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Joe Bo’s College Exam: Carroll out, Kiffin In at USC, Leaving Trail of Enraged Student Bodies

January 13, 2010

By Joe Bodolai © 2010 All rights reserved

Just two days before he was to arrive for class at USC, top recruit Kyle Prater announced that he no longer would be enrolling, left confused by the whirlwind of Pete Carroll’s sudden departure. He is just one of many young high school stars left dangling in the whirlwind as the coach they signed up to play for suddenly disappeared without a “wham bam thank you man”.

High school players make their decision often based more on the coach than on the school. In Ohio, where Jim Tressel’s integrity and demeanor impresses not only the players, but often more importantly their mothers, the Buckeyes manage to get every top player in the state, and, as we have seen recently, from Pennsylvania and Michigan as well. The chain of trust is also evidenced locally by the relationship between the Buckeyes and Glenville’s Ted Ginn, Sr. who can confidently ensure his players they are in good hands in Columbus. The power of a single high school coach being able to look a player’s mother in the eye and say “I sent my son there“ is enormous.

Are these coaches leaving simply because of more lucrative job offers, such as the one Nick Saban got to leave LSU for rival Alabama? Not so fast my friend.

Recruits and players at the University of Tennessee were also left dumbfounded and abandoned by the stunning announcement that first-year head coach was leaving the Vols’ program – by going back to USC! This announcement literally enraged the Volunteer Nation and their venom can be found all across YouTube in passionate yet hilarious videos.

Both Carroll and Kiffin were leaving behind much dirty laundry for the NCAA to pick through. Carroll is faced with the serious Reggie Bush situation about to ooze from the can of worms that has lingered for four years. Kiffin leaves behind a brief though pungent legacy that includes pointless smack talk with rival SEC coaches, being banned from recruiting by a high school in Georgia, and perhaps the biggest of all, hiring ”hostesses“ to attend potential recruits’ high school games, holding up signs and bringing unspecified other favors.

When the fan-hitting starts in earnest, and oh, it will, the blinders will come off. Trouble is, these kids have only until National Signing Day (now why isn’t that a holiday?) which is February 3rd to make perhaps one of the most important decisions of their lives. Likewise, players and recruits of Brian Kelly at Cincinnati, Charlie Weis at Notre Dame (in fairness, Weis was fired and Kelly got his dream job) are pondering their futures.

If the NCAA sanctions are as strong as many suspect they will be (loss of scholarships, perhaps even victories) this will hurt USC and Tennessee hard in the short term. The long term can only be cured by stability. And whomever said that ”integrity doesn’t help you win“ seems to be off by a mile right now. ”Fight On!“ and ”Rocky Top“ may sound like dirges.

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