Need a quarterback? Call the Trojans

June, 11, 2010
6/11/10
5:10
PM ET
The NCAA slapped USC with a whole mess of sanctions earlier this week, including a two-year ban from the postseason. Past providing some good, old-fashioned schadenfreude, Big 12 fans probably don't care all that much about the penalty.

This might change that:
Juniors and seniors to-be on the USC Trojans' football team, hit with a two-year postseason ban among other punishments, will be allowed to transfer to other FBS programs without having to sit out a season, the NCAA clarified to ESPN on Friday.

"The second school would have to submit a waiver asking to waive the year in residence, but NCAA rules allow for this waiver to be granted if a student-athlete's first school has a postseason ban in their sport," NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said in an e-mail to ESPN's Joe Schad.

The rule does not apply to freshman who have signed national letters of intent, however. But schools with an interest in a USC junior or senior are allowed to initiate contact with the player, Osburn said.

Starting sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley obviously doesn't qualify, and has said all of the right things moving forward with the sanctions, but another quarterback does.

Backup Mitch Mustain. Take it away, colleague Ted Miller:
Mustain is probably the nation's best known backup quarterback. He went 61-2 at Springdale (Ark.) High School and was named the 2005 Gatorade, USA Today and Parade Magazine National Player of the Year before becoming the biggest recruit in Arkansas history. He went 8-0 as a true freshman starter, yet things turned sour between Mustain and Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt -- let's just say it was complicated -- and Mustain opted to transfer to USC.

Full disclosure: I attended the same high school at the same time as Mustain, but I wouldn't even call us acquaintances. We're not even Facebook friends. Point is, I've watched him play for a long time. His biggest strike as a player is he got beat out for a starting gig by a guy who just led the New York Jets to the AFC Championship Game as a rookie. The 8-0 record at Arkansas as a freshman is misleading (Darren McFadden and Felix Jones had a lot more to do with it), but the guy can play.

Pete Carroll had only good things to say about him while he ruled Troy, and he's got the pedigree. He's not better than Barkley or Mark Sanchez, but there aren't a ton of quarterbacks who are.

He'll be a senior with big-game experience who spent three years at USC improving his game. Before that, he spent his high school career and first year of college under the tutelage of Gus Malzahn -- now a hot-commodity offensive coordinator at Auburn on the fast track to a head coaching gig. He's 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. He's extremely accurate, has a strong arm, is deceptively fast and his deep ball is one of the prettiest you'll see in college football. And he's still got the chops, even if Barkley's are choppier.

With Barkley sidelined during the spring game, Mustain stepped in and completed 19 of 29 passes for 299 yards and five scores. Who knows if he'll leave after already doing it once at Arkansas?

But Big 12 coaches, if you need a quarterback and you're not at least calling to gauge his interest, you're making a mistake.

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