Notes and observations about USC as basketball finds way to overshadow football …
LOS ANGELES — At what point will USC basketball coach Andy Enfield make a statement about the scandal engulfing his program? His assistant coach, Tony Bland, is on administrative leave and two players could be ineligible after prosecutors alleged their families took money from a former sports agent.
Enfield often comes across as a smiling innocent but I’ve spoken to several college coaches who find it inconceivable a head coach would be unaware of what his assistant is doing, especially when he is having lunch with a former agent near the Galen Center.
It would seem logical for the coach to address the controversy in some manner.
The USC basketball program is effectively being held hostage with an internal investigation now joining the FBI’s extensive case against the program. Bland could potentially turn in others in an attempt to strike a deal with prosecutors. One can only guess how much damage Bland could do the program if he talks.
>> This is also the first test for Athletic Director Lynn Swann. Considering Swann has already expressed displeasure around USC over the football team’s play despite its 4-0 start, it’s not hard to imagine him being upset with Enfield for far more serious problems.
Swann spoke to a class at USC on Wednesday night.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire and I will act when I smell smoke,” Swann said, according to the Daily Trojan. “I’m not interested in waiting until there’s a fire. Had we had any indication that something was wrong in any of our departments, we would have taken action sooner.”
>> USC basketball has not always been accused of taking bribes.
In 1951, USC forward Ken Flower was offered $1,500 to fix a game by a stranger in a Los Angeles hotel where the Trojans stayed before playing UCLA. Flower immediately told USC assistant coach Al Conti and eventually the police were contacted. A sting was set up and ex-con Albert R. Scroggins was arrested at the hotel. Flower ended up playing that night.
USC basketball coach Forrest Twogood’s brother-in-law, Torrance W. Stockman, who contacted the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office for Twogood, had a heart attack after the game.
>> Back to football. USC tight ends coach John Baxter said he was “shocked” by Cary Angeline’s decision to transfer.
“I still have not talked to him,” Baxter said.
Now that is the shocking part. When you have a dynamic tight end, you do everything you can to keep him. And play him once in awhile.
>> A former USC lineman emailed after the Cal game: “It drives me nuts seeing our (linemen) smiling and laughing on the sidelines after how they’ve been playing,”
>> Colin Cowherd strikes again. The talk-show host predicted USC will lose at Washington State and tried to blame it on the basketball scandal. “This NCAA basketball probe … a little bit of distraction at USC,” Cowherd said.
This is clearly someone who has zero familiarity with a major athletic program. USC football players are not worried about the basketball program. They are thinking about Washington State.
Think back to the Pete Carroll teams who played during the NCAA’s investigation into Reggie Bush. They weren’t focused on that. They were focused on winning. And playing in the NFL. Athletes exist in their own bubble. Apparently so do ridiculous radio hosts.
>> My game prediction: This game looks like a perfect upset special. Washington State is the first passing team USC’s defense has faced this season. The Trojans’ receiving corps is depleted. It’s the second road game in six days.
I’m tempted to select Washington State, until I look at their schedule (Montana State, Boise State, Oregon State, Nevada). And even if USC has injuries, aren’t its reserves still more highly rated by all the recruiting services than Washington State’s starters?
Unless the Trojans’ secondary falls apart (and it might), I think form holds. I’m taking USC, 45-37.
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