An irreverent look at all things said, considered, tweeted, posted, photographed, played and otherwise gone amuck in college sports
When USC Coach Clay Helton answered, "We're aware of the situation," on Tuesday's Pac 12 coaches' weekly conference call, he was referring to:
A) The fact O.J. Simpson has been released on parole and is likely going to ask for a sideline pass for Nov. 18 game against UCLA at the Coliseum. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1967 "Game of the Century" in which Simpson's 64-yard touchdown run knocked top-ranked UCLA from the ranks of unbeaten.
B) This week's NCAA national stats release in which former starter Max Browne, who transferred to Pitt after losing his starting job last year, currently has a higher passing efficiency rating than Sam Darnold.
C) His Trojans dropping nine spots in the polls after a three-point loss and being light years, competitively, from the top two teams in the country: Alabama and Clemson.
D) The Pullman police department investigating an incident last Friday night in which one of his players decked a Washington State fan on the field after the Cougars' 30-27 victory.
E) The possibility Helton could be called as a character witness for Tony Bland, the former USC basketball assistant arrested last week in an FBI corruption probe, who has hired the lawyer who defended John Gotti Jr. and currently represents drug kingpin "El Chapo."
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D) As if losing at Washington State, for the first time since 2002, wasn't bad enough for USC... Post-game video revealed that a USC player, No. 93, listed as Liam Jimmons in the USC's 2017 media guide, bowled over a Cougars' fan who had stormed the field after the win. The Pullman Police department is investigating the matter. "We're aware of the situation," Helton said on Tuesday's Pac 12 call. "It was an electric game and a very exciting atmosphere, and the safety of both fans and players always needs to be taken into account.”
Video shows a player, presumed to be Jimmons, a reserve defensive lineman, knocking the fan off his feet as the Trojans left the field. Technically, in Sunday's film session, it graded out as the most fundamentally-sound collision any Trojan made all night on a Cougar. Jimmons executed a perfect "pancake" block on the fan.
If Jimmons is cleared of wrongdoing in the next few days, there's a possibility he will switch to the injury-riddled offense and start at left tackle on Saturday against Oregon State.
News item: The Pac 12 fined Washington State $25,000 after its fans stormed the field in the aftermath of the Cougars' upset win over USC in Pullman.
Reaction: The fine in the SEC for storming the field is $50,000.
Saved by the Ball
News item: LaVar Ball announces he is pulling son LeMelo, age 16, out of high school.
Reaction: Can I get a "Hallelujah?" LaVar Ball has spent years big-footing people out of his way. Frankly, he's been GREAT at it. The good news here is that administrators at Chino Hills High School, apparently, finally had the stones to stand up to to Citizen Ball, who had taken a town hostage by leveraging his talented sons in exchange for helping to put a suburban town "on the map."
I happen to be a taxpayer in that town and tried to warn everyone, months ago, that we were getting worked by a master manipulator. It was terrific when, two years ago, Chino Hills won the "national championship" with the three Ball Brothers leading the charge. But at what price? Despite going 65-3, Chino Hills High is now working on its third coach in three years. That's just not right. LeVar declared in USA Today that he "owned" Chino Hills and no one challenged him on it.
Well, it looks like someone finally did.
Monday, the snit hit the fan when LaVar announced that he was pulling LeMelo out of Chino Hills high. LaVar will "home school" the talented junior. He will not play high school basketball this year. LaVar, in my opinion, is not evil, but that doesn't mean his act hasn't grown old.
LaVar, reportedly, wasn't happy with the third Chino Hills High coach coaching one, or all, of his boys. The L.A. Times reported that LaVar may have wanted the new coach, Dennis Latimore, to add a few AAU players to bolsters the roster. Shockingly, to some of us who know how the Chino Hills school district operates, this was not acceptable at a public school funded with taxpayer dollars.
In truth, this is the way it all had to play out. LaVar had basically rendered LeMelo ineligible by giving his youngest protege his own sneaker brand.
This was\is all heading for a showdown with the NCAA, maybe one that needs to be fought. Yet, it seems highly unlikely the NCAA was ever going to clear LeMelo to play at UCLA in two years. And my prediction here is that LeMelo will not play at UCLA. Also remember: He is a young high school junior, having moved up from eighth grade to play with his two older brothers. LeMelo only recently turned 16 and is not eligible for the NBA, under current rules, until he turns 19.
That gives us three years of relative peace and three years for LaVar to mold LeMelo into something special. Or something else. Stay tuned.
You can argue whether the Ball Family has had a cumulative positive, or negative, impact on the world or on Chino Hills. It might take years until we know. But the bottom line is this: no parent or player, no matter how loud or talented, should compromise the administration, or school district, of a publicly-held institution.
That's what private school is for.
News item: Washington Coach Chris Petersen sounds off against late-night Pac 12 kick offs.
"I just want to say something to our fans. We apologize for these late games. I'd also like to reiterate it has nothing to do with us or the administration. We want to play at 1 p.m. It hurts us tremendously in terms of national exposure...I don't think they even care about my voice, or probably any of the coaches' voices."
Reaction: Whoa, Nellie. Coach Pete is right about the late kicks hurting Washington, and the Pac 12. But his comments, and those of other Pac 12 coaches, are a bit disingenuous. Little back story: In 2011, when Chris Petersen was coaching at Boise State, the Pac 12 signed a $3 billion, 12-year deal with ESPN\FOX. Pac 12 coaches universally hailed the deal and sang the praises of commissioner Larry Scott. That deal was going to bring millions of dollars, per year, per school, to the conference and also make its coaches very rich.
Part of that deal, of course, was that ESPN and FOX were going to get more flexibility in selecting Pac 12 schools at certain time slots. Those time slots included a lot of late night, and Friday night, games.
I don't remember one Pac 12 coach complaining then. Last April, after last year's playoff run, the University of Washington renegotiated Petersen's contract to make him the richest coach in the Pac 12. Coach Pete is due to make an average of $4.875 million per year through 2023.
As much as anything else, that's why Washington is kicking off at 7:45 p.m. this week.
If Pac 12 coaches are going to apologize to their fans for late kick offs, those fans deserve a full accounting of why it is happening. The Pac 12 deal with ESPN\FOX expires in 2023-24. Maybe, in the next go around, Pac coaches will agree to less money in exchange for more leverage for time slots.
News item: Mike Price, 71, is returning to coach at the University of Texas El Paso.
Reaction: Why don't we just double down and get Dick Tomey, 79, back at Hawaii? Price's return shows you just how little prepared UTEP was for Sean Kugler stepping down hours after last week's loss at Army. AD Bob Stull had to pull the AARP card to get through this difficult transition.
Price, who led Washington State to two Rose Bowl appearances, retired at UTEP after going 3-9 in 2012. Just to be clear on this: "I'm not interviewing for the future job," Price said, "and I'm not going to be the future head coach."
Price's return likely stirred a few heeby-jeebies down in Tuscaloosa and it just goes to show how fragile winning and losing can be. Alabama hired Price, in 2002, to replace the hated Dennis Franchione. As we all know, though, Price never made it to his first game after a messy encounter in an off-season strip club.
But could you imagine what might have happened had Price not been fired? The scenario that led Mike Price, to Mike Shula, to Nick Saban, may have never happened. Alabama fans don't even like me talking about this.
Best football game note of the week: Central Florida