And then there were 65.
No, that’s not the number of teams in the old NCAA tournament basketball field — that number will be 68 this season, by the way. It’s the number of scholarship players available to play on the USC football team’s roster.
The number dropped from 67 to 65 on Friday when freshmen Demetrius Wright and Jesse Scroggins were declared ineligible by the NCAA. Wright, a cornerback, and Scroggins, a quarterback, both hadn’t passed NCAA clearinghouse when their 14-day grace periods expired. Wright and Scroggins practiced with the team for the past two weeks while their paperwork was under review, but were sent home on Friday by coach Lane Kiffin until they were deemed eligible to play.
Kiffin said he is still hopeful that the matter “will be resolved very quickly and we will be able to get them back,” in a media appearance after Friday’s practice. This leaves the Trojans 20 players short of the maximum number of scholarship players allowed on a roster, however. This is because of injuries, players leaving early for the NFL, players transferring because of the sanctions and ineligibility.
Kiffin said he is concerned that this number still might dwindle.
“We’re not talking about guys who are redshirting and aren’t even available to play,” Kiffin told ESPN.com. “We’re redshirting another 10 guys or so. There’s 57. All of a sudden, you get those three or four season-ending injuries, unfortunately, you’re at 53. Well, there’s your NFL roster: 53.”