Scandals often start in the strangest ways. The disgrace of Michigan's basketball program began when a car flipped off the road during a recruiting trip for Mateen Cleaves in 1996. In the aftermath of that accident, it was discovered that recruiting trip included a stop at the home of infamous Wolverine booster Ed Martin. School officials then began to investigate his ties to the program and rest, as they say, is sanction-filled history.
Could USC's football program could be staring at a similar fate due to a housing situation?
According to Yahoo! Sports, since early 2005, Reggie Bush's family has been living in a $757,500 San Diego-area house bought and paid for by a wannabe sports marketer who allegedly was trying to steer Bush toward an agent he knew. Correction: Bush's family was living in that house until this weekend. When Yahoo! Sports approached Bush's mother about the situation, the family packed up and moved in less than 24 hours!
Twenty-four hours? Ever moved, folks? It took me longer to move out of my dorm room freshman year. So if a family high-tails it out of 3,000 foot home in less than a day, something is rotten in Denmark.
Also interesting is the fact that, until moving into the house in question, Bush's family was living in a nearby apartment. Sure Southern California's housing market is crazy, but most people don't go from renting an apartment to an almost $800,000 starter home. Apparently SC officials agree because controversy surrounding the arrangement has prompted USC to refer the matter to the Pac-10 conference for investigation.
Don't be surprised if it turns out to be as bad as it looks.
And if this is true, what does this say about Pete Carroll and the way he runs the program? I'm not talking about X's and O's. Pete Carroll is a great gameday coach. I'm talking about discipline and control. Players talk about what a great guy Carroll is and how he's a "player's coach" but could that be a problem? Like a parent who is too often a friend rather than a father, maybe the need to be "liked" by his players is instilling a permissive attitude in 18-21 year old college kids who are already treated like gods. That was part of Michigan basketball coach Steve Fisher's problem. Could the same atmosphere be brewing at SC?
I for one was appalled a few years ago when I heard Carroll allowed OJ Simpson to attend a practice before SC played Iowa in the Orange Bowl. I thought it sent a bad message. You think Woody Hayes would have allowed that? And I scratched my head when I saw Snoop Doggy Dog roaming the Colesium sidelines last year. Is this the sort of person Bear Bryant would have allowed on his sidelines and associating with his players?
Yes, this could get very ugly for the Trojans.
UPDATE: For a different perspective on this scandal, check out EDSBS. They feel the controversy won't amount to much.