The end is in sight for the USC football program. Effective Tuesday, June 10, USC will officially be taken off probation.
The probation was put in place following a lengthy 2006 NCAA investigation looking into alleged extra benefits being received by former USC running back Reggie Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo. As a result, in June 2010, the Trojans were slapped with the “lack of institutional control” label, stripped of a BCS national championship and Bush’s Heisman Trophy was vacated. The football program was handed a two-year postseason ban and forced to lose 30 scholarships over a three-year period.
The Trojans are still rebuilding from the impact of the loss of scholarships, and as the Los Angeles Times profiles, it will take some time before the program is back to full working order with a full scholarship limit. The Class of 2015 will be the first full recruiting class USC will be able to put together for the first time in four years. In that time the Trojans have been passed by programs like Oregon and Stanford for Pac-12 bragging rights and UCLA has come on strong under the new leadership of head coach Jim Mora. The Bruins look like a playoff contender in 2014 with a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Brett Hundley and one of the top defensive household names in Myles Jack.
Meanwhile, the Trojans will be opening the new season with its third head coach since the NCAA investigation got underway. Pete Carroll returned to the NFL to lead the Seattle Seahawks to a Super Bowl championship and Lane Kiffin was left at the airport after a bad loss against Arizona State last season. Now the task for new head coach Steve Sarkisian will be to restore the pride in the once might USC program.
The good news is, the job should start to get a little easier now.