Recovery from stiff NCAA sanctions won't be easy for USC
Now that the NCAA has ruled against Southern California's appeal, the football program has to deal with the ramifications of their major sanctions.
The Trojans already served the first of their two-year bowl ban last season and will be ineligible for the postseason and the Pac-12 championship this fall.
The bigger blow is the loss of 30 scholarships during the next three seasons. USC had sought to reduce that penalty in half, but now will only be able to offer 75 scholarships the next three years and cannot sign more than 15 in any class.
That is a devastating blow to a team hoping to compete for a national championship as the Trojans expect to do each year. Even under the best of circumstances, USC will likely be below 75 scholarships after 2012 because they cannot fully replace any class that has more than 15 players using up their eligibility. That doesn't include the possibility of attrition by injury, transfer, suspension, dismissal and players leaving early for the NFL.
In the past 20 years, history has shown programs like Oklahoma, Alabama and Auburn have taken several years to regain their status among the elite programs after major scholarship hits. But it eventually did happen. It takes time, however.
To deal with the expected penalties, Lane Kiffin signed a full class last February to bring its numbers up to 82 scholarship players. Thirteen of those will be playing in their final year of eligibility, reducing the total to 69 and limiting the team to just six new scholarship players in 2012 unless more players leave.
USC already has eight commitments for the 2012 class.
One of those eight is Arik Armstead, a 6-8, 280-pound offensive tackle from Pleasant Grove High in Elk Grove, Calif., who is considered the Trojans' top 2012 recruit.
Armstead said last June that he plans to sign with Southern Cal to play football and basketball and Thursday's news didn't change his mind. His older brother, Armond, will be a senior defensive end next fall with the Trojans.
"I'm sticking with USC," Armstead said. "Having only 15 scholarships the next three years doesn't mean that much to me - having just three fewer scholarships a year isn't that big a difference. Southern Cal normally gets the top recruits anyway."