autzen Stadium.

Scott said USC’s games this season against Oregon and Stanford were among the six highest-rated college football broadcasts on ESPN.

The Trojans finished 10-2 overall and 7-2 in conference play, but were prohibited from playing in the inaugural conference title game because of NCAA sanctions that forbid participation in any postseason game.

"Of course it’s disappointing when such a strong team as USC is not allowed to participate," Scott said.
USC, however, will be eligible in 2012.

 "There’s no denying USC is a hero brand to this conference, especially when it comes to football," Scott said. "You can tell by the ratings on TV. USC’s success is so important to this conference … like UCLA in basketball … it’s a bellwether, a brand built over many, many years."


A gut check for UCLA in the Pac-12 title game

Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley testing NFL waters

Matt Barkley's potential replacement ready to step up for USC

--Gary Klein, reporting from Eugene, Ore.

Photo: Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott holds a news conference on Friday before the football championship game in Eugene. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire

Congressman compares NCAA to Al Capone and the Mafia

Rush3The NCAA certainly has its share of critics -- and it looks like it can add at least one more congressman to its list of detractors.

Rep. Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat, described the NCAA as "one of the most vicious, most ruthless organizations ever created by mankind" during a congressional forum on college sports Tuesday, before saying one could "compare the NCAA to Al Capone and to the Mafia."

Rush, whose district includes much of Chicago's South Side, made the comments at the forum after hearing from mothers who complained their sons were mistreated by schools after suffering injuries. The forum, which Rush said was necessary to examine the impact of "back-room deals, payoffs and scandals" in college sports, gave a grim assessment of how the NCAA and colleges handle medical hardship waivers.

The NCAA refuted Rush's claims.

“Congressman Rush obviously doesn't know the NCAA,” Bob Williams, a spokesman for the organization, said in an email to the Associated Press. “The NCAA and its member institutions provide over $2 billion per year in scholarships, financial assistance and academic support to student-athletes . . . second only to the federal government. Student-athlete success is our mission.”

Testimony at the hearing suggested the NCAA needs to do more to help students and their families shoulder healthcare-related costs stemming from injuries on the field, and to do a better job of making sure the immense revenue generated by college athletics actually makes it back to the students.

That said, calling the NCAA "one of the most vicious organizations ever created by mankind" is ignorant on Rush's part. There's no need for knee-jerk sound bites that do little to help college athletes.


Mark Cuban offered to buy Dodgers, but price was too high

This college football trend is upsetting to Las Vegas sports books

T.J. Simers: Shocking: Readers have a bone to pick about Lane Kiffin, et al.

-- Austin Knoblauch

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Rep. Bobby Rush takes part in a congressional roundtable on college sports in Washington on Tuesday. Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

NCAA student-athlete graduation rates at all-time high


The NCAA's graduation success rate has climbed to an all-time high, with more than eight of every 10 Division I student-athletes earning their degrees within six years, officials said Tuesday. 

The 82% graduation rate for student-athletes who began college in 2004 is three points higher than last year and eight points higher than when the NCAA began collecting such data a decade ago. 

"Academic reform is working," NCAA President Mark Emmert said. "Students are better prepared when they enter college, and they are staying on track to earn their degrees."

Officials were less pleased that graduation rates for football and men’s basketball players, while improving, remained below 70%.


USC suspends Dillon Baxter

Trojans to face well-balanced Stanford

Neuheisel says Hundley wasn't ready to play

-- David Wharton

Photo: NCAA President Mark Emmert. Credit: Lisa Helfert / PR Newswire 

Lane Kiffin denies knowing of alleged payment by ex-USC assistant

USC Coach Lane Kiffin said Tuesday he had no knowledge of a former assistant allegedly reimbursing a talent scout for airfare to pay for a prospect’s unofficial visit to Tennessee in 2009.

Yahoo! Sports reported Monday that former USC assistant Willie Mack Garza allegedly wired $1,500 to Texas-based Will Lyles for an unofficial visit Lache Seastrunk and his mother made to Knoxville, Tenn.

Garza resigned at USC a few days before the season opener because of "some personal issues unrelated to USC that I need to address, " Garza said in a statement.

“All I can say on that is that the alleged incident, I had no knowledge of, or knowledge of a relationship at all,” Kiffin said after practice. “I have always been committed, wherever we’ve been, to doing things the right way and cooperating with the NCAA so that’s all I’ve got on it.”

Kiffin was the subject of an NCAA investigation that delved into the Tennessee athletic program. Last summer, the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions ruled that although secondary violations had occurred in the football program, Kiffin would not be punished.

USC recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron, who held the same title at Tennessee, also said he had no knowledge of Garza's alleged payment.

Asked if it was common practice for assistant coaches to operate on their own without knowledge of the head coach or recruiting coordinator, Kiffin said, “I don’t know. I don’t know what people do.”

Asked if he would be surprised if the NCAA revisited his time at Tennessee, Kiffin said, “That’s not for me to judge.”

More later at


Photos: USC-Arizona State

USC laments missed opportunities in loss to Arizona State

-- Gary Klein

Photo: Lane Kiffin. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

USC football: Former assistant committed apparent violation at Tennessee, report says


USC Coach Lane Kiffin escaped penalties last summer after the NCAA found that secondary recruiting violations were committed by his staff during his 14-month tenure at Tennessee.

But Kiffin's controversial time in Knoxville continues to trail him at USC.

On Monday night, Yahoo! Sports reported that former USC assistant Willie Mack Garza allegedly wired $1,500 to a former talent scout to reimburse him for airfare for a prospect’s unofficial recruiting trip to Tennessee when Garza was an assistant on Kiffin’s staff.

Garza resigned his position at USC in September, a few days before the Trojans' season opener against Minnesota. In a statement released through the school, he said he was leaving because of “some personal issues unrelated to USC that I need to address.”

The Yahoo! Sports report said that Garza reimbursed Will Lyles for airfare that was part of a trip taken by Lache Seastrunk, a running back from Texas, and the player’s mother. The report said that Seastrunk traveled to Tennessee’s Knoxville campus for the unofficial visit in 2009. He eventually signed with Oregon but has since transferred to Baylor.

The NCAA is investigating Lyles’ ties to Oregon and Louisiana State.

NCAA rules allow schools to pay airfare for official visits during a prospect's senior year in high school. However, the report said Seastrunk's trip was taken before his senior year began, making it an apparent violation.

The report said that Lyles spoke with the NCAA on Aug. 30 in Los Angeles. Garza resigned two days later.

USC officials have declined to comment about Garza's departure. On Monday night, a USC athletic department spokesman declined to comment about the Yahoo! Sports report.

USC did not practice on Monday. The Trojans resume workouts Tuesday.


USC laments missed opportunities against Arizona State

Trojans leave Arizona State flame broiled after 43-22 loss

USC linebackers are building a solid reputation

--Gary Klein

Photo: Willie Mack Garza watches USC players warm up before a game against California last season at the Coliseum. Credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times


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