Don't forget true villain in USC mess: Reggie Bush

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While there’s still an appeals process to be played out, the storied USC football program was hit upside the head with a sledgehammer this afternoon by the NCAA.

Future bowl games, past wins and current scholarships were all ripped away from the Trojans due to “lack of institutional control” and “unscrupulous agents” and “failure to monitor” and various other phrases tossed out by the NCAA Thursday afternoon.

But there’s one person who is at the very root of this situation who has somehow, some way, found the means to skate relatively unscathed through all of the scorn being heaped on USC — one Reggie Bush.

There’s simply no way to tap-dance around this situation: this is all on you, Reggie.  

He’s the one that allowed his family to accept illegal benefits.  He’s the one who improperly received a vehicle, rent-free home, airline tickets, hotel rooms, cash, limousine service, furniture and appliances.  He’s the one who placed the program in jeopardy of receiving the very sanctions that were slapped today on an institution he supposedly holds dear.

Certainly those who turned a blind eye are culpable and bear a percentage of the blame and deserve lambasting; however, the man that should shoulder the vast majority of the responsibility for this utter and complete mess is Reggie Bush.

He did it.  Not his coaches or his football administration or the athletic department or even the “unscrupulous agents”.  He alone accepted what was being placed in front of him, and it matters not whether he’s the first, last or any number of players in between who have received illegal benefits based on their athletic prowess.  He did it.  And got caught.  And his university is paying dearly while he lives off the fat of the NFL land.

He should be held up to scorn and ridicule and public browbeating for what his actions did to his university.  Will he take responsibility for what he did, for the mountain of evidence the NCAA had against him?  Of course not.

Just a week after distancing himself from the football program with his “whatever happens, happens” blast — which came four months after spewing a sanctimonious “I will defend ‘SC until the day I die” — Bush was back to lovin’ himself some ‘SC as he issued a self-serving statement ahead of the sanctions being announced this afternoon.

“I have a great love for the University of Southern California and I very much regret the turn that this matter has taken, not only for USC, but for the fans and players. I am disappointed by today’s decision and disagree with the NCAA’s findings. If the University decides to appeal, I will continue to cooperate with the NCAA and USC, as I did during the investigation. In the meantime, I will continue to focus on making a positive impact for the University and for the community where I live.”

Yeah, Reggie, try selling that “regret” to the people most affected by your greed and I’m-above-the-rules attitude — the players currently wearing the same colors that you claim to represent and will “to the day I die.”

Shame on you, Reggie Bush.  And shame on anyone else that doesn’t at least heap a healthy handful of scorn upon Bush as they’re picking apart the carcass of the USC football program.

Love quiet as Stanford leads Cal at the half

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Stanford is halfway to keeping its namesake Axe. The Cardinal leads Cal 10-6 at the break in Palo Alto.

Stanford broke a 3-3 tie by moving 70 yards in 10 plays, the last 17 on a K.J. Costello pass to Kaden Smith. Costello hit 11-of-20 passes for 131 yards with a touchdown and an interception on the final play of the half.

Cal moved inside the Stanford red zone with a chance to tie, but the drive stalled at the 9-yard line and Matt Anderson booted a 26-yard field goal to pull the Bears within 10-6 with 2:43 left in the half.

On a night when he could win some points back in the Heisman race, Bryce Love has carried just six times for 17 yards.

Cal will receive to open the second half.

Report: Virginia’s Bronco Mendenhall a person of interest in Oregon State coach search

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This is an intriguing potential development.

With Gary Andersen abruptly and unexpectedly stepping down earlier this season, Oregon State finds itself on the hunt for a new head football coach.  On the same day the Beavers fell to 1-10 on the lost season, a new name surfaced as a reported possibility: Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

At least, according to John Canzano of The Oregonian, who lists Mendenhall as a person of interest in the search.  Canzano writes that Mendenhall “interviewed for the job in 2014 and was the runner-up when Andersen was hired,” then goes on to put him on OSU’s short list, along with Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin.

Mendenhall, should he decide to jump ship, certainly has ties to that area of the country — and to the university.

Born in Utah, Mendenhall began his collegiate playing career at an in-state junior college before transferring to, you guessed it, OSU for his last two years of eligibility.  He then began his coaching career with the Beavers as a graduate assistant and defensive line coach in 1989-90.  He then returned to his alma mater in 1995 as line coach, spending the following season as defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach.  Nearly a decade later, he became the head coach at BYU, spending 11 seasons with that program before abruptly leaving for the Virginia job after the 2015 season.

After going 99-43 with the Cougars, and after a 2-10 first season in Charlottesville, Mendenhall has the Cavaliers bowl-eligible for the first time since 2011.

Tennessee fumbles its way to a halftime deficit vs. LSU

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If only Marquez Callaway could catch a punt. Callaway’s two fumbled punts handed LSU 10 of its 17 points as Tennessee trails 17-10 at the half at a windy, rainy Neyland Stadium.

Callaway’s first fumble came at his own 15 yard line, which LSU’s Russell Gage hopped on. The Tigers gained only two yards on the ensuing possession, but it was enough to allow Connor Culp to knock through a 30-yard field goal.

Tennessee answered with a 14-play, 53-yard drive that killed over half a quarter. The 7-minute, 39-second march ended at the LSU 27-yard line, allowing Aaron Medley to tie the game with a 45-yard boot with 13:59 left in the second quarter.

LSU’s offense went three-and-out again, but Callaway again fumbled the ensuing punt, which Michael Divinity, Jr. grabbed at the Tennessee 19. LSU’s offense capitalized this time, as Darrel Williams rushed in from 10 yards out to put the Tigers up 10-3 with 11:31 left in the frame. 

Tennessee strung together another double-digit play drive that ended at nearly the exact same spot as the previous one — this one was the 28 — but swirling winds pushed Medley’s 46-yard field goal (far, far) wide left.

But as the weather picked up, both offenses came alive.

LSU closed the half by putting up its first self-made points of the night. The Tigers needed only 28 seconds to move 61 yards as Danny Etling hit Derrick Dillon for a 12-yard completion, Williams rushed for 36 yards and Etling carried for a 13-yard touchdown with 2:08 left in the first half. Etling conected on 8-of-12 passes for 50 yards, and Williams led all rushers with 50 yards on three carries. Derrius Guice mustered only four carries for 10 yards.

The Vols struck back after LSU’s score, moving 75 yards in four plays and 45 seconds. Jarrett Guarantano hit Callaway for consecutive long passes, one for 26 yards and another for 46, which Callaway caught through pass interference and turned into a touchdown with 1:23 left in the first half.

hit 10-of-12 passes for 144 yards, and John Kelly led the Vols with 17 carries for 29 yards.

A 53-yard Culp field goal clanged off the right upright as time expired.

Tennessee will receive to open the second half.

Baker Mayfield ‘truly apologizes,’ calls crotch grab ‘unacceptable’

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You could see, smell and hear this coming from hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away.

Inexplicably, Kansas decided to take the low road when, during the pregame meeting of captains at midfield, one of them refused to shake the hand of Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield.  Then, one decided to go facemask-to-facemask as the midfield meet-and-greet was breaking up.  Add to all of the pregame stuff some questionable in-game shots Mayfield took, and the Heisman Trophy frontrunner was agitated.

So agitated, in fact, that he went lowbrow in lobbing a televised crotch grab at the Jayhawks bench after one of his three touchdowns on the day.  Predictably, and just as he did after the infamous attempt at a midfield flag-planting after beating Ohio State in Columbus — and after his offseason arrest —  Mayfield offered up a mea culpa.

So, there you have it.  As I intimated earlier, it’s going to be very interesting to see how this situation plays out in the minds of Heisman voters.  Then again, Johnny Manziel and Jameis Winston won Heismans in recent years without stellar off-field pedigrees, so there’s that as well.

UPDATED 8:31 p.m. ET: In addition to the apology in his postgame press conference, Mayfield also tweeted a mea culpa.