Reports: USC Handed 2-Year Postseason Ban

Southern California's Reggie Bush (5) dives into the end zone ahead of University of Texas' Michael Huff (7) for a fourth-quarter score in the Rose Bowl, the national championship college football game, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2006, in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
This story was written by senior writer Dennis Dodd
It is the end of USC football as we know it.

Oh, the Trojans will still be playing, just not very well for a while. According to two reports, USC will receive one of the most severe penalties of a major program in recent memory stemming from the Reggie Bush investigation.

The Trojans will receive a two-year postseason ban, the loss of at least 20 scholarships and a possible vacation of victories according to the reports. In play, if the reports are true, are USC's 2004 national championship and Reggie Bush's 2005 Heisman.

A former member of Pete Carroll's staff called the NCAA penalties, "a travesty," asserting that no one at the university knew of Bush's wrongdoing. The former tailback and his parents are alleged to have taken thousands of dollars and improper benefits from would-be agents. With the two-year ban, the NCAA likely has determined that Bush competed while ineligible because he took those benefits.

Running backs coach Todd McNair was the only USC coach who was tied to both Bush and the would-be agents. If the reports are accurate, it is likely the NCAA determined USC coaches and/or officials either knew or should have known of Bush's wrongdoing.

The penalties could be announced officially by the NCAA on Thursday. Veteran enforcement official Rich Johanningmeier worked the bulk of the case, according to a source. One former coach who was part of a Johanningmeier investigation once called him "a bulldog" in NCAA cases. Johanningmeier has been involved in several high-profile cases.

One of the longest investigations in NCAA history has apparently ended after more than four years. USC already had self-penalized its basketball program, but was hoping to avoid major sanctions against football. Carroll left in January for the Seattle Seahawks a season after leading USC to seven consecutive BCS bowls.

Current coach Lane Kiffin was led to believe the sanctions wouldn't be severe.

The BCS is already on record as saying that USC could be stripped of its 2004 national championship. USA Today reported last month that a little-known rule allowed the BCS presidents to vacate a title if an ineligible player participated in the championship game. The penalty would be applied only if all appeals by a school had been exhausted, said Bill Hancock, BCS executive director.

The call would be made by the BCS Presidential Oversight Committee. Nebraska's CEO Harvey Perlman is currently the chairman. No I-A program has ever been stripped of a national championship.

A Heisman official said recently that Bush could lose the trophy from 2005 if he is found guilty by the NCAA.

USC's postseason ban is one of the most severe in recent memory in Division I-A football. Auburn in 1993 and Ole Miss in 1994 were given two-year bans by the NCAA.

Based on similar cases, USC could be in for a long dry period. Oklahoma had similar scholarship reductions in 1988. It went through three coaches before getting lucky with Bob Stoops. Twelve years after the penalties, OU won the 2000 national championship.

Oklahoma State went through seven consecutive losing seasons after losing multiple scholarships in 1989.

Top recruits could shy away from USC knowing it can't play in bowls after the 2010 and 2011 seasons. No. 1 national Seantrel Henderson delayed signing with USC in February because of the investigation. After apparently receiving assurances, Henderson eventually signed.

Henderson's father Sean could not be reached Wednesday night to determine if his son would ask out of his scholarship.