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Take the rings and trophies; USC will always have memories

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Don’t cry, Tommy and Tammy Trojan. This could have been way worse. Be happy the NCAA didn’t slap USC with the death penalty like SMU, forcing you to wait a couple of decades for June Jones to ride into town and revive the program.

The NCAA doesn’t dish out capital punishment anymore. Still, two years of no bowls and 30 forfeited scholarships does seem a bit harsh for a few limo rides and some loose change and trinkets from agents, doesn’t it?

You’ve got to vacate a few wins and a national championship, but unless mass lobotomies are part of the equation, you’ll always have your memories. You’ve still got Traveler, you’ve still got the song girls, so relax.

Do you get the feeling the NCAA came down hard for the same reason that fine USC alum O.J. Simpson was treated so harshly in his last courtroom encounter? It’s like, "We know you did a lot of other bad things. We just can’t prove them, so we’ll throw the book at you for this parking ticket." You know, the old Al Capone tax evasion thing.

Pete Carroll beat the posse out of town. Despite that sweater-over-the-shoulder look, he seems like a cool guy with whom to man the mahogany. I’d let him buy me beers as long as he paid cash as we go. No running tab for the guy who skipped out on his beloved Trojans right before it was time to pay up.

Just like John Calipari in basketball, the coaches in these situations get to pretend they knew nothing and travel on down the road.

What about Mike Garrett? Lack of institutional control basically means the athletic director is negligent. I’m writing this at 6 p.m. Thursday and wondering why he hasn’t been fired yet.

AT LEAST one current USC player and a former one are taking it in stride.

Offensive lineman Abe Markowitz, among four on the current roster from Hawaii, figures there’s no sense worrying.

"Well, at least we might finally get the holidays off," he joked. "Small kine, we’ll see where the appeal takes us."

John Kamana, a USC starter during the glory years of the early ’80s, was actually relieved by the verdict.

"Got off easy. I thought we’d get five years. We were on probation when I was there and it wasn’t a big deal. You can still win a national championship, the AP one."

UH fans should be drooling over this, since the Warriors play the Trojans three times in the next four years. There’s some talk USC wants out of the Sept. 2 date at Aloha Stadium. Maybe Hawaii AD Jim Donovan can make a favorable trade: Give up this year’s game against the non-depleted, angry Trojans for one in 2014 or 2015, when the loss of 10 scholarships for three years in a row will have its most impact. Oh, and don’t forget to pay Jimbo the inconvenience fee.

Another plus for UH: 30 fewer scholarships for an attractive program that likes to recruit the islands.

IN ADDITION to the toppling of the Trojan Empire, the realignment dominoes finally began to fall yesterday, too, with Colorado accepting the invitation from the Pac-whatever-number-it-is-now.

The principals should refrain from talk about how Colorado will add to the conference off the field, considering its long tradition of rap sheets and recruiting indiscretions – plus its forfeiture of scholies announced this week due to a poor Academic Progress Rating.

Too late.

"The University of Colorado is a perfect match – academically and athletically – with the Pac-10," said Colorado president Bruce D. Benson.

Actually, the Buffs have some catching up to do. At last count the Trojans are ahead, 30 lost scholarships to five.

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at, his "Quick Reads" blog at, and


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