Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled USC Fires Student Manager Who Supposedly Tampered With Game Balls

This was the entirety of the statement the school issued last night:

A USC football student manager has been relieved of all duties with the Trojan football team for intentionally deflating, below NCAA-regulated levels, some game footballs used by USC's team during the first half in last Saturday's game against Oregon.

Game officials discovered and re-inflated three of the balls before the game and two others at halftime. All balls were regulation in the second half.

When informed of this allegation by the Pac-12, USC investigated it immediately. The student manager confirmed that he had, without the knowledge of, or instruction from, any USC student-athlete, coach, staff member or administrator, deflated those game balls after they had been tested and approved by officials prior to the game.

As a result, the Pac-12 reprimanded USC and imposed a fine.

So what was this? Was the student manager really engaging in subterfuge by acting on his own? Was it just a prank? Is the kid just taking the fall for Lane Kiffin because he happened to get caught? Both teams supply their own game balls to use when they're on offense, and to ensure uniformity, the NCAA does have a rule regulating the approximate amount of air the ball ought to hold. Besides, it's not clear what advantage there is to using a slightly deflated football—are they really easier to grip, throw, catch, and kick?


I guess it doesn't really matter, since USC lost and Oregon coach Chip Kelly doesn't give two shits about it. Kiffin told reporters after practice he wouldn't have been brazen enough to instruct the manager to tamper with the balls right there on the Oregon sideline, and that he's not sure what advantage there would be to using two different game balls. And if there's one thing we know about Lane Kiffin, it's his reputation for honesty.


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