Prized USC freshman Dillon Baxter broke off a copious amount of YouTube-worthy highlights during spring practice, enough so that it prompted head coach Lane Kiffin to compare the running back to Reggie Bush. On multiple occasions.
As it turns out, Trojan Nation will have to wait an additional week to see those Bush-like qualities from Baxter.
Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times reports this evening that Baxter has been suspended for the season opener against Hawaii for violating unspecified team rules.
“This is a very, very severe punishment, but it was imperative to make a strong message, especially to our first group of freshmen our first year here, and potentially the most talented player on the team, that we have high standards for our players on and off the field,” Kiffin said.
Baxter was held out of a pair of practices Tuesday and forced to go through what the Times described as a series of punitive conditioning drills. Kiffin said Baxter was being punished for being “late for something.”
The Times, though, has unearthed another potential reason behind the suspension.
Late Tuesday night, The Times asked Kiffin if Baxter’s punishment was related to a USC Department of Public Safety incident report filed at 2:47 a.m. Tuesday. It indicates that officers were at Fluor Tower, where USC players are housed for the first few weeks of training camp, when an incident occurred.
“A student was cited to Judicial Affairs for violating a team curfew and being under the influence of a controlled substance,” the report said. Neither Baxter nor any other player is named in the report.
While Kiffin and other school officials declined to comment on the record regarding the incident, a source with knowledge of the situation told the Times that Baxter was the individual in question and the substance was marijuana.
And, somewhere, new athletic director Pat Haden‘s head is about to explode — if it hasn’t already — as yet another incident/controversy has hit the USC football program. There’s little doubt, though, that these next four months on the football field field — and anything that happens off it — are going to be very, very interesting and intriguing as it relates to the length of tenure Kiffin may or may not enjoy at his “dream job”.
And just how much patience Haden really has for constant PR hits.