Monday, September 3, 2012
USC and Oregon face off-field allegations amid first-week routs
The two schools had no problems on the field, but are dealing with new developments in scandals involving their programs.
Seattle Times colleges reporter
SEATTLE — Throughout the run-up to the college football season, USC and Oregon have been mentioned almost in lockstep as the odds-on likely matchup in the Pac-12 title game.
Well, they’re still joined at the hip, but not in ways they’d necessarily welcome.
Saturday, both rocked and rolled on the field. USC only had trouble with extra points in thrashing Hawaii, 49-10, and Oregon burst to a 50-3 second-quarter lead in a 57-34 beat-down of Arkansas State.
Off the field, they had dueling stories related to NCAA rules enforcement — which may mean nothing, other than that the exploits of both programs still have some shadows that need explaining.
The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday that an investigation into the L.A. County assessor’s office produced emails from Scott Schenter, a former county appraiser, that suggested he provided a Chevrolet Monte Carlo to former USC running back Joe McKnight and $3,700 to ex-basketball player Davon Jefferson.
USC says it has looked into allegations around Schenter and McKnight before and is reporting the latest claims to the NCAA. (Adding a bizarre angle is that Schenter describes himself as a Washington fan.)
Meanwhile, Oregon released more documents Friday that seemed to confirm what was believed earlier — that the Ducks, who are under investigation for possible violations involving dealings with a recruiting service, are essentially looking to plea-bargain with the NCAA to avoid a hearing with the committee on infractions.
What We Learned
Jeff Tedford is first to the hot seat: Cal was a double-digit favorite against Nevada, but with its 31-24 loss, its total of points yielded to the Wolf Pack increased to 83 in 2010 and 2012 meetings.
It could be a while before the Bears, who travel to Ohio State and USC Sept. 15 and 22, respectively, see the a plus-.500 record. And it’s fitting that a quarterback problem — so common to Tedford’s recent woes at Cal — played a part. Zach Maynard sat out the Bears’ first three series in a disciplinary measure after he missed a summer tutoring session.
Jeff Tuel may be on notice: In Mike Leach’s return to coaching for Washington State at Brigham Young, Tuel was seemingly indecisive and unable to put any velocity behind his throws.
Leach said he didn’t consider going to Connor Halliday, and I think that was wise — not adding a quarterback controversy to what was already a disjointed effort in Provo, Utah. His players might have interpreted that as a panic move.
Tuel clearly deserves at least a second chance, and he’ll get it against Eastern Washington. But he has only nine months of history with the new staff, and any kind of repeat of the BYU game might be cause to usher in Halliday.
Marcus Mariota seems to have the goods: “The kid looked pretty good, didn’t he?” Oregon offensive lineman Carson York asked a reporter from the Eugene Register-Guard.
Mariota, who was named the starter at quarterback only a week earlier, played seven possessions against Arkansas State, and the Ducks scored touchdowns on each. Fourteen Ducks caught passes and 15 offensive linemen played.
Washington’s defense is better: Well, it almost had to be. But the Huskies flew to the ball against San Diego State and held a respectable team to 327 yards. They’ll live every day with the 128 passing yards allowed, but 199 on the ground has to be a concern.
UCLA may finally have an offense: Rice is no defensive stonewall, but it’s encouraging to the Bruins to pile up 49 points and 646 yards, with a redshirt-freshman quarterback (Brett Hundley) and three unproven offensive linemen. That’s more points than UCLA scored in any of Rick Neuheisel’s 51 games there.
Arizona is again looking for a kicker: Or at least an improved effort from the current one, John Bonano, who missed two chip-shot field goals in the 24-17 overtime win against Toledo. This may be new to Rich Rodriguez, the first-year ’Zona coach, but it’s all too familiar to Wildcat fans, who remember how two late blocks of Arizona’s Alex Zendejas on extra points against Arizona State cost the Wildcats a victory in 2010.