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Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon
Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon cover the Pac-12 for The Salt Lake Tribune.

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Thursday Pac-12 links: USC simply can't stay out of trouble

Thanks to some gumshoe reporting by the Los Angeles Times, news broke over the weekend that USC had further issues with players accepting gifts from boosters. In the latest discovery, it was former Trojans running back Joe McKnight (who played at the school from 2007 to 2009) and former basketball player Davon Jefferson.

McKnight supposedly accepted a plane ticket and a car from some dude named Scott Schenter, who is embroiled in an ongoing scandal with the LA County Assessor's Office. And all of this should sound pretty familiar if you remember the Reggie Bush scandal that led to USC being placed on a two-year postseason ban, losing 10 scholarships for three seasons (this is the first year, not third as I previously wrote) and being stripped of wins and national titles.

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So the NCAA is back to investigating USC, and the question now is whether there wil be further sanctions, or if, because the latest alleged improprieties occurred during the time before USC's probation, it will result in a mere slap on the wrist. Another train of thought is that because USC has gone out of its way to be be models in compliance since Pat Haden assumed the position of athletic director, the Trojans will be in the clear.

The Times' Chris Dufresne makes a compelling case that USC should simply be allowed to move on from the latest charges, because the harsh sanctions from the previous missteps basically punished the culture that led to McKnight and Jefferson's (alleged) indiscretions.

Read on:

USC, in the sanctions context of our times, does not deserve more than an additional wrist tap. The McKnight-Jefferson case only affirms the NCAA's original contention that "high-profile athletes demand high-profile compliance."

USC Nation - and some of us in the media - might owe the NCAA an apology for saying/suggesting/screaming that the original penalties were excessive.

This latest chapter might raise the sanctions to their proper level of appropriateness. McKnight-Jefferson appears, with less talented players, to be an appendage to Bush-Mayo.

The key question for the NCAA infractions committee is to ascertain whether it would have handed out different penalties had it known about the latest allegations.

The good news for USC is that the NCAA shot so high the first time, it might keep its gun in the holster. Or the NCAA could feel the reflexive need to restrict phone calls or visiting hours and/or take a couple of more scholarships away.

USC slipped to No. 2 in the AP Top 25 this week, and moved up to No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll. The Trojans play Syracuse at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on Saturday. And, look, it's not all bad for USC right now. Matt Barkley is still the early (and we mean early) favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. But USC has seven of those things (correction: six — which brings us back to Reggie Bush). The much more fun candidate to watch this season will be De'Anthony Thomas, the former USC commit now a highlight machine up at Oregon.

Thomas, who played in high school at Los Angeles Crenshaw, scored three touchdowns on just eight touches Saturday against Arkansas State, and is getting some mention as a Heisman candidate because 1) he's fast, 2) he's good, 3) Chip Kelly's offense will almost always produce a Heisman candidate.

As Oregon State fans like to point out, the Ducks have never had a Heisman Trophy winner. (The Beavers had Terry Baker in 1962.)

Over at the ESPN Pac-12 blog, the guys made their picks for this week and there are no surprises. We'll reveal our weekly picks around these parts tomorrow.

— Bill Oram

PAC-12 Links
Links from around the Pac-12
Arizona (Tucson Citizen)
» Future Cat Roth sets HS steeplechase record
» UA football: Camp schedule includes shorter Fort Huachuca stay
» Video collection: UA hoops incoming freshmen highlights
» Wildcats: Pac-12 Media Days, Day 2

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» ASU receiver Strong back stronger
» Graham's coaching jobs have shaped him
» ASU All Access: Who stood out at workouts
» De'Marieya Nelson to get a look at Devil-backer

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Former Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour hired as Penn State AD
» Local digest: Atletico Madrid not at full strength against San Jose Earthquakes
» Coach Sonny Dykes promises Cal Bears will be competitive
» Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott disputes remarks by Big 12's Bob Bowlsby

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Pac-12 media days: Colorado eager to turn things around
» Colorado's MacIntyre at Pac-12 media days: "We will be improved"
» Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott: league "well positioned" for playoffs
» CU Buffs picked 6th in Pac-12 football media poll; Oregon the favorite

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Vin Lananna keeps pushing the envelope, and that is a good thing; Oregon track & field rundown
» Late hits on Ducks' Marcus Mariota; what Oregon Ducks can expect against Michigan State: The Oregonian sports top 5
» Team USA's sprinters dominate Friday at the IAAF World Junior Track & Field Championships
» Leaders after Round of 64 in Oregon's Greatest Athlete Bracket Challenge

Oregon State (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
» Oregon State hires longtime trainer hired Fred Tedeschi
» Beavers hire Mark Massari as deputy athletics director
» Oregon State hands out Bennys to top athletes, coaches and teams
» OSU fishing: MacDonald, Martinez win conference tournament

Stanford (San Jose Mercury-News)
» Local digest: Atletico Madrid not at full strength against San Jose Earthquakes
» Stanford's Evan Crower emerges as Kevin Hogan's backup
» Stanford's David Shaw open to San Jose State game at Levi's Stadium
» Pac 12 football: Stanford reacts to being picked second

UCLA (Los Angeles Daily News)
» UCLA Football Notebook: Running back Malcolm Jones loses appeal for extra season
» College Football: Position coach Adrian Klemm says UCLA offensive line a work in progress
» COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Improving UCLA has questions to answer during preseason football camp
» COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UCLA's prized recruit Eddie Vanderdoes cleared to play by NCAA after leaving Notre Dame

USC (Los Angeles Daily News)
» USC Football Notebook: Marqise Lee's injury not too serious
» USC Football Notebook: QBs Max Wittek, Cody Kessler present dilemma for Trojans coach Lane Kiffin
» USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel thinks Trojans might not miss QB Matt Barkley
» USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Dion Bailey says it's 'now or never'

Washington (Seattle Times)
» Chris Petersen eager to bring some trick-playin', Goliath-slayin' fun to the Huskies
» Former Lincoln High star Alex Montgomery helps New York win
» Morning links: Chris Petersen 'nailed it' in move to Washington
» Huskies QB Cyler Miles suspended for Hawaii opener

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Shock close regular season at Portland
» Where will Lynch's holdout lead the Hawks?
» WSU gets a kicker, announces fall practice dates
» Flashback: Stanford



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