There's been a lot of talk lately about USC's self-imposed sanctions that have been applied to its basketball team in response to the violations of NCAA rules committed two years about by OJ Mayo and Tim Floyd. Some people say USC didn't go far enough, a lot of people say Mike Garrett is sacrificing the basketball team to save the football team.
To me, the whole system seems quite irrational. The NCAA makes it very clear what is and isn't allowed, but as far as I know, there are no official penalties for any of the violations. So when something happens, the school imposes a penalty on itself, hoping the NCAA will think it's harsh enough. If the NCAA accepts it, then maybe we could have gotten away with less, and we punished ourselves unnecessarily. If they impose even harsher sanctions than the ones we came up with, then we look like we're not taking the infractions seriously, simply because we couldn't read the NCAA's mind.
Imagine if the coaches determined their own penalties for fouls during football games. Instead of the officials referring to the rulebook (delay of game = 5 yards, holding = 10 yards, etc.) the coach simply imposes his own penalty and hopes the officials will accept it as "harsh enough." This would be a ridiculous way to run a football game. How hard would it be for the NCAA to create a mapping from violations to specific penalties? If you can find the exact rule that Mayo and Floyd violated, you should also find, on the same page of the NCAA rulebook, a specific description of the penalties that will be imposed on the coach, the school, and players who were involved. Maybe there's a reason the NCAA doesn't work like that. I would love for someone to tell me what that reason is.
But back to the sanctions themselves. My biggest complaint, really my only complaint, is the way the administration is taking our current team (none of whom were involved in the rules violations at all, and most of whom weren't even at USC at the time) out of all postseason play, including the annual Pac-10 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament (which I think we probably would have participated in for the fourth time in a row -- the first time that would have ever happened to USC).
This punishment has absolutely no effect on anyone who is actually responsible, and it keeps a great team, who so far as surpassed all expectations, from showing the country what they can do in "the big dance." So here's what I think we should do instead. Currently, during halftime of USC home games, there are a couple of little challenges, where students come down from the stands and try to make a shot or two in order to win money or plane tickets from Nike or American Airlines. Instead of that, I think we should have OJ Mayo and Tim Floyd come down and stand at midcourt. A student stands at either end of the court and fires a nerf gun at the NCAA rules violators. One student's nerf darts have cardinal paint, and the other's have gold paint, to make it easy to see which one got more hits. The winner receives a free Trojan Fever t-shirt. Mayo and Floyd do not. What do you think?