I believe you should never touch another man’s balls unless you’re fully prepared to deal with the consequences. What you do with your own, however, is between you and your god – unless of course you play college football.
Ball manipulation – specifically underinflating the pigskin to make it easier to grip, throw and catch – is frowned upon by the NCAA and the kind of thing that could give a program a bad reputation and a hefty fine.
That’s exactly what happened to the University of Southern California recently – well the fine part, the reputation has slipped for nearly a decade at this point thanks to multiple scandals, NCAA sanctions and, perhaps most damming, hiring a known rule breaker in Lane Kiffin to try to right the ship.
Wednesday night the program announced through a blog on its official site that a USC student manager was dismissed from all team duties for playing unauthorized games with the squad’s balls during the first half of the team’s loss to Oregon on Saturday, publishing a statement saying:
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.
The ploy seemed to have little if any effect on the Trojans’ performance in the game. Those watching the game probably would have though Oregon would be more likely to be accused of tampering with the ball for an advantage. The Ducks took advantage of USC’s hapless defense to cruise to a 62-51 win.
Whether or not the unnamed manager’s moved were sanctioned, or the program was unaware of them as the release stated, it is another black eye on a once storied football program that has struggled to stay relevant in the face of continued controversy –including a jersey swap by a backup quarterback to the sane number as the school’s punter a month prior. He was later used in a trick play during the schools win over Colorado.