USC hired Pat Haden to clean things up and keep the Trojans on the high road, which is exactly where he walked Tuesday after the Ohio State news. He reiterated that USC had disagreed with the NCAA rulings but had chances to appeal.
"We had our two shots," Haden said. "We were disappointed with the results, but we have gotten beyond that and are moving forward."
USC finished its second and last season of title and bowl bans as one of the best teams in the country. Only the AP poll officially ranked them, but a victory over Oregon, the 50-0 rout of UCLA
and an AP No. 5 spoke volumes. During the two appeal processes, the Trojans were able to stall the scholarship ban and stockpile for the future. But starting next season, and for two after that, they will be 10 scholarships shy each year.
Alumni sentiment has been for the Trojans to sue the NCAA and get the sanctions reversed. That would come at an estimated cost of $5 million and USC would, in the opinion of its legal experts, stand little more than a 20% chance of winning.
Ohio State just hired a new coach, a man named Urban Meyer
, with a history of great recruiting success leading to great teams. At Florida, Meyer won two national titles.
Ohio State said Tuesday that, unlike USC, it won't appeal. That means Meyer will immediately operate a few slots shy, but nothing like USC's shortfall.
Sankey was asked several times, in several ways, if the Ohio State ruling, set against the backdrop of USC, represents a "new day" for NCAA penalties. He answered in basic NCAA legal doublespeak.
No answer was needed. This is, indeed, a "new day" of NCAA get-tough policies and USC, as the hardest hit, holds a special spot.