Two amazing stories collided in the last couple of days. 1. The disintegration of the Big 12. 2. Southern Cal’s stiff probation.
Any other time, we would have filled up a page about the Trojans’ NCAA penalties, which include a two-year bowl ban and loss of 30 scholarships. The NCAA hasn’t handed out a punishment like that in years.
Can we please have an end to all the jabber from fans that the NCAA protects USC? This was a crushing penalty. Look at it this way. Any junior or senior who wants to transfer from USC now can do so without having to sit out a season. Any incoming freshman can appeal to have their letter of intent invalidated, and though it’s not automatic that it will be granted, it seems likely the NCAA would cooperate.
It’s a killer penalty, one that should knock USC down for a few years. Not out. The Trojans still will play good football. But no way can Southern Cal sustain the level of dominance it showed from 2002-08, when it ruled the Pac-10, which before that stretch contained the world’s greatest parity.
All of which means it’s a wondrous time for OU and Texas to join the Pac-10. Whether the Pac-16 begins in 2011 or 2012, USC figures to be a few years from returning to glory, whether or not Lane Kiffin is the man to do it.
Think if these teams had been aligned the last 10 years. An OU-USC conference title game in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Texas-USC in 2005. OU-USC in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
In those seven seasons, OU played in three BCS title games, USC played in two and Texas played in two. In the last seven seasons, USC, OU and Texas have accounted for half the BCS title-game spots.
Now, it appears any road to a BCS title game is a little smoother for the Sooners and Longhorns. The Pac-8 winner won’t be easy, should the Pac-16 stage a title game. But Oregon or Cal or whoever doesn’t figure to be the caliber of the Carson Palmer Trojans or the Matt Leinart Trojans.
It’s the best possible scenario for OU and Texas to join the Pac-10.