Dear President Obama,
I know you’re a busy man. Leading our nation is no small task. With midterm elections, two wars and a struggling economy on your plate, you could be forgiven for not grabbing a copy of the Daily Trojan today.
But here’s guessing you’re the type of guy who picks up a newspaper and flips to the sports page first.
Your dedication to Chicago’s sports teams is admirable. Your skills on the basketball court are downright impressive for a man who spends most of his day in meetings and giving speeches. Your bracket picks for the NCAA basketball tournament each spring make national headlines.
So while you’re on campus, I thought I’d share a few of our sporting concerns with you.
First, about these sanctions: We understand that USC broke the rules. The idea, however, that USC during the mid 2000s was one rogue program operating outside of NCAA rules couldn’t be further from the truth.
Sports Illustrated’s revealing interview with college football agent Josh Luchs confirmed to many what they had already believed. USC’s violations aren’t the exception — they’re the rule.
Luchs told Sports Illustrated that he paid more than 30 college football players, many of them from UCLA, from 1990-1996. The list of schools implicated by Luchs features some of the nation’s top football programs: Tennessee, Ohio State, USC, Michigan State, Arizona, Washington State, Colorado, Illinois — even Portland State.
Since the NCAA handed down USC’s scholarship reductions and two-year bowl ban in June, investigations have been opened into potential violations at North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama and Georgia.
North Carolina’s alleged violations involve at least 13 players. To me at least, that appears to be more of a lack of institutional control than what USC was punished for, which involved only Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo.
Will the NCAA really punish all of these schools as harshly as they did USC?
It seems unlikely that every program whose players accepted money from agents in the last 20 years will be investigated and sanctioned. Even those violations that occurred within the last five years (the NCAA’s statute of limitations) are too numerous to be completely documented and punished.
Wouldn’t the NCAA’s time be better served formulating a solution to the problem of agents paying players than investigating every program in the country?
So, Mr. President, in the interest of fairness, I humbly submit a request.
In light of recent news about how many programs are affected by these types of violations, USC’s punishment seems a bit harsh.
Luckily, the Constitution of the United States allows for you to help restore justice.
Perhaps a presidential pardon is in order for USC football?
Secondly, let’s discuss the Bowl Championship Series. Although we’re not too concerned about strength of schedule formulas and Harris Poll votes this season (see the sanctions mentioned above), it’s been a problem for USC in the past.
A loss or two against inferior opponents kept the Trojans from playing for the national title in three straight seasons.
In 2006, it was Oregon State and UCLA. In 2007, Stanford and Oregon played spoiler to the Trojans’ national title dreams. Oregon State then pulled the upset again in 2008.
You said it yourself before Florida and Oklahoma played in the BCS National Championship Game in January of 2009: “If I’m Utah, or if I’m USC, or if I’m Texas, I may still have some quibbles. That’s why we need a playoff.”
The concerns that a playoff would diminish the excitement of the regular season are valid. Watching top-ranked Alabama and Ohio State lose in recent weeks made for top-notch drama.
The chance to see the country’s eight best teams square off in a three-week, single elimination tournament, however, would make for must-see TV.
The change would surely benefit a USC program that seems to perform the best when the stage is the biggest.
You might be thinking that these requests are pretty selfish of us. It’s true: With the sanctions lifted and a playoff system in place, the Trojans’ chances of winning another national title in the years ahead — and paying you an honorary visit in the White House — would be much improved.
Thanks for visiting our home. In a few years and with a little help from you, our football team could be making a return trip to yours.
“Sellin’ the Sizzle” runs every other Friday. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or e-mail Jonathan at email@example.com.