For Pete’s sake, more on his side of the USC-NCAA sanctions with HBO

“We made mistakes along the way. But we didn’t make mistakes that would take a program down with the facts that they hold — I would be ashamed for the NCAA.”

== Pete Carroll, to HBO’s Andrea Kremer

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The Associated Press
Pete Carroll, as he appeared Monday night in an interview with The Associated Press during a book signing.

Because of the ongoing appeal process with the NCAA, USC officials — particularly athletic director Mike Garrett – have not talked much at all about the sanctions levied on the football program last month. Garrett’s only comments recorded in the media seem to be at the booster club meeting in San Francisco that night, when he claimed that the NCAA had “nothing but a lot of envy” about the program.

Pete Carroll, the former head coach heading into his first season with the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, seems to be one of the few who can talk about it — even if he doesn’t necessarly want to. His legacy is most at stake here, aside from Garrett’s, so this interview he has done with HBO for Wednesday’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” is another opportunity for him to shed some light on what happened, what he did or didn’t know, and how this will all wash out.

It also allows him to promote his new book.

From a released rough-cut preview of the interview that reporter Andrea Kremer did, Carroll shows a range of emotions — apologetic, remorseful, but also aggitated, exasperated with raised eye brows. His body language seems to say he knows something wrong happened, but he didn’t know about it — especially as much as the NCAA says the school is at fault, Carroll is hardly marked.

Leading into this interview Kremer did with Carroll is a revisit to a piece Bernard Goldberg did with Lloyd Lake, the San Diego-based aspiring agent who worked with Bush’s step-dad, Lamar Griffin, to essentially give Bush money for his new car (which he posed with on a magazine cover), his parent’s home, trips — everything that the NCAA says you can’t do. The piece originally aired in 2008, and Goldberg says “if Lake had stayed silent, USC wouldn’t be in the mess it is in today.” Lake was only coming public, he said, because Bush owed him thousands of dollars, which could have been paid back with Bush’s new New Orleans Saints contract.

With that context for the viewer all laid out, Kremer has two sit-down interviews with Carroll, both in Seattle. One focuses more on his USC past, the other on his Seattle future.

She asks:

== What did Carroll think the first time he saw Reggie Bush driving a new car on campus:

Kremer: “Reggie drives a pickup truck. Now, all of a sudden, in his sophomore year, he’s driving this supped-up, bigger time …”
Carroll: “Have you ever seen the car?”
Kremer: “Yeah. So, you saw … him in the car…”
Carroll: “It was a Chevy (he says defiantly).”
Kremer: “Did you ever ask him about it, though? Did you ever ask him where he got the money for it?”
Carroll: “I think I could recall kidding him about the kind of car he … he chose to buy, at the time. ‘Cause it was kind of an old-fashioned nice looking car.”
Kremer: “But the bottom line is still, how did he get it?”
Carroll: “That was all worked out. They took care of that. There’s a process that the school has to go through to meet compliance standards. And they did that. They did it.”

“They” meaning the USC internal investigators. Kremer reports that according to the NCAA, “they” did nothing. No investigation. No paperwork filed for months. Bush left blank the key question — where the car was purchased — and no one followed up.

Carroll: “At that time, there might have been one person running the compliance office. I think there’s seven now.”

== Carroll gets aggitated again when asked if he knew of Bush’s family’s new, improved living conditions:

“Of course not. When you are growing up, Andrea, did you have any idea of your parents’ mortgage situation? Think about it. None of us knew. We don’t know. I couldn’t tell you now how my mom and dad paid for their house.”
Kremer: “But this is your best player with the most to lose.”
Carroll: “It’s easy for you to ask these questions in this manner right now. Matt Leinart was our best player. He was the Heisman Trophy winner. This was Reggie just emerging. He started for the first time regularly his junior year. He was sharing time. He was another one of the guys.”

Kremer points out that even as a sophomore, when the NCAA says he started receiving gifts from sports agents, USC’s own media guide called him “college football’s most exciting player.”

Kremer also says in the voiceover: “Bush’s success should’ve led USC to heighten its compliance efforts, and as far as the NCAA was concerned, that never happened.”

Kremer: “Did you wanna know? Did you think you turned a blind eye to anything?”
Carroll: “No, you have to want to know because that’s what the world is all about. Compliance runs your life in college sports. you screw it up, you lose it. ”

== The reaction to Carroll during recent visits to L.A. since the sanctiohs have been mostly cordial — but he has two book signings coming up Friday in Orange County and Monday in the South Bay:

“People are pretty kind in general. There’s guys … yahoos … who get out there and yell. I wish I would’ve been able to prevent all of the ill feelings that came out of this thing. I apologize for not knowing that it was going to be this bad, ’cause I was hoping it was going to be much different. So, it’s just too bad.”

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  • JAG

    I haven’t seen the entire interview, but It seems like some of Andrea’s “hardball” questions miss relevency.

    First, the NCAA did not determine that Carroll personally had any knowledge of violations involving the Reggie’s ’96 Impala or the Bush family rental arrangements. Carroll himself wasn’t aqccused of any wrong-doing by the NCAA, so it’s cute that she asked, but so what?

    Second, USC has admitted that violations occurred and that Reggie played while ineligible during the entire 2005 season. So again, it’s nice fo Carroll to defend the USC compliance department, but USC administration has already accepted full responsibility for all violations that occurred on their watch.

    The primary points of contention between the NCAA and USC revolve around whether USC coaches (i.e. Todd McNair, not Carrroll) knew about Reggie’s situation, and even if he did, whether the penalties fit the crime. Hopefully, some of her questions will address these issues. Because, even when a school is guilty of some violations, they are still entitled to due process, a rigorous and impartial evalution of the evidence against them, and a fair and apropriate assignment of penalties.

  • Trojan Conquest

    Jag…..well said. “high profile players require high profile enforcement”. Seriously, his parents lived in a modest, tract home 200 miles away.

  • sureshot

    What kind racist crap would it be for the head coach to ask one of his players where he got a 1995 Chevy? Did he ask all his players where they got the cars they were driving? Why wouldn’t Reggie Bush be able to purchase a 1995 Chevy on his own? His family was a middle income family. I’m sure if I was a star football player sure to make millions in the NFL, my mom would have been glad to take out a second on her house (or borrow from the dealership) to buy me a car. Is it because Reggie is black that Pete should question the origin of his car? Did Pete track down the DMV records on Matt Leinart? Matt Kalil? How about Matt Grootegood? Give me a frickin break. The bulk of the money spent by the Bush/Griffin family was spent two hours away on unpaid rent on an overpriced house. There’s no way USC should have/could have/would have known about Reggie’s benefits.

    And the NCAA wants to make open practices a scapegoat? Lloyd Lake knew Lamar Griffin from high school. How the eff can you prevent that relationship from forming? Paul Dee should be taken out back and have a “talking to” that hypocritical phat azz.

  • Sy

    Let’s get real here. A Chevy Impala in ’05 was a little more than 20K new. 1995 Impala in ’05 was one month’s salary if you worked at McDonalds. This really is a farce. What poor family couldn’t afford this car? THERE WERE NO RED FLAGS and the NCAA new it! The members that were on the infractions committee had their agenda and they twisted and downright changed the facts (dates mostly) to see their agenda fulfilled!

  • pr

    There were no red flags? Really :) Keep drinking the cool aid the Cheaty Petey is feeding you. Cheat On and Cheat Forever!

    “September 2005: Lake and Michaels visit Bush in the USC locker room following a game. It is the first of at least two locker room visits by the New Era representatives.”

    http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/news?slug=ys-bush_timeline

  • TruthBeTold

    2 points:

    1) The house – as already mentioned: modest and overpriced – yes. However, if anyone knows the SD area – you also know that this house is in Spring Valley – only about 2 miles from where the family was living – STILL in Spring Valley. Same zip code. It’s not like they went from SV to La Jolla …
    And, the way the pictures present it – in the best light – take a picture of the neighborhood – 300 yards down the street!!!! So, no flag there. Seriously. The family moves about 2 miles down the street – in a OLD, run-down neighborhood, and that’s supposed to be questioned?!?!?

    2) Lake and Michaels in the USC locker room … SO!?!? … Friends/family in the locker room (WAS) commonplace … and these 2 shouldn’t have ‘stood out’ in any capacity … it’s not like they were Anyone of significance.

    People need to get real!!!

    As everyone knows – if Bush squares w/ Lake and Michaels – this never becomes a known issue; thus, how is it tied to ‘SC.

    The fact is: 2005 was w/ an ineligible player.
    Bush should forfeit the Heisman, ’05 be vacated, … and that’s it … move on … 1 player and his family shouldn’t be able to erode an entire program.

    Until the NCAA/Congress/whoever is able to criminally charge agents/runners/wannabes – nothing will change; and Universities and current/future players without a direct link (alums/boosters) shouldn’t be penalized as such.

  • bazinga

    “September 2005: Lake and Michaels visit Bush in the USC locker room following a game. It is the first of at least two locker room visits by the New Era representatives.”

    Another way to phrase this would be “Reggie Bush is greeted in the locker room by his stepfather’s high school buddy and one of his buddies. It is one of two such visits during Bush’s three years at USC.”

  • Gnossos

    So, Andrea (I’ve never been wrong before in trying to scoop everyone) Kremer has bought in to the Paul (I ran a clean program at Thug U when I was AD) Dees philosophy of monitoring a “high profile athlete.”