- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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Breathe, USC fans, breathe.
In fact, I'd suggest you ignore what happened Tuesday with Ohio State and its slap on the wrist from the NCAA for a massive systemic breakdown and a coverup by head coach, Jim Tressel.
Yes, when you hold up the Ohio State case and the USC case, it's impossible not to conclude the Ohio State case was far more severe. It was, of course, without question. No informed, objective person believes differently.
But here's the thing: Being outraged will accomplish nothing. You will be unhappy and your team will still be docked 30 scholarships over the next three years for what one player secretly did while Ohio State will be down just nine scholarships over the same time period for the rule-breaking of five with full knowledge of their head coach. And your unhappiness will provide great joy to folks who don't like your team.
Adopting a placid pose — at least as best as you can — will be good practice for handling potentially more infuriation ahead. The NCAA also likely will give even worst upcoming cases — North Carolina and the University of Miami at Paul Dee — less severe penalties than it gave USC.
Why? Because the NCAA treated USC unfairly — everybody in college sports knows this — and it likely won't revisit such irrational harshness. In the end, the justification for such severe penalties, meted out in contrast to past precedent, was little more than "just because."
But the NCAA, an organization not endowed with a sense of self-awareness, failed to foresee when it curb-stomped USC that among the lawbreakers in college football, the Trojans were jaywalkers amid a mob of bank robbers. Ohio State's sanctions, in fact, represent a return to NCAA normalcy: Mostly toothless penalties that will have little effect on the program's prospects, other than a single-season bowl ban.
There we go again: Fretting the particulars and the injustice of it all.
The point is USC fans have been quite reasonably been shaking their fists at the heavens or, more accurately, the NCAA home office in Indianapolis for two years. That anger has accomplished nothing, other than emboldening taunts from opposing fans.
You know: Fans whose teams didn't finish 10-2 and ranked No. 5 in the nation.
And therein lies the ultimate revenge: Winning.
It's hard to imagine the next five years won't see a USC downturn. Losing 30 scholarships is a tough burden. Things could be particularly difficult in 2014 and 2015, when the true cumulative impact arrives. And it could be even more galling if Ohio State is back in the national title hunt those years. Maybe playing Miami in a Fiesta Bowl rematch!
But if the Trojans can somehow remain in the picture, perhaps playing in a Rose Bowl -- or two -- along the way that would be a heck of a panacea, wouldn't it?
It's a longshot, sure. But other than that, we've got nothing for you USC. Sorry.
Easy, now. Breathe, breathe. Happy place. Happy place.