Coach's Corner

The NCAA sanctions created a loss of scholarships, a lot of embarrassment, a few defections, and a bowl ban for USC. Regardless, as severe as the penalties were they will likely not be felt for years to come. The Trojans are still loaded, and without a doubt have more quality players than do the Huskies.

But that gap is narrowing, and if the Huskies continue to recruit like they have been the 30 missing scholarships will eventually level the playing field.

After watching them in person against WSU, as well as watching their games against Minnesota, Hawaii, and the Cougars on DVR, I really think they look better than they play.

Here's their negatives: They too have defensive linemen who can play a whole game and never make a tackle. They have a field goal kicker who misses way more than he makes. They have a quarterback (Matt Barkley) who has thrown two picks in each of his last two games, and opponents have dropped a number of others. He doesn't run a lot. Their TE, Rhett Ellison, replaces an NFL draft pick (Anthony McCoy) and is not near the threat. They lack depth in their offensive line and lost three starters from last year's team, leaving them with only 12 scholarship players. That's barely two-deep and leaves no scout team for practice.

They've given up more sacks than Washington has, had more fumbles and more interceptions. They are one of the worst in turnover margin, giving up four fumbles and four interceptions in four games.

Defensively, they have the worst pass defense in the conference and they are barely better than the Huskies in total defense. They are into big bellies on the defensive front and have only one scholarship senior on the back end of their defense. They start a true freshman on one corner and had to replace their entire secondary from 2009.

On top of all that, they are also the most penalized team in the league.

Hey, we have a shot. Granted, it may be a long one, but it's a shot.

The NCAA may have kicked them in the teeth, but it's still too early for any of the sanctions to impact this team. They are still very good.

I took this from the "Random Notes" column in their media release: "The USC football program is on probation until June 9, 2014 for NCAA violations involving agent and amateurism issues, lack of institutional control, impermissible inducements, extra benefits, exceeding coach staff limits and unethical conduct.

"The penalties include: public reprimand and censure; four years probation, post-season ban for the 2010 and 2011 seasons; one year show cause penalty for an assistant football coach; vacation of wins from December 2004 through the 2005 season; limit of 15 initial and 75 total scholarships for each 2011-12, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 years; $5,000 fine; disassociation with former football player (doesn't say who, but it's Reggie Bush); prohibit non-university personnel from traveling on team charters, attending practices and camps, and having access to sidelines and locker rooms. USC is appealing selected penalties."

There you have it - the official release by the school and from the personnel perspective the worst thing for them is that the Trojan football team will be reduced to 75 total scholarships and only 15 new ones each year for the next three years. That is the key difference in their penalty and ours from the squad development standpoint when we were sanctioned in 1993. We were only penalized for two years with the 15 limit but also gave up 10 official visitations. We had the same two-year bowl ban but always had controlled admittance to practices and travel. We disassociated with four alums but no players other than those who had turned on the program.

If USC has to give up wins for the 2005 season, does that mean Tyrone Willingham's team actually won the game despite the 51-24 score? And if so, I guess that also means the Huskies didn't lose seven years in a row to USC.

Here's the weird part in all that: A $5,000 fine? Are you kidding me? Make it $5 million and then you'll start getting their attention. The NCAA also needs to change the penalty philosophy of punishing the innocent players on current teams for violations committed before they even got to school, because that's never made sense. It's the same as putting someone in jail for a crime their brother committed because, after all, they are from the same family. What kind of justice is that?

This ends up being one of the things that motivates a team on probation and it can work to their advantage. We saw it in our kids when they came out of the tunnel against Bill Walsh and Stanford right after it happened to us. There was no way his genius was going to help him that day. We ran the ball 52 times for 315 yards. We used it the next year to ambush Miami and Ohio State and make the Whammy in Miami our own little bowl game.

Lane Kiffin is probably using the same "us against the world" mentality. Kiffin also inherited a cupboard not necessarily stocked to the gills, but talented nonetheless - something Steve Sarkisian didn't, and I believe Kiffin will probably have a winning team because of it.

After watching them play however, I can't believe USC will go undefeated in this conference. They will be playing at home after three of four on the road, so Washington will be in tough to beat them. It would still be a great upset, and that's why they play the game.

The Trojans do have some chinks in their armor, and Washington does have more playmakers then they've had in the past. It will take a great performance from Jake Locker, Jermaine Kearse and Chris Polk. Those three must play at the top of their games.

The Huskies will need to play mistake-free football and create at least three or four turnovers themselves. They can't get any kicks blocked or returned and they need to be solid in the kicking game. Look at what happened with the Seahawks. It's about time the Huskies blocked a kick or returned one for a touchdown: Maybe an interception return or fumble return for a touchdown would be in order.

They have to handle adversity when it happens and answer whenever USC does something good; counter-punch with the Trojans and be in the game at the end to give Jake Locker and Erik Folk a chance to win it.

Sound familiar? I'll take it. Top Stories