- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Go ahead and mount that dartboard with Lane Kiffin's (usually) smug mug on it.
Place it next to the one of NCAA president Mark Emmert or any others considered villains in the fallout from the severe sanctions placed on Penn State's football program. Ask how and why the NCAA cleared the way for a star player to transfer from one program on probation to another.
But don't blame Silas Redd. He's no Benedict Arnold or Brutus. He's an extremely talented football player who had to make the best decision for his future.
As expected, Redd confirmed Tuesday that he's transferring from Penn State to USC. The second-team All-Big Ten running back in 2011, who ran for 1,241 yards and seven touchdowns, will be eligible to play immediately for the Trojans, who, like Penn State, have quite a tradition at running back. While Penn State is just beginning its penalty phase, which includes no postseason play for the next four years, USC is emerging from some of its own sanctions and will be eligible to compete for a national title for the first time since 2009.
The NCAA made it as easy as possible for Penn State players to transfer without penalty. Kiffin came calling, and Redd, after visiting USC's campus during the weekend, accepted the invitation.
Redd ultimately had two good options.
1. Stay at Penn State, play in an NFL-style offense under new head coach Bill O'Brien, be the clear-cut featured back and have an excellent chance to turn pro after the season.
2. Go to USC, compete for the starting job, play behind the nation's top quarterback in Matt Barkley and compete for a Pac-12 title and quite possibly a national championship.
You can't fault a guy for wanting to play for a championship. Redd has that opportunity at USC, which likely will be the preseason No. 1 team in the polls.
This isn't a case of a cocky kid looking for the next best thing. Any Penn State fan who knows Redd or has read about him knows he's humble, hardworking and extremely classy. He comes from a terrific family and has earned everything that has come his way. His decision was extremely difficult, and he's leaving behind many close friends in State College.
Here's the full statement Redd issued about his decision, and here's an excerpt:
"Playing football at Penn State has been a dream of mine since I was seven years old, and I will be forever grateful that this dream became a reality," Redd's statement reads. "This is the reason that the decision I have made is so difficult for me: I will transfer to USC to complete my education and my college football career, beginning in the 2012-2013 year. Penn State gave me a phenomenal opportunity to become part of a legendary football program. My teammates, my coaches -- past and present -- and the staff have provided me with a tremendous amount of guidance and support since I arrived on campus, and I can't thank them enough for their time, their advice, and their friendship. They have given me such a strong foundation from which I can continue to grow."
Sure, he could have echoed the pledge made by several of Penn State's older players last week. He could have stuck it out in State College. But the NCAA sanctions changed things at Penn State, and the liberal transfer policies opened doors everywhere, even to other programs on probation, like USC. Is that debatable? Highly.
"I think it is important to say that this situation is not something that I wished for myself, but it has happened, nonetheless," Redd's statement reads.
Redd also finds himself in a different situation from most Lions players. He has two years of eligibility left, and likely will face an NFL decision after the season. He also plays a position where a transition to a new team, even just a month before the opener, shouldn't be overly dramatic.
His departure certainly stings. If Redd isn't Penn State's best player, he's a close second behind first-team All-Big Ten linebacker Gerald Hodges.
Who takes over at running back for the Lions? Bill Belton will be a key player to watch in preseason camp. He ran the "Wild Lion" offense at times last season and possesses good speed. Curtis Dukes, a big back who missed spring ball because of academics, is weighing whether or not to stay in State College. Redd's decision could impact that of incoming running back recruit Akeel Lynch, who is considering Iowa as a possible transfer destination.
Running back suddenly has become a compelling position battle for Penn State, which kicks off fall practice Monday.
It'll be interesting to see the reaction to Redd's transfer. His exit is another setback for a program and a fan base dealing with plenty of them. More departures likely will come, including the possibility of linebacker Khairi Fortt heading to Cal.
But if you're looking for someone to blame, Redd isn't the answer.
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